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Childcare Options

1. Long day care. Centre based, private or government run, long hours (usually 8am-6pm).

Open in school holidays.

Children from 6–8 weeks to school age.

2. Family day care. A carer looks after 4–5 children in her own home. Co-ordinated by the local council. Must be licensed.

3. Home based day care. Like family day care, but run privately, so costs are higher. Must be licensed by the Department of Community Services.

4. Nannies. Whether via an agency or a private advertisement, you will need to check their references and insurance. It’s also good to spend some time observing the nanny with your child before leaving your child with them.

5. Work based. Some large companies provide childcare services for employees. Check qualifications of staff and if they are licensed to operate as a child care centre.

Take your child for a few short visits before they start, to get them used to the environment.

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Childcare centre checklist

  • Is the centre accredited?
  • Are the staff properly qualified?
  • Is the staff/child ratio at least 1:4 in under-2 year olds?
  • Are the children supervised safely?
  • Are the children happy and busy?
  • Are the staff relaxed and managing effectively?
  • Are the meals and snacks nutritious?
  • Do staff wash their hands after nappy changing and before they feed children?
  • Are children well cared for e.g. sunscreen/hats, runny noses?
  • Is there a daily activities plan?
  • Do staff answer your questions?
  • Are the other parents happy?
  • Are sleeping arrangements adequate? e.g. not noisy or crowded.
  • Are the gates and fences childsafe?
  • Does the centre have a security access system in place to ensure no stranger can wander in off the street?
  • Is there a system in place to ensure that only authorised people can pick up your child?

Childcare tips

  • Childcare centres usually have long waiting lists. Book at least 6–12 months ahead.
  • Visit the centre several times, making use of the checklist, before you decide to enrol your child.
  • Take your child for a few short visits before they start, to get them used to the environment.
  • Start daycare a few weeks before you go back to work, for just a few days a week. This also allows you and your baby time to get used to the new routine.
  • Arrange with your partner who is going to drop off and pick up.
  • Check you can ring the centre at any time and put their number in your phone.
  • Make sure they have an emergency phone contact for you and your partner.
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  • Pack your child’s bag and prepare their clothes the night before.
  • Label all your child’s clothing, shoes and bags.
  • As close contact with other children leads to frequent colds and infections, plan who will look after your child when they’re sick, as they won’t be allowed to attend the centre with an infection, fever, vomiting or diarrhoea.
  • Prepare a snack for your child to eat on the way home from childcare.
  • If they have a good, nutritious lunch at daycare, they may be satisfied with a light meal at night when it‘s late and they’re tired.
  • Cook on the weekend and freeze meals for your baby and family to eat during the week when you get home in the evening.

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