Childcare services in Australia are at capacity and with Australia’s growing population the childcare places just haven’t been able to keep up with demand. The Federal Government Minister Education and Childcare, says, “The number of children accessing childcare has now hit one million for the first time. This means that the number of children in childcare across Australia has increased by nearly 38,000 in just one year – a growth of 4 per cent.”
The upshot is childcare places for the foreseeable future are tight. So do you ‘donate’ a much-needed fridge to your child care, or become the squeaky wheel, calling every second day? Well, every Child Care Benefit approved childcare service has to abide by the Priority of Access guidelines and tell you about them when you enroll your child into care. The priorities are based around the child being at risk of abuse or neglect, single mum or parents that satisfy the work/training/study test. See (http://deewr.gov.au/priority-allocating-places). For those that don’t fit these categories you are left in the queue, so here are our top 10 tips to give yourself the best chance of getting your child into the childcare service you want!
1. Put your name down early. The sooner that you’re on the list, the higher the chance of getting an offer when you need it. It is definitely not unusual for parents to put their bumps name down in the first trimester.
2. Go in and say hello. Make yourself memorable; bring flowers and chocolates – no just kidding. Rather than being just another application form, go in and introduce yourself. If they like you, you might get an offer sooner? Also it can be the right place at the right time with the right availability.
3. Put your name down at more than one place. To give yourself a better chance of getting an offer, put your name down with at least half a dozen services. It’s also a good idea to accept your first offer; you can always change your mind later!
4. Look at areas a little further from home. If you have a wider selection of services, you have a higher chance of getting an offer somewhere. So think outside the box and look for childcare services on the way to work, near the grandparents and near home.
5. Keep contacting your chosen childcare service. Make sure that they don’t forget you! Go in and show them photos when you baby is born.
6. Keep your contact details up to date. Make sure that they have your current phone number and address so that they can call you and don’t cross you off their waiting list.
7. It’s not what you know; it’s who you know! Mention if you have friends that have children attending the centre, a personal reference can go a long way. Although the “don’t you know who I am” statement can work against you.
8. Be flexible. Be willing to accept an offer even if it’s not for the exact days that you wanted. Once you’re in, you may be able to swap around your days?
9. It’s all about timing. Openings generally become available in January. So even if you don’t go back to work until April, consider putting your child into childcare for one day a week, so that you’re in the system. This can actually be quite a shock as you have your return date in your head. Try to think about how baby will feed in relation to when you are due to return to make the transition a little less stressful for mums and bubs.
10. Don’t give up! It may seem like there are hundreds of people in front of you on the waiting lists but have patience. Even if it takes a little longer than you had planned.
Tell us your waiting list story?