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Child care centres vs Family Daycare?

Whether you are an alien from outer space, recently emigrated from overseas, or a first time mum. Unless you have friends who have ‘been there, done that’, deciding on day care for your child can be scary, complicated and stressful.

A big tip would be to think about the care of your child early. It sounds awful but you need to start planning for the kind of care you want for your child in your early pregnancy. That can be a really strange feeling! Consider a plan a, b and c.  Take some time to go over your finances and reflect on your career to find out what works for you in terms of keeping up with your professional development and how you will manage your money on maternity leave and beyond. You need think laterally. If you are employed, become familiar with your HR policies. Quite often, parents feel because of their finances or their type of career they have child care options taken away from them. But if you are prepared to do your research, think about your options and be creative you can access the care that will make you and your child happy!

I can confidently speak from experience on the topic of Family Daycare (FDC) and Long Daycare (LDC) as my son has attended a long day care centre and is now at a community kindy and my daughter currently goes to family day care.

Remember there are other types of care out there; stay at home parents, family, nannies and au pairs and less frequently occasional care but the two most popular are FDC and LDC (which is the same as child care centres).

The main difference between FDC and LDC is centre and children. Family daycare is in someone’s home and long daycare is in a centre with multiple rooms for each age group so the size of the group is different. LDC’s are registered for a certain number of children per age group and have staff/child ratios but at lunch time different age groups can play together. FDC have a maximum of 4 children but this doesn’t include school age children in the ratio so consider the school holidays and having potentially 4 daycare kids plus 4 school age children.  Licensed childcare services are required to meet minimum quality standards under The Queensland Government Office for Early Childhood Education such as; the ratio of adults to children, staff qualifications, programs, buildings and facilities, health, hygiene and safety standards. In a licensed set up, an umbrella organisation such as Wesley Mission takes responsibility for vetting the carers and their qualifications, checking the safety of the premises, providing insurance and ensuring that all other obligations are met under the scheme. It also means they are registered for the family tax benefit, so you can receive the payments.  

A kindy program may be delivered by a suitably qualified family day carer. You would just need to ask the umbrella organisation. It is probably more likely you will need to look for a LDC providing a kindy program or a stand-alone kindy such as C & K, Lady Gowrie or your local community kindy as most family daycarers have as a minimum a certificate 3 in childcare. To deliver a kindy program you need to have a Bachelor of Early Childhood or equivalent.

Some people say FDC is cheaper but I know of a local service, which is $120 per day with morning tea and nappies provided so you need to look around. Also FDC, unlike LDC, can have holidays over and above the public holidays. Your daycarer will hopefully give you plenty of notice for this is one of the questions you need to ask to fit it in with you or your partners annual leave. The great thing about FDC is often they can assist you with after hours care, weekend or flexible care which is can be claimable on your rebate.

With FDC I find it a little more intimate than LDC, if you have conflict you can resolve it through a manager but most times its face to face. Some parents don’t enjoy FDC where their children are involved in daily tasks like shopping etc whereas I don’t mind. My little girl goes with the big kids to school assembly and she loves and it and I think she learns a lot through this interaction.

My husband thought a child care centre was a better option when we had our first child as there were more staff so he thought it was ‘safer’ than a Family Daycare who report to their registering organisation and have monthly home visits. But my son was really sensitive to noise and found it hard to settle in in the mornings, which made him upset and in turn, us upset. I briefly considered family daycare with my first child and was put off by a friend who visited a few places but didn’t like them. I looked around at a few and some I didn’t click with the mum and some I didn’t like the look of the place. With our second we looked more at family daycare for something a little closer to home and we found an amazing mum with 2 school age kids who is a short bike ride from home. So I ride my daughter to FDC, my husband rides my son to kindy and then go on to work. It works for us!

Basically I think you find a childcare right for you at the intersection of research, luck, location and personal connection. You need to feel confident in your childcare choice whatever it may be as those feelings come out in your relationships with your partner, other children or at work and that’s not pretty. Go with the gut when you have explored all logical options. You will have a feeling on whether it’s right or not, and the important thing is that if it’s not right, do something about it or change the situation.

We are currently working on a service, which will assist parents in choosing childcare and a provide support for parents using childcare. We can keep you updated if you ‘like’ us on Facebook or visit us for more information about other childcare options on our fact sheet http://daycaredecisions.com.au/daycaredefined/

About Rebecca

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Hi I'm Bec and this is my my blog Daycare Decisions. I am a mum of 2, passionate about early education, nature play and a parents' transition back to the workforce after having a baby.

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