As a friend said, “my advice would be, if you want you children to get a place in the city childcare centres, put their name down at as many as you can before they are conceived and cross your fingers until they are 2”. I have never heard of any childcare centres in a capital city that do not have waiting lists. Actually if it was a city centre childcare centre I would be wondering what was ‘wrong’ with them if they didn’t have a waiting list. ‘Long Day Care’ or ‘Childcare’ are terms used interchangeably to describe care in a childcare centre, which can cater for children 0 – 5 years of age, some even offer out of school hours care up to the age of 12 but thats generally in the suburbs. These centres can have long hours from 6:00am – 6:00pm and are a mix of private and community-based organisations. Your first visit to a Childcare Centre can be a bit confronting; security access, crying children, dribbling neon noses are a bit of a sight. Try visiting a few and you will get to know what you like.
Things to consider –
Distance – Think of the distance to your work. Some people prefer a location closer to home if they are off sick you don’t have to travel 30mins to drop off the wee ones. Others even prefer to go to work rather than stay home with a cold + a hyperactive toddler.
Hours – Hours can vary, but can be as long as 6am until 6pm. If you or your partner seems to constantly getting home late, be aware most childcare centres have substantial penalty rates if you arrive to pick up your child after their official closing time. The real penalty is feeding a over-tired feral child.
Fees – Be prepared they may come in the form of admin, enrolment, weekly fees. Don’t forget to factor in other fees for entertainment above your daily rate e.g. dance programs, sport programs, cultural activities etc. Daily rates can begin at $60 and go up to $160/day. You will generally find the closer you are to the CBD the more likely it is you will be spending $100+/day on childcare.
Food and Nappies – These may be included in your daily fee or not provided at all. Each centre is different even within childcare groups like GoodStart.
Age catered for – Some families like to consider the consistency of keeping their child in the same centre when the wee ones transition into kindy (if the centre has an approved kindy program). There is also the option to transfer to a Kindergarten program.
Child Care Benefits – The percentage subsidy you will receive under the Childcare Benefit differs from family to family and depends on your gross family income and the number of dependents in your family. You will need to lodge a form with the Family Assistance Office at Medicare or Centrelink so you can work out your subsidy and when you want to receive it; fortnightly, quarterly, half yearly or annually. Once approved you only need to pay the difference between full fees and the subsidy (payed by the government). The paperwork has to be sorted out before you start, or else you will pay full fees, which will be credited back.
Kindy – Approved kindergarten program providers charge parents fees, and often fundraise to complement the funding they receive from the Queensland Government. Your eligibility for the Australian Government s Child Care Benefit or Child Care Rebate will not be affected by your child’s participation in a kindergarten program delivered in a long day care service.
Philosophy – Each centre, depending on their ownership, management and Director create their own educational philosophies in line with the National Quality Framework (National Standards for Office for Early Childhood Education and Care).
– It will kill you but you will need to pay for your child attending holidays even though the centre will close. When you have holidays you often get 2 weeks per year where you only need to pay half fees but it is extremely unlikely that they will hold your place if you are going to go away for any longer so you either pay up or head off. You need to provide notice and talk to your centre in advance as everyone is different.
– If your child is absent due to sickness the government will pay up to 30 absence, after that you will be charged full fee. However, if you get a medical certificate it will not be included in your allowable “30 days”.
– Long daycare will always have a sick day covered thanks to a wide range of educators.
Take a look at our other articles on care types in Australia: