Child care options guide

How do you find quality child care that matches your requirements?
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  • Updated:1 Sep 2009

01.Child care issues

Child and teacher

Most parents use some form of child care for their children, most commonly while they are at work - but how do you find quality child care that matches your requirements?

In brief

  • Long waiting lists and lack of choice over which days, the number of days and the type of child care available are the major problems when looking for child care.
  • High costs and staffing issues (high staff turnover, too many children looked after at once) are problems many parents have to deal with once their children get into care.

Community or private child care?

Community-based centres or family day care schemes can be run by local councils, parent collectives, churches or charities. They’re non-profit, and rely on government grants and fund-raising to cover operating expenses, including wages, that aren’t covered by fees. Employers can also sponsor a centre or scheme on a not-for-profit basis.

Other centres are run by private individuals or companies on a for-profit basis. Private centres can still receive government funding if they comply with certain regulations and guidelines. The owner of the centre pays for the building, equipment and wages.

ABC Learning: The collapse of Australia's largest child care provider, ABC Learning Centres, in November 2008 left hundreds of centres in the hands of receivers and created a unique and challenging situation for parents, communities and the child care sector. Of the more than 1000 centres over 650 continued to trade as normal, of the rest the overwhelming majority of centres continued with new operators, most of them private companies.

Waiting lists

Depending on the availability of child care in your area you may need to put your child’s name down at one or more centres as early as possible — before they’re born — and from then on regularly check with the centres to see if a vacancy has come up.

Your local council should be able to supply information about the types of service available. Your baby health care clinic or state department of health or community services may also be able to advise you.

To find child care services in your local area:

  • Use the search facility on the website of the National Child care Accreditation Council (NCAC
  • Call the Child Care Access Hotline on 1800 670 305 for a complete listing of all Child Care Benefit approved services in your area. The Child Care Access Hotline also provides information on vacancy details. Vacant Child care places will also be added to


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