Child care options guide

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

03.Child care checklist

Visit prospective child care services more than once, and spend time observing how the staff interact with the children and how the centre (or home if it’s family daycare) is run.

  • Do the children seem happy and engaged in activities, or do they look bored?
  • Does the centre or home look like a happy place to be?
  • Are you and your child welcome?
  • Are staff engaged with the children or sitting around chatting to each other?
  • Do they appear to know the children well?
  • Are there any quiet, private areas where children can look at books or play by themselves if they want to?
  • Has each child a cot or bed and/or a place such as a locker where personal belongings can be kept during the day?
  • Is children’s own work displayed around the walls at their eye level?
  • It’s critical to ensure that children have enough indoor and outdoor space because overcrowding and confined spaces can damage a child’s development.

Ask questions about how your child will be taken care of and how their needs will be met. You should be welcome to drop in and see your child any time. Experts recommend you visit unannounced from time to time.

Ask about staff turnover and qualifications, what the child-to-staff ratio is for your child’s age group, and how many children are in each room or group. Are any of the staff’s qualifications related to early childhood?

If the centre provides food, ask to see the menu.

  • How often is it changed?
  • Can it cater for special dietary requests?
  • Are quantities adequate, and are enough fresh fruit and vegetables served?
  • Are meal and snack times enjoyable?

Check that the equipment and play spaces are safe.

  • Are measures in place to keep children away from stairs, fireplaces or heaters?
  • Is the yard well fenced so children can’t find their way out?
  • Is the carer able to see the children at all times?

Licensing, National Standards and Quality Assurance

The National Child care Accreditation Council (NCAC) administers Child Care Quality Assurance (CCQA) systems for family day care schemes, long day care centres and outside school hours care services across Australia. NCAC sets quality standards and accredits services that meet the standards. You can find out whether the service is accredited by asking the services to show you their Quality Profile Certificate. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about their results.

Child care services are licensed by state/territory regulations. These regulations specify operational hours, staff qualifications, group size, staff-to-child ratios and other requirements. Licensing regulations vary from state to state. Contact details for licensing authorities are available on the NCAC website.

Long day care centres, family day care schemes and outside school hours care services also have National Standards. For information check the relevant National Standards document on available the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations website.


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