Childcare survey reveals inequities

Available, affordable, high-quality care is still out of reach for many families.
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08.What to look for + Contacts

Childcare checklist

Use our checklist to help find the best childcare option for your children.

  • Visit prospective childcare 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?
  • 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, what the child-to-staff ratio is for your child’s age group, and how many children are in each room or group. Ask about age and qualifications in each room. 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.
  • Both long-day care centres and family daycarers are assessed by the National Childcare Accreditation Council. You can find out how a centre or carer went in their assessment by asking the centre (or the coordination unit, if you’re using family daycare) to show you their Quality Profile Certificate. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about their results.
  • Our survey respondents recommended putting your child’s name down at a centre as early as possible — before they’re born — and regularly checking with the centre to see if a vacancy has come up.
  • Get the National Childcare Accreditation Council's brochure called "Choosing quality childcare" (contact details listed below).

Useful contacts

  • Childcare Access Hotline:
    For information on childcare vacancies, childcare services in your area, quality issues, types of childcare and government assistance with childcare cost.
    Phone: Freecall 1800 670 305 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 9pm EST)
  • National Childcare Accreditation Council (NCAC):
    Phone 1300 136 554 (local call cost) Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm EST)
  • Family Day Care Australia:
    Phone: Freecall 1800 621 218
  • National Association of Community Based Children’s Services (NACBCS):
    Phone: (03) 9486 3455.
  • Childcare Associations Australia:
    ; see the website for various telephone contacts in each state.
  • State/territory government contacts:
    If you think a childcare centre is in breach of regulatory requirements (for example, it’s short-staffed, or the building is unsafe), you can complain to the state or territory body that licenses the centre.
    Website: For a list of contacts for state and territory licensing authorities, go to

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