Grown ups

Child care checklist: centre-based day care and family day care

Child care checklist: centre-based day care and family day care

Finding centre-based child care and family day care services

If you've decided on family day care or centre-based child care like long day care, the next step is to find available services.

To find available child care places in your area:

  • phone the Child Care Access Hotline on 1800 670 305 (freecall)
  • visit the Australian Government's Child Care Finder
  • search child care places on Starting Blocks.

You could also look into services that are near your workplace.

To find out what the available child care services are like, you could:

  • visit services
  • check services' quality ratings on Starting Blocks.

If you're interested in having your child cared for in your own home, you might want to look into nannies and babysitters.

Comparing centre-based and family day care services: checklist

When you're looking at centre-based and family day care services, the checklist below can help you compare how different services will educate and care for your child. This will give you a good basis for deciding on the right service for your family.

Fees and payment requirements

  • What are the service fees?
  • Do you have to pay for days you don't attend? For example, do you still pay when you go on holidays or on public holidays?
  • Can you get government assistance for child care? If you can, you'll pay less than the quoted price.

Play and learning

  • What does the service do to help your child learn and develop? Is there a plan on display that explains the service's learning and development program?
  • Will staff report back on your child's day?
  • Is there easy-to-access information about the service's policies, level of staff training, hygiene and discipline procedures?

Facilities and setting

  • Is the environment stimulating and safe?
  • Does the centre or home have a relaxed and happy atmosphere?
  • Does the centre or home seem interesting, with plenty of light and lots of toys and activities?
  • Is there plenty of room and outdoor equipment for your child to enjoy?

Daily routines

  • Is there a chance for quiet time or rest during the day?
  • Are there plenty of opportunities for your child to engage with nature?
  • Will your child have the chance to explore and create?
  • Do toileting, nappy changing and rest times meet individual needs?

Carers and their relationships with children

  • How many carers are there? Is there at least one carer for every four babies?
  • How often do you see staff engaging with children?
  • Do staff encourage, respect and care for children?
  • How do staff guide children's behaviour?
  • Is every child treated like an individual?

Relationships with parents

  • Do you feel welcome to discuss issues with staff?
  • Can you and your child do an orientation program?
  • Can you drop in at any time to visit and observe your child in the environment?
  • Are family members encouraged to get involved in activities?

Meals and snacks

  • Does the service supply meals and snacks, or do you need to send food with your child?

If the service provides meals and snacks:

  • Does the service offer a healthy selection of snacks and drinks?
  • Do snacks and meal arrangements meet children's individual needs?
  • Does the service follow Australian dietary guidelines for children? Can the service show you its menu and nutrition policy?

General information

  • What is the service's policy on enrolling children who aren't up to date with immunisations?
  • What happens if your child is sick?
  • What happens if you're late for a pick-up?
  • Who else can pick up your child?
  • What should you pack for your child?
  • How can you help your child adjust to child care?

Many child care services have waiting lists, particularly for babies and toddlers. So even if you're only thinking about a return to work or other change, it's a good idea to register for child care or put your child on a waiting list as soon as you can. It's OK to put your child on more than one waiting list.