Can child care benefit your children?

When you’ve been at home with your children for some time, the idea of leaving them with someone else can feel terrifying. You want to be a good parent but you are worried they might miss you, they might cry and they might not like the food at child care.

But child care can benefit your children and your family. Nearly half of all Australian children aged 0-12 years attend child care. Long day care is the most popular form of care for children aged 0-6.

How child care benefits children

Many parents find their children benefit from child care because they have access to:

  • a greater variety of educational toys, books and play equipment than at home
  • the ability to play and interact with other children
  • learning to share toys and their ideas
  • music, singing, art and craft, and other activities
  • staff trained to bring out the best in children
  • excursions to expose children to new places and learning experiences
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Studies have also found longer-term benefits from attending quality child care. Children are more likely to:

What types of child care are available?

Options in your area may include:

  • long daycare
  • family daycare
  • nannies and au pairs
  • asking a relative or friend to look after your children
  • occasional care

The best option for you depends on your budget, working hours, and the number and type of services in your area. ParentsNext can help you access child care subsidies and find suitable day care when you need it.

What to look for when choosing child care

Children benefit most from quality child care. Many Australian child care providers are regularly assessed and you can check the ratings at mychild.gov.au.

What else should you look for?

  • child to carer ratio: For babies under two, this should be one adult to four children. Ratios for other ages vary from state to state
  • carers who are qualified, experienced and share your views on child care. Staff turnover should be low
  • there are activities, books and toys to suit your child’s age
  • the facilities are clean with separate toilets and baby change areas
  • there are play areas indoors and outdoors that are supervised
  • meals are nutritious and culturally suitable

Tips to make the transition easier

Finally, some of the following tips may help you and your child transition to child care more easily:

  • Visit the centre or child care location ahead of your start date. Spend time there with your child and meet the staff.
  • Talk to the centre about your child’s likes and dislikes and routines or needs.
  • If you can, start your child before you have to go back to work or study, building up the number of hours your child is in care.

  Images: iStock