Early Years Learning & Care

0 to 5 Years – Early learning steps…Preschool plan…Care for your Child

If you are searching for care to suit your child, there are a number of options available for this early age group. Options will vary by location and local community needs. Every family’s situation and needs are different, so have a look around your local area and see what suits your family. Over time, your needs may change as well, especially if you have more than one child, you might find yourself juggling children at different learning and care centres with different start and finish times. Your child might also attend more than one centre each week. Some facilities provide a single service while others offer more than one service and this can be confusing! Some providers may have waiting lists for their services. Regardless of which form of care you choose, your child is likely to share the bugs going around. So it’s good to have some options to call upon to help care for your child when they can’t attend care.

Long Day Care Centres
Most commonly known as Child Care Centres, these centres offer care for children aged 6 weeks to 6 years (until the child starts school). Children are usually grouped into rooms depending on age. Centres are usually open from 7.30am to 6pm, which provides you with flexibility in terms of drop off and pick up. If you are working, you might find it more convenient to find a child care centre closer to your work rather than home, so you don’t need to factor in peak hour traffic. Some offer morning or afternoon options so you don’t need to pay for a full day if you don’t need it.  Most centres will include an early education component in their program and some may include a Government funded Department for Education and Child Development (DECD) preschool component during school terms. Waiting lists can be long in some locations, especially for the baby rooms, where the child- staff ratio is smallest. It is often advised as soon as you know you are pregnant, to start looking around at options, ask about current waiting list times and put your name on the waiting lists. In some centres, the demand for places can vary on different days, so if your employer is flexible, you might find it easier to get care on some days rather than others.

Family Day Care
Sometimes called home-based care, family day care is where a professional carer looks after your child in the carer’s home. Carers mainly work with children aged 0 to 6 who are not yet at school, but can also provide care for older school-aged children. The hours of care are flexible and can include whole day, part day or irregular or casual care. Some carers may offer care overnight or on weekends, which is handy if you work shifts or are ‘on-call’.

Occasional Care
Occasional care offers professional care for children on a casual basis. So if you don’t need regular care, but need help for when you have a medical or other appointment for example, consider occasional care.

Preschool, Kindergarten, ELCs, EDC, CPC, CDC, IHC, Rural Care, RIS … and more.

We agree it is confusing. And even more confusing when some centres have ‘Kindergarten’ on the sign at the front gate, but ‘Preschool’ on their website, letterhead and newsletters! Let’s end the confusion now. Preschool and Kindergarten are just different names for the same thing – the (most commonly) year of curriculum based learning through play before starting school. The DECD provide preschool education programs in a range of government funded centres including kindergartens, school based preschools and integrated centres such as Child Parent Centres. Integrated centres provide a range of child and family services in a single location. See page 42 for more information on starting dates for DECD preschool and school. Some non-government schools may offer different starting options. Early Learning Centre (ELC) is  a commonly used term for non-government facilities covering childcare or preschool or a mix of both.  In summary, there are a lot more options out there and the options are continually evolving to better meet community needs.

More Information
It’s important to note that we have only summarised the most common forms of early learning and care. There are many more options available. Explore the websites below as a starting point for more options and information:

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