There are many reasons why you may decide to look for childcare. Parents returning to work is the most common reason, but there are many others including the child being ready for social interaction and the main caregiver needing a break or having another baby. There are many options for childcare and because it is an emotional decision it can be overwhelming and confusing for parents to know where to start.
Finding the right child care to suit your needs depends on your individual circumstances and factors to consider include your child’s age, your financial circumstances, times that the care is needed (e.g. full time/ part time), distance and location and the needs of the rest of the family.
The main options considered by most families include:
• Private Nanny/ AU pair in your home
• Home based childcare
• Private Day Care
• Public kindergartens/crèche
There are pros and cons to each option and we have put together a few comparisons to help make the decision a little easier.
• You can choose the hours – flexibility
• Care is in your own home
• May do housework as well
• Can care for more than one child if needed (e.g. older siblings at school)
• Your child has one on one care and attention
• They come to you – no drop off/picks ups
• Most expensive option
• If Nanny gets sick or is unable to work you need to find make alternative arrangements at late notice
• Can be trial and error to find the right person
• Less social interaction with other children
• Qualified caregivers with knowledge of child development, first aid etc
• Always open (e.g. no sick days for a carer)
• Food often provided– many have in-house cooks providing nutritious, well-balanced meals. many cater for allergies and food intolerances also.
• Lots of social interaction
• Lots of educational toys and preschool learning provided.
• Many offer 20 ECE hours for children over 3 year’s old
• Not open public holidays.
• More bugs and viruses can be caught especially in first few months.
• Need to find a centre that suits location and hours.
• Less one on one care and attention than a nanny/ in home care
• Higher cost then public kindergartens/ crèches.
• Your child must stay away if unwell at all.
Public Kindergartens /child care
• Free 20 hours ECE once they are 3 years old.
• Cheaper than private child care facilities
• Socialising with lots of children
• Community feel
• Lower teacher to child ratio then private childcare facilities
• Not full time care- less days and shorter hours than private day cares
• Children must be 3 years old to start public kindergarten.
Home Based Child care
• A home like environment
• Some socialising with other children
• Smaller child/carer ratio (usually up to 4 children maximum)
• Cheaper than private Day cares and Nannies
• You may need to find replacement/ stay home if the carer is sick
• May be harder to find one with suitable hours/location in your area
• Can be less structured than centres
• Other children may not be the same age.
When it comes down to it is always best to trust your instincts. Research and talk to other parents in your area about their choices and experiences. Visit plenty of centres, interview lots of Nannies and don’t feel pressured or rushed into making a decision or commitment.
All children are different, some children are confident and social and flourish in a larger kindergarten-based care situation, while a shyer, more nervous child may fare better in a smaller home-based care situation. If it is not working at one center or style of care keep trying until you find the right fit for you and your child.