Baby Hints & Tips

All You Need to Know About Choosing The Right Child Care Centre For Your Family

Depending on your individual family circumstance, when you return to work after maternity leave, you may be looking at enrolling your child into a Child Care Centre. Some families have grandparents or relatives to care for their children, some opt for Family Day Care, or some stay at home with their children and extend their parenting leave. If you fall into the category of needing to access Child Care for your child, it’s really important to inform yourself as much as possible well ahead of time. Many Child Care centres are highly sought after and have lengthy waiting lists. You may even need to put your child’s name down shortly after birth! In short, it’s never too early.

Your first step, which is a very important one in the process, is choosing the right Child Care setting that will best suit your family and cater for your needs.

child care

What to look for when choosing a child care centre

It’s a really good idea to begin looking at what child care centres are in your local area, check out their websites and make an appointment to meet with the Director and book a tour. This will give you a lot of information to consider.


I have experienced both a Child Care centre close to my work (half an hour drive from home), which suited really well for my first child while I was still working. But when I had my second child, I decided to keep my eldest going to care two days a week (read my reasons at the end of the article, so we moved her to a centre closer to home and this turned out to be a really good decision, even though I was apprehensive about how she’d adjust to a new centre.

Consider who’s going to do the drop off and pick up and factor this into the locations you are considering too. If you are thinking long term, your child may remain at that centre until they start school, which again is likely to be in the same area, so if they’ve made some friends at Child Care and/or kindy who are attending the same school, this makes their transition a little bit easier.

The My Child website is a good place to start. Simply enter your postcode and the child care centres in your area will come up.

What to look for on a child care centre tour

As soon as you walk into a centre and are greeted by a staff member, you’ll get a feel for the overall “vibe”. Does it feel welcoming? Is it homely? Is it calm? Do the children seem happy? Busily playing? Interacting positively with each other? How do the staff interact with the children? What kind of activities and learning experiences are set up? Is there evidence of art work and photographs on the walls? What is the outdoor area like? All of these factors contribute to a high quality child care centre.

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What questions to ask on a tour of a child care centre

Don’t be afraid to ask questions as you take the tour. I’m sure that the director will cover many of these, but it’s worth keeping them in mind if they don’t come up. Lots of this information might also be in the parent handbook, which most centres will provide.

  • What is the staff to child ratio in each room?
  • Do the children have a primary caregiver?
  • Is there a high staff turnover? (Eg ask the Director how long they’ve been there for)
  • Are nappies and food provided?
  • What are the sleeping arrangements and routines?
  • Does the centre have a particular educational philosophy that they follow? Eg Reggio Emilia? Montessori? Play based learning? Nature Education? Do they teach another language? Do they offer a kindergarten program (see below for more info)
  • What is their policy on swapping days? Raincheck days etc?
  • Do they offer half days?
  • What is their transition policy?
  • Does the centre close over the Christmas/New Year period?

If you’re visiting several centres, take a few notes otherwise when you’re comparing, you’ll be struggling to recall which centre had which policy – as they can be quite different.


The type of staff at a child care centre certainly makes a huge difference. The right people are going to make your life so much easier and give you peace of mind that your child is happy, settled and well cared for. Something to consider is that if there is a high staff turnover (meaning your child may get attached to one educator and then one month later they leave). Staff who have been at the centre for a long time are clearly happy in their jobs and enjoy working at that particular centre. My child’s attachment to her carers/educators was so important to me. It’s also worth asking if the centre uses a method of assigning “primary carers” to each child. Basically this means that your child will form a closer bond with one particular carer.

child care centre

Child Care Centre Ratings

Every Child Care Centre in Australia is assessed and rated by the Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) based on these seven criteria;

  • Education Program & Practice
  • Children’s Health & Safety
  • Physical Environment
  • Staffing Arrangements
  • Relationships with Children
  • Partnerships with Families & Communities
  • Leadership & Service Management

There are five ratings which a centre will be awarded once their assessment is complete. Most centres receive number 2, 3 or 4.

  1. Significant improvement required
  2. Working towards national quality standard
  3. Meeting national quality standard
  4. Exceeding national quality standard
  5. Excellent

The centres you visit may even have their rating proudly on display somewhere.
Click here to see a list of the centres awarded the highest rating of Excellent.

Some centres operate independently, or some are part of a larger chain such as GoodStart or Stepping Stones. My children have attended both types and from my personal experience I haven’t noticed a great deal of difference between the two.

Cost of Child Care

Most child care centres are between $90 – $100 per day, but keep in mind that you are likely to receive a Child Care Benefit and/or Child Care Rebate depending on your total family income. Food/nappies also come into this cost (eg it might be a lower fee if you supply your own).

This Centrelink Estimator is a great place to start to give you an idea of what Child Care is going to cost for your family – it takes about 5 minutes to complete (and please note; it’s only an estimate, not the official forms you need to fill in to receive the benefit).

What is the EYLF

It may surprise you to know, that Child Care Centres are actually required to follow a curriculum. This is what the EYLF (Early Years Learning Framework) is for, and it’s Australia wide to ensure consistency across centres and prepares children to enter school where they all learn under the Australian Curriculum.

Belonging, Being and Becoming are the three key principals of the framework. At this early stage in life children are developing their sense of identity and where they fit in the world. It’s essential that they feel they belong somewhere, that they are valued, that they are safe and cared for. The framework encourages young children to become their own individual person and recognises children’s individual talents and interests.

child care centre

Sessional Kindergarten vs Kindergarten Program in a Child Care Centre

This is a really big question that many parents struggle with (I know we did). All children in Australia are entitled to one year of formal kindergarten in the year before they start school which is usually made up of 2.5 days a week in a traditional (session) kindergarten setting with hours between 9am – 3pm (roughly). Some kindergartens structure their days with 2 days one week and 3 days the next, but it all works out the same at the end of the year. There is minimal cost to families, and qualified teachers and staff operate under the Early Years Framework (as does a Child Care Centre). They have group time, play time, inside time, outdoor time, eating time, stories and songs as well as a myriad of rich educational experiences.

Many Child Care Centres run their own Kindergarten program, taught by a qualified teacher. This is important to note, this teacher has the same qualifications that a Kindergarten teacher would have. This gave me reassurance that my child would receive a quality education program in a centre she was already familiar with and staff whom she was comfortable with. The main reason it worked well for our family, is the fact that I could drop both of my kids off at 7:30am and get to work on time, and pick them up at 4pm. I wouldn’t have been able to make this work in a ‘traditional kindergarten’. One downside, is that you still need to pay child care fees, so it is a costly option overall. But from my personal experience, that is the only down side.

I or the Baby Hints & Tips writing team would be happy to answer any other questions you may have. Simply leave a comment below or ask a question via Facebook message. We can even post a question to our community if you’d like to get some other parent’s advice, opinions or experiencing regarding Child Care.

Further reading

Childcare Options in Australia

Transitioning Your Baby into Childcare

5 Helpful Tips for Settling Into Childcare Smoothly

Why my Daughter Still Goes to Childcare

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  1. Thanks for the advice to choose a child care centre in a convenient location, such as near your work or home, so that you can easily drop them off and pick them up. This would be important to ensure you can fit it into your schedule and are able to get to them quickly if there’s ever a problem. A good way to find one would be to talk to people in your area, such as friends and neighbors, and then look online so that you can find a child care centre in a good location and which will be able to provide the instruction and help you want for your kid.

  2. Avataramaxwell888 says:

    I like how you said that a child care center should have a lot of places to play and times scheduled throughout the day for these types of activities. Thanks for mentioning how they should be located relatively close to you so that you won’t have to drive long to get to your kids. My husband and I are looking into child care centers for our little twin daughters to go to while we are at work.

  3. This is helpful to parents who are searching for the right child care center for their kids. Their are certain
    criterias that they explain very well on how important it is in choosing the right child care. Among all the
    citeria provided it will always important that your kids will enjoy together as they learn.

  4. Avatarkylewayne182 says:

    I like that you talked about finding a school that will be convenient for you to go to on a regular basis. My aunt is looking to find an early learning center she can take her younger girl to. I think I will talk to her about finding a center based off of what’s convenient for her.

  5. My husband and I are planning for children, but I would like to keep working. I appreciate your advice that we could receive child care rebates based on our income. This would be really helpful to us!

  6. AvatarGerty Gift says:

    You made a great point about not being afraid to ask questions when you’re on the tour. I’ve been nervous about finding a place for my kids to spend the day while I’m at work and I have a lot of questions for how they will be taken care of. It’s put me at ease to know that it is welcomed and recommended to ask questions. Thank you for your help.

  7. I agree that location is important. If you are going to take your child to daycare on your way to work, you will want to find a center that is on the way, like you said. I will definitely have to consider picking a convenient and close location when finding a daycare center. This will take a lot of stress off me.

  8. AvatarSilas Knight says:

    It’s great to know how to find a child care option. I didn’t even realize that some might offer a kindergarten, but that would be really nice! We could have our son get taken care of while he’s younger, then get educated once he’s older.

  9. AvatarJoy Butler says:

    I’m grateful for your advice about bringing our children to the right child care center. Our granddaughter who is now 5 years old keeps on telling us that she already wants to go to the school just like her big brother. And there is only one factor that we need to look into, its location.

  10. AvatarJosue Andrade says:

    These are some really great tips to read through! It’s just so hard to know how your child will be treated on a day-to-day basis. You could find a seemingly perfect childcare center but they could end up being the school from Matilda! Luckily, I found a great place for my small human that they really enjoy and I hope others can find their perfect daycare from reading this post as well! 

  11. This is some really good information about child care. My sister is looking for a daycare for her son. I liked that you pointed out that it might be smart for her to look for a place that uses an EYLF curriculum. That does seem like a good way for her to make sure her son is learning.

  12. AvatarArya Smith says:

    I totally agree when you said that it is a must to also consider the location of the center when choosing a facility since they might also stay in there until they start schooling. I will definitely follow this tip because my husband and I have busy schedules, so we must find one that we can easily access from home and work. Thanks for the tips on how to choose a daycare center.

  13. I like that you suggested touring the child care center that you’re interested in so you can get a feel for it and determine if it will make you feel welcomed. My husband and I are looking to find a child care center for our son. We want our son to be treated fairly and feel comfortable in the child care center that we will choose for him, so I’ll consider all your tips.

  14. AvatarMarcus Coons says:

    I totally agree with you in that it is important to consider choosing a child care center that is close to work. It is important to understand that doing some research can help you find the best way to care for your child. Personally, I would also want to take the time to compare several centers in order to find the best one for the needs of my kid.

  15. I really appreciate your tip to find a child care center in a good location. My wife and I both work, so we need to find a daycare for our son. I will be sure to find one that is in a safe location!

  16. Thanks for your depth informative post. As a mom child care are good option but Child care is not a alternative way of mom care.

  17. My husband and I recently had our first child, but we aren’t sure where to take her now that its time for me to go back to work. Your article had great tips for choosing a daycare service, and I liked how you said to make sure they have a good staff, and that services with employees that have been there awhile and are happy in their jobs are services to consider. Thanks; we’ll keep this in mind when choosing the daycare service best for our daughter.

  18. There is a lot that you have to look into when choosing child care for your child. I particularly like that the article goes over the ratings that the center will be awarded with. That way you know how to choose the right one for you and your family.

  19. My wife and I want to enroll our son in a daycare soon, so thanks for sharing this. I like your point about checking the ratings of different care centers. I will be sure to check there ratings beforehand so I can narrow down my choices.

  20. AvatarP. Walters says:

    I have been totally guilty of burying my head in the sand about these things. I sent my kids to daycare centers and I carefully checked the people, I did not check the facility as carefully as I should have. Everything pretty much turned out ok, but in retrospect I wish I had been more careful. When my 7 year old (who was behind my other kids by six years) was ready for her first pre school, my wife and I were much more careful than we had been with the other two. Thanks for a great article.

  21. AvatarLavi Mare says:

    It was really nice to know that I can visit the child care center for a tour and get a feel of everything from the staff, to the facilities, and even the happiness of the children. It is important for me to be careful in choosing a facility since I am leaving me twins there. It’s only natural for a mother to want them to stay safe, happy, and protected. I will be sure to set a date and have a tour around the few child care centers that I am considering.

  22. Thanks a lot for sharing such a useful article. I have gotten much information. But I have a little question that is child care center really safe for a baby? Will they take care properly all time? And will it be very expensive cost for a middle family? Could you please suggest me? Then I will be benefited. I am new at this. Consider me a newbie on this. I will await your valuable response with great interest. Anyway, I will save your post link and I will share it with my friends. I hope they will be benefited by this article.

  23. My husband and I recently had our first child, and we’re considering taking her to an early learning center. Your article had some great tips for choosing a center like this, and I liked how you said to choose a facility that has a low staff turnover rate so your child wont get attached to a caretaker that will leave after a month or so. Staff that has been there for a long time probably enjoy their jobs and that particular center, so this will be an important factor when choosing the learning center for our little girl.

  24. My wife and I are looking at getting a daycare for our daughter in the near future. It’s helpful to know that daycare will cost between $90-$100 per day. We’ll be sure to factor this into our monthly budget so that we can afford the best daycare possible.

  25. Thanks for pointing out how important it is to go look for a suitable amount of staff to child ration in the daycare facility. If I were getting my child in a daycare, I would want to make sure that there are enough personnel on the school to keep watch to the children and attend to their needs. This tip will surely help me the best day care facility for my son when he is old enough.

  26. My aunt has a lot of young kids, so I think she may benefit from sending them to daycare. I love how you mentioned that one should take a tour of a child care center and see if it feels right. These tips could help my aunt find a great daycare in her area, so thank you for sharing them!

  27. Thanks for pointing out that we should choose a childcare center with low staff turnover, since it indicates a quality establishment where people are happy working. I’ll be starting a new job soon and need to find a day care center for my son. I wasn’t sure what to look for in a high-quality center, so thanks for the tip to look for low staff turnover rates.

  28. Hi, Thanks for your great article. I want to add an important point with you that make sure your baby has ample time alone with Daddy. His touch and voice are different than yours, and this will begin a bonding process and give you a break. Plus, it gets the baby used to be with someone other than you. The first few times can be hard. Make sure your baby is fed and well rested, as this will give you at least one or two hours before you’re needed again. Then leave Dad and the baby alone. If you stay nearby, make sure the baby can’t see or hear you and resist the urge to go into the room and “fix” things if she starts crying. Your baby cries with you and your experiment to find out what’s wrong. Dads need time to do this too – in their own way. By allowing this time, your child will learn there is more than one way to receive comfort, which will help immensely when you leave your baby with a sitter or another family member for the first time. You could have your partner bathe her, put her to bed or just read or talk to her.

  29. Thanks for sharing this helpful information. I am a corporate mom. But I was worried about to choose baby care center for my first baby? Actually, I got a lot of information from your blog which you have written your blog. Review this article my confusion is clear, Thanks.

  30. AvatarGerty Gift says:

    I liked what you said about the staff to child ratio. My brother is looking for a child care center for his son, but doesn’t know what to look out for. I think that this would be a really good thing to look for so that he knows that his son is getting the attention he needs.

  31. AvatarLiv Smith says:

    There are some things in this article that I hadn’t considered before, like the location being a big factor on how to pick a good daycare center. My daughter has a little girl who she’s considering taking to daycare so she can start working again, so I’ve been doing research on how to know if a daycare is the best fit for her and this article was so nicely written and it explained exactly what I needed to know. Thank you, I’ll keep these tips in mind when we go find a good daycare.

  32. AvatarRidley Fitzgerald says:

    It’s great to know more about choosing a day care center. We’re going to need one for my son once my wife goes back to work, so this is great. I’ll be sure to find one that is close to work and home, like you said. That would be so convenient.

  33. This is some really good information about child care. My wife and I want to enroll our son in a daycare soon, so thanks for sharing this. I like your point about checking the ratings of different care centers. I will be sure to check there ratings beforehand so I can narrow down my choices.

  34. of course, the parents who are searching for best and near to their location for their baby to make a part of the baby care center. The parents should inquire about the centers make a list you choose, visit those baby care centers, clear your questions after the completion of these processes. If you are okay with the center then you can join your baby in that Baby care center.