Family Day Care; advantages, cost and key differences

 There are many options to consider when looking for a child care service, but have you considered family day care? You may be surprised at the benefits.

Introduction to Family Day Care

When thinking about enrolling your child in a child care service, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the options that are available. Whilst many people choose to access centre-based care services, Family Day Care is another option that is certainly worth considering. Whether it be for part-time or full-time care, there are many high-quality Family Day Care services that might be just what you and your family are looking for.

Family Day Care
Many families who choose the Family Day Care option are biased to these services and continue to choose this type of care for their other children too.

What is Family Day Care?

Family Day Care is where a child is cared for and educated within a family environment – inside an educator’s home. Often these services allow for educators to build very strong relationships with children and their families, and they support children to develop a strong sense of belonging within that educator’s home. Family Day Care educators are able to stipulate their hours of service, meaning that some of these services also offer overnight and respite care which is an added advantage for people like shift workers.  If you are interested in becoming a family day care educator, you can find a range of information and resources to get you started here: Become an Educator (familydaycare.com.au)

What is the difference between family day care and child care?

The most obvious difference between family day care and child care is the size of the service. Child care centres are usually big and busy and children are grouped into separate rooms – usually determined by their age. In a family day care service, an educator will care for a maximum of four children under school age, or a total of 7 children inclusive of school-age kids. This means that many family day care educators are able to provide before and after school care, and in most circumstances they can even pick your child up or drop them off for you.

Family Day Care
Family Day Care can offer more flexibility in terms of hours of care and fees

Family day care services are usually run by just one educator, so it really allows for strong relationships to be built and for a child to feel safe and secure whilst away from their parents or caregivers. At long day care centres, routines are usually very set, whilst family day care has the ability to be more flexible to meet the individual needs of each child – no matter what their age.

Is family day care cheaper than child care?

In general terms, family day care is usually cheaper and more flexible than centre-based care services. Most child care centres have a set cost for a whole day, however family day care is paid for by the hour. Most educators charge between $8-$10 per hour and families are able to utilise their child care subsidy to lower this cost further. This means that if your child only attends 6 hours of family day care, then you are only paying for 6 hours of care whilst in a centre-based service, you usually pay for a full 12 hour day. For information about the child care subsidy and how it relates to family day care, visit the Services Australia website here: Child Care Subsidy – The type of child care you use affects it – Services Australia

What are the advantages of family day care?

Family day care allows for strong connections between the educator and the family and they are often able to accommodate the needs of a family by being more flexible. It’s usually a more relaxed environment and many family day care educators are very mobile, routinely taking children to play groups, Kindergyms and other fun activities that are not possible for centre-based care services.

Many families choose family day care services to reduce and limit a child’s exposure to illnesses as less children certainly means less germs. Other benefits include:

–     A higher level of personalised care.

–     A greater age-range of children being cared for together (eg. Babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers remain together) .

–     A home-like environment that is comfortable, nurturing and engaging.

–     The ability to include school and preschool pick-ups and drop-offs.

–     Flexible start and finish times.

–     Opportunities for overnight, weekend and respite care.

Family Day Care
You might prefer to have your child in a home like environment with just one educator. Have you visited a family day care to see what they can offer?

What are the disadvantages of family day care?

What is seen as a positive for some people can be perceived as a negative for others. Whilst many families like that there is only one educator consistently caring for their child, others might feel uncomfortable with this. Similarly, some parents might prefer a large group for their child to interact with to build their social skills whilst others like the small group that family day care offers, and allows for a calmer environment. It really does come down to personal choice and what you believe is best for your child and your family circumstances.

A few other notable disadvantages to family day care include:

–     Families will need to arrange their own back-up care if the educator is unwell or unavailable.

–      There is often not the same range of toys and activities that are available within a child care centre.

–     There is a possibility that your child’s personality might not be a good match for the other children in the group

–     There is a possibility that your child’s personality might not be a  good match for the educator.


Is family day care governed by the same laws and regulations as child care services?

A family day care service is considered an accredited child care service and therefore must comply with the National Quality Standards and Education and Care Services National Regulations. The home environment must meet stringent checks to ensure it is safe and appropriate and policies must be in place to guide the daily operations and practices of the educators. To learn more about assessment and rating processes for family day care services, visit the following website: Family Day Care materials | ACECQA

Family Day Care
Family Day Care services still need to comply with the National Law and Regulations, as all child care centres do.

Family day care services are also required to provide a quality learning program that is tailored to meet the needs of individual children and to support them to grow, develop and learn. The program must be based on an approved learning program and educators will need to demonstrate an effective planning cycle is in place for supporting each child’s learning.

The Early Years Learning Framework is a nationally approved curriculum for children aged birth-5 years and the My Time, Our Place Framework is the approved national curriculum for school-age children in child care settings. You can find both of these documents here:

BELONGING, BEING & BECOMING (acecqa.gov.au)

My Time Our Place Framework (acecqa.gov.au)

How do I find Family Day Care near me?

The Family Day Care Australia website has a ‘find child care’ search application that will help you locate an accredited family day care service near you. All you need to do is enter your post code and the website will do the rest. You can find this service here: Find Child Care (familydaycare.com.au)

Family Day Care
Family Day Care has definite advantages as well as what some may see as disadvantages but the choice is very individual.

Summary of Family Day Care

Family day Care Services most definitely provide a home like, flexible option for some families and this can be a huge advantage, but ultimately, this is a family decision and very individual to your needs and values. It is wise to visit several centre options in your area before you make a decision and meet the educator/s. If you are looking for flexible care within a comfortable home environment – you should definitely consider family day care as an option.

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