It is about this time of year when many people start to think about what childcare options are available to them. Jumping on line and typing in “childcare” to your favourite search engine can present you with a very scary list of options. Below i will outline the top 5 childcare options with a few of the pros and cons for each.
What Childcare Options do I have?
Firstly, lets set a scene for the below options, lets assume you are a mother who is going back to work for a day and half per week, you are at home for the other 3 weekdays and weekends, but you are hoping to use two days of childcare to give you half a day a week to yourself – its important to have some “me” time, i think it makes me a better parent.
Childcare Option 1 – Childcare Centre or Daycare Centre
There are many benefits to using a licensed childcare centre, from extensive toys and materials, a continuity of care through to large open natural play spaces.
At a high quality childcare centre, your child will receive personalised age appropriate learning experiences that will stay with them for life, you can view our facebook page to see just some of the experiences that are typical among the industry.
Its important that your child’s learning is documented and communicated to you, a quality day care centre will provide you with that. Childcare Centres are open long hours and fit in with your working life, a good centre will also have a stable staff roster that will ensure a consistency of care for your child.
Childcare or Long day care is one of the most heavily regulated industries in Australia, this almost guarantees you a minimum standard of care between all day care centres. The federal and state governments have been working together over several years to ensure that childcare is cost effective to all working families and contrary to much of the media articles you would see or hear, compared to almost any other form of care it is cheap!
There are a few draw backs to using childcare centres, there is the obvious spreading of infection, but children pick up infection from all sorts of places, shopping trollies, their own feet or that snail they ate in the back yard when your back was turned. A poor quality centre may also have a high staff turnover rate which can lead to a sense of instability for your child if the centre doesn’t deal with the issue properly.
Childcare could cost you as little as $20 a day or $2,080 a year for your 2 days of care, thats about $2 an hour for regulated, high quality childcare that caters to your child’s individual needs.
Childcare Option 2 – Family Day Care
Family day care is becoming more regulated which will no doubt lead to a higher standard of care, i think this will be good for the industry.
there are some major drawbacks to family day care as i see it, namely the fact that your child is being being looked after in a “strangers” own home, often with that strangers own children. I know when i am with my children i find it difficult to concentrate on anything else. You must also consider the mixed ages of the children in family daycare, it is possible that your 1 or 2 year old child could be in a small group including some 5 year olds depending on the time of day and other factors, you have to be comfortable with the fact that the age range in the group can be from 6 months to 12 years.
Family day care does have a couple of benefits if you choose the right carer, mostly they have small group sizes, charge by the hour so you only pay for what you use and can have a homely feel to the environment.
Typically family day care will cost around $10 per hour, thats $70 a day or $140 for your two days care a week, you would expect to outlay around $7,000 a year for family daycare.
Childcare Option 3 – Nanny or Au Pairs
Well child care doesn’t come any more convenient than a live in nanny or au pair, they are under your roof, available almost 24×7 and can take on much more than childcare.
There are some negatives to consider with the nanny/au pair childcare option, the first of which is the cost, if you are responsible to feed them, house them and pay them some form of wage then the costs are quickly going to mount up. It is also not usual for a nanny or au pair to come with any formal qualifications, it is unlikely that a nanny will have any idea how to provide for your child’s educational needs.
However coming home to clean house, cooked meal, ironing completed and your child bathed and ready for bed may be an attractive option. These are some of the benefits that come with having an au pair, not to mention the fact that your child could develop a life long bond to someone that they would be spending a very large portion of their day with.
Its hard to judge the cost of an au pair, i have seen guides saying with all things considered you could be spending up to $80,000 a year on an au pair.
Childcare Option 4 – Grandparents
If you are luck enough to have parents around who are willing and able to take on the childcare of your child, they can be a very tempting option, they are usually free and who else could love your child as much as Nana and Grampa?
The down side of using grandparents for your child care options are many, it is a huge burden for a grandparent to lock themselves in to caring for your child 2 fixed days a week. I have seen this turn in to a job for some grandparents and the enjoyment of being a grandparent taken away from them, dealing with dirty nappies, grumpy sleep deprived children throwing tantrums is not in a grandparents job description. While your parents have all the love to give their grandchild, they may not be best placed to ensure your child is developing the essential developmental skills to ensure they are ready to start their development for full time schooling.
The obvious benefit to using your parents for child care is that they are free (maybe) and there is no doubt they love your child as much as you do. Here is an interesting article written by a grandmother regarding her childcare experience.
Childcare Option 5 – Babysitter
So you could choose to use the “girl next door” to baby sit for you on the days you work, she is close, easy to contact and you have known her since she was a kid.
A baby sitter however is unlikely to come with any formal qualifications, isn’t going to have an age appropriate program developed to cater for your child’s needs, your baby sitter is unregulated and unsupervised… we have all seen the bad baby sitter videos, they are so prevalent they have formed a whole industry around bad baby sitters. Remember that a baby sitter doesn’t come with any of the cost savings that are available through tax benefits or childcare benefits if your baby sitter charges $20 an hour you are up for maybe $200 a week for your two days of childcare – thats $10,400 a year.
The good thing about using a baby sitter like this is they can develop a very close personal bond with your child. Secondly, they can be used at times outside of those times you have them booked for to allow you to work and spend time being you. If you feel a baby sitter is for you then here is a good place to start.
You can find more specific advise around which benefits may apply to your child care options at the family assistance website.
Best of luck choosing your childcare options… We would love to hear what childcare option you choose and why, you can leave us a comment below.