Choosing a Child Care Service
Each year families are confronted with the decision about what type of child care is appropriate for their children. To help families negotiate the child care sector, the following information may help you decide what type of care is applicable for your family situation.
Ways2work may also be a valuable website which offers information and resources if you are considering returning to work. You can access their website by clicking here
Parents and the community can often be unaware of the difference between commercial (for-profit) and community owned (not-for-profit) children's services. Community owned children's services are owned by parents committees, community groups or organisations, rather than by individuals. They are run on a not for profit, break-even basis by voluntary parent and community committees of management, local government, church groups or tertiary institutions. Any operating surplus is directed back to the service. There are no owners, directors or shareholders requiring a financial return on an investment.
Community ownership and community owned services are fundamental to the development of a civil society and the maintenance of the highest quality, community shaped care. To find out what make community owned services unique and high quality, click here.
Community Owned Means Communities Grow! - Choose Community Owned!
Types of Care
Long Day Care / Child Care Centres
Out of School Hours Care - Before and After Care and Vacation Care
Family Day Care
In Victoria, education child care services are approved by the Department of Education and Early Development (DEECD), and must comply with the Children's Services Act (1996) and the Children's Services Regulations (2009). The Children's Services Act defines a children's service as 'A service providing care or education for 4 or more children under the age of 13 years in the absence of their parents or guardians;
- for fee or reward; or
- while the parents or guardians of the children use services or facilities provided by the proprietor of the service'
Long Day Care / Child Care Centres
Long day care is child care that is provided in a centre based form, on a part time of full time basis. Child care centres operate for at least eight hours a day, and 48 weeks a year. Child care centres operate from a building that has been specifically built or adapted from an existing building.
The aim of a child care centre is to provide an educational program for children aged 0-6 years, which offers quality care in a nurturing and supportive environment. Child-care research has shown that compared to low quality situations, high quality care can impact young children's intellectual, language, and social skills and behaviour. Many people think that providing child-care comes naturally, but educating and caring for children in groups takes special skills. The best child care staff have education and training about children, and apply this knowledge to their work.
Factors which contribute to high quality child-care are:
- Low child-staff ratio increases the likelihood of one-to-one attention.
- Safe and healthy environment.
- Educators who are nurturing and knowledgeable about children's development.
- Educators have a consistent and stable presence in the child's life.
Out of School Hours Care - Before and After Care and Vacation Care
An Out of School Hours Care Service (OSHC) is a program that has been set up to cater for the needs of primary school aged children and their families before school, after school, during non teaching (or pupil-free) days and during school holidays.
Out of school hours services focus on providing a stimulating environment that cater for children's developmental, social and recreational needs. Most services are provided within school premises, however services can also be provided in other locations such as neighbourhood houses, recreation centres, halls or child care centres.
Family Day Care
Family day care is defined as a network of approved carers working with support, resourcing and monitoring provided by a central Coordination Unit. Family day care is provided by educators who are registered, approved or employed by a licensed / registered family day care scheme/service operator. Family day care educators provide activities in their own homes for other people's children. The objective of family day care is to provide care for up to 7 children (including the carer's own children) of whom no more than 4 children may be under 6 years of age unless the children who are under 6 years of age are—
(a) Students enrolled at preparatory level or above at a school; or
(b) siblings, who are not the carer's own children, in which case no more than 6 siblings may be under 6 years of age; in a stimulating, home like environment, with direct input from the parents about the needs are the care of their children.
Family day care educators are recruited and approved by a Coordination Unit, and the unit offers support, professional development and undertakes administrative duties to educators. Family day care is able to provide flexible child care according to family needs, for children aged 0-12 years and some schemes may provide 24 hour care.
Occasional care is child care provided on an occasional basis in purpose built centres, neighbourhood houses or parent cooperatives. There is generally a limit on the number of hours of care per week. Occasional care provides the flexibility to leave children for short periods of time and be used on a sessional basis or an 'irregular' basis when the situation arises.
Most occasional care services in Victoria are licensed; however some services that operate at gyms, sports and recreation centres may not require a license. Please ask your service provider if you have any questions about whether the service is licensed or not. For more information on the relevant child care services in your area, visit http://www.mychild.gov.au
Subsidies for Families - Child Care Benefit
Child Care Benefit (CCB) is a payment made to families to assist with the costs of child care. Australian residents using child care provided by approved child care services may receive CCB. Families using approved child care are able to choose to receive their CCB through fee reductions or as a Lump sum payment after the Australian Taxation Office has processed their receipts. The level of fee reduction is based on an estimate of their adjusted taxable income for the financial year in which the care was received.
For more information on CCB visit the Commonwealth Family Assistance website www.familyassist.gov.auFrequently Asked Questions 1. Why should I choose a Community Owned Service?
The great thing about Community Owned child care services is that decision making and control is exercised by community members (parents), making community based management different from management in other childcare services that are privately owned or are managed by a corporate childcare chain. Parents have input into decisions and policies that affect the care and education of their children. Parents influence the financial management decisions to ensure that all resources are used to maintain quality. Most parents would agree that children are too precious for profit!2. What are the advantages of community based management in a child care Centre?
- The families using the service can have input into the decision-making processes.
- Members with a range of skills of use to the centre may be elected to the management committee.
- There is scope to encourage staff and family involvement and input into the centre's organisation and activities.
- The management committee is accountable to the membership of the organisation. The constitution sets out the means by which the membership can require accountability. (For example, meetings, elections)
- Because the management is drawn from the community, local issues are understood and can be responded to, making use of local resources.
- As it is a non-profit organisation, any profits are used to enhance the centre.
(Information from VCOSS, (1991) Community Management Handbook: 78-80)
3. What does a parent management committee do?
- Acts on behalf of the members and users of the child care service and is accountable to them
- Monitors the overall management of the service through ongoing evaluation and strategic planning.
- Has legal responsibilities under the Associations Incorporations Act 1981 (Vic) or the Co-operatives Act 1996 (Vic)
- Sets the goals and priorities of the centre - after consulting with parents and staff and considering community needs and expectations.
- Develop / review policy in conjunction with all families and staff
- Employs, manages and supports staff.
- Delegates responsibilities of the day to day running of the service to a Coordinator.
4. When I visit a potential child care service, what should I look for?
To begin, look closely at the actual facility. Do you see?
- Enough toys and learning materials to keep the children happy and busy?
- Covered electrical outlets and secured cords?
- Smoke detectors and fire extinguishers?
- Fire and emergency evacuation plans?
- A certificate of Accreditation from the National Childcare Accreditation Council? If you can't see it, ask.
- A Children's Services License from the DEECD? If you can't see it, ask.
- Cleaning supplies and harmful substances securely stored?
- Clean and fenced outdoor play area?
- Patient and cheerful staff?
- Healthy and happy children busy at play?
- Children eating nutritious snacks and meals?
Spend time watching the staff interact with the children. Do you see staff?
- Smiling at children?
- Talking in ways that children understand?
- Showing children a positive attitude?
- Showing children that they care about them?
- Taking care of crying children?
- Helping children understand how they feel?
- Answering children's questions?
- Encouraging the children to get along with each other?
- Helping children learn from daily routines?
- Creating moments for children to learn new things in a fun way?
- Helping children handle failure and learn ways to be successful?
5. My child clings to me and cries when I leave them at child care. What can I do?
One of the most challenging transitions occurs when parents drop-off and pick-up their children from child care. Many stressors accompany this event: parents need to get to work on time, child care staff want to positively greet each family, and children require time to adapt to the change.
To begin, develop a separation routine, such as a kiss, a hug, and kind words, "I'll see you at the end of the day". Use your separation routine every day to make the transition smoother for children.
In some instances, children need parents to help them make decisions about what to do upon arriving at child care. Parents can spend 5 or 10 minutes helping their children decide how to start the day. When parents show an interest in how their children spend the day at child care, children are more willing to get involved with activities and social relationships.
If children continue to be upset during separations, set a limit on how much time you can spend with your child, monitor your watch, and keep your child informed. "Okay, I can play with you for 10 more minutes before I need to leave for work. What would you like to do until then...?" After the time passes, calmly enact your separation routine and leave for work.
Questions? Contact CCC now for more information: 03 9486 3455 or firstname.lastname@example.org
| Becoming A Member of a Child Care Management Committee 2006
What does a management committee do?
What are the roles and duties of the members of a management committee?
What are the benefits of being a management committee member?
| What is a Community Based Child Care Centre 2006
| It is the decision making and control exercised by community members that makes community based management different from management in other childcare services that are privately owned or are managed by a corporate childcare chain.