Learning begins from the minute your child is born. Whether they’re being cared for at home or in child care, it’s important for them to have opportunities to learn and develop every day.

Research shows children who experience quality early education in their first five years have improved brain function and better health and education outcomes.

Services across Australia receive a quality rating once they have been assessed and rated against the National Quality Standard (NQS). They are given one of these quality ratings: Significant Improvement Required, Working Towards NQS, Meeting NQS, Exceeding NQS or Excellent. When you’re visiting a service, you can ask them about their quality rating, and what the service is doing to improve their rating.

Taking your first step into child care

As all children and families are unique, your experiences will influence whether to enrol your child at a service. Most services have a waiting list, it’s best to sign up for more than one to improve your chances of enrolling at a service you’re happy with.

StartingBlocks.gov.au is the perfect place to start. The ‘Find child care’ tool allows you to enter your postcode to find all the open approved services in your area and check their quality rating. 

Finding a quality child care service

Once you’ve shortlisted your favourites, what next?

Arranging a visit and asking the following questions can help determine the quality of the service and whether it’s the right fit for your child:

  • Do we feel welcome within the service?
  • Are the educators taking time to communicate and answer my questions?
  • Are the educators engaging with children in a warm manner?
  • Is the service safe, clean and hygienic? How does it deal with sickness and accidents?
  • Is there variety in the daily routine and activities?
  • How will the educators let me know what happens during my child’s day?
  • What are the fees? Will I be charged for public holidays or when my child isn’t there?
  • Can I change the days of care? If I do, how much notice is required?

A smooth transition from home

Starting child care is a big milestone, for children and parents.

Some ways you can support your child during the settling in period include:

  • An orientation visit – give your child a chance to explore their new environment.
  • Prepare them for the separation – leave them with their grandparents or your friends for a few hours every day so they get used to your absence.
  • Pack a comforter – a toy or blanket that is something familiar from home for them.
  • Spend some time settling your child in – find a favourite activity at the service for them before you leave.

Taking the time to find child care for your little one can help you make the most of this special time, and provide them with the best start in life through high quality early childhood education and care.