A good way to make an informed decision about which childcare service is going to be best for you and your child is to arrange a visit.

You need to know that the service will meet both your needs and those of your child. Contact the services you are interested in to arrange a tour and take a checklist with you. 

A checklist: How do you decide which childcare service to use?

  • My child’s routine is [outline routine]. Will you be able to follow this? 
  • How will I know how my child’s day has been? 
  • Can I call during the day to see how my child is going? 
  • What happens if my child becomes unwell? 
  • Can I come to the centre and breastfeed my child? 
  • Do I need to bring any food, and/or what are the meals provided? 
  • Do I need to bring nappies for my child? 
  • What happens in the event of an accident? 
  • What happens if my child gets hurt or bitten by another child? 
  • What are your fees and what do they include? 
  • How do you share regular information about the service? 
  • Is your service accredited? Can I see your quality rating scale? 
  • How do children learn and how will my child’s needs and interests be met? 
  • How do educators set boundaries and limits? What happens when children misbehave or are not listening? 
  • My child has additional needs (medical or developmental). How do you cater for this? 
  • Can I come to the centre with my child to settle them in? 

What to observe when visiting a child care centre

Good relationships

You should be able to see good relationships between adults and children and staff. Staff should speak to children, families and each other politely and respectfully. The feeling at the service should be welcoming and friendly. 

Effective communication

Services should be able to tell you and show you how they will provide you with information about the service and your child’s care. They should also find out important information about you, your child and family. 

Children’s learning and development

All services are required to support children’s learning and development. Every service will do this differently but they should be able to tell you how they plan activities and experiences. This will help your child develop and extend their learning. 

Health and safety

All services must make sure that the environment they provide for your child is safe, clean and properly supervised. They should also promote healthy eating for your child. 

Management

Services should give information about management decisions that affect you and your child. There should be processes for dealing with complaints. There should also be the opportunity to comment on the service’s policies. 

Before your child starts childcare

  • Visit the service and the room where your child will be  
  • Read stories with your child 
  • Drive past and wave 
  • Share information about your child’s interests, settling routine, favourite toys, and so on 
  • Plan a goodbye routine  
  • Express any concerns 
  • Find out the differences in routines the child will have between home and the service  
  • Discuss continuity of care 

The more confident you feel leaving your child, the more secure your child will feel. This will help make the transition a positive one. 

When care starts

  • Build up time away from each other, if possible, before leaving for full days 
  • Always say goodbye 
  • Talk about how your child is settling in 
  • Talk with other parents about their experiences, and 
  • Call the service during the day to see how your child is settling in.  

What to expect

Protests are normal! Children in secure relationships will express that they love their parent best of all. Some children protest when their parent leaves and others will protest on their parent’s return as they do not want to go home at the end of the day. Protests are a sign of healthy attachment and do not mean your child is not coping. This is normal, although it can cause feelings of guilt and frustration in parents. Forming relationships in a supportive, caring environment is important for children.  

Remember
  • Be informed about your child’s routines as well as their play interests 
  • Have conversations with educators. This shows your child there is a team interested in their wellbeing. 

A short conversation each time you drop off or pick up your child helps keep track of your child’s experiences. If you would like a longer conversation with staff to talk about any issues, make a suitable time to talk confidentially.  

Want to know more?

Find a local child care service and child care information – mychild.gov.au  

Learn about quality child care services and standards of care – Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA)