In Australia, there are many options for childcare. Children under the age of two are usually in their parent’s care. However, children aged six to 12 are more likely to be in formal care. It is therefore crucial to choose the right type of care for your child. Read on for information about daycare, preschool, and ECEC.



A recent Productivity Commission review of Australian data on ECEC programs found that the number of children enrolled in formal programs increases with age, while the proportion of children in informal non-parental care declines. Furthermore, children who participate in ECEC at age 3 or 4 are more likely to use ECEC programs later on in life.

Research conducted in Australia has shown that children who attend ECEC programs show more substantial cognitive gains than children attending daycare. However, the findings from the LSAC study did not assess quality or dosage, which should be taken into account when considering cognitive outcomes.

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Child care

In Australia, child care can take the form of either daycare or preschool. Both services are important for the development of young children, and early childhood education can also help prepare parents for a return to work. The Australian Government provides many subsidies and programs to help families afford high-quality care for their children. The programs are offered in school settings, stand-alone preschools, or centre-based daycare services.

In recent years, preschool education in Australia has undergone major reforms. Under the National Partnership Agreement on Early Childhood Education (NPECA), state and territory governments are committed to delivering quality programs for children from birth to three years. These programs would be led by qualified early childhood educators for at least 15 hours a week, 40 weeks of the year.

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A daycare is a formal institution, where a qualified teacher provides structured play-based education to young children in the early years of development. It can be a long-day care centre, a stand-alone facility, or both. Preschools operate in different jurisdictions and generally take children from three to four years of age. They are usually not-for-profit community-based services and have parent management committees.

The Australian Early Development Census shows a positive correlation between preschool experience and the likelihood of attending school. This is especially true in learning domains. Children who had some Early Child Education and Care were less likely to have been identified as developmentally vulnerable than those who had not received it.



In Australia, every child is entitled to free or subsidised preschool education for at least 15 hours a week. Most preschools cater to children aged three to five years old, though some have special programs for younger children. Preschool programs vary widely, though, and can be found in both long-day care centres and stand-alone facilities. Check out the Raising Children Network website for information about different types of preschools in your state.

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Preschools and daycares generally operate in school terms, with most centres operating between 9.00 am and 3.00 pm. Some preschools may be open longer or shorter than this, and some will offer both daytime and evening sessions. Preschools are community-based, not-for-profit services run by professional teachers and parents who work on the management committee.