Early childhood education and care options

 

There are many forms of early childhood education and care in Queensland.

Choosing a service that’s right for your family will depend on your child’s needs and family circumstances.

Most service types have regulatory standards in place to ensure quality and safety for children. This may help you decide on a service that’s right for your family.

 

Early Years Places

What it is: In the one welcoming location, families will find a mix of services including playgroups, early childhood education and care, kindergarten, health services, and family and parenting support. Learn more.

Child’s age: Pre-natal to 8 years old.

Open times/fees: Each service has their own fees and operating hours, contact your local service to find out more.

 

Playgroup

What it is: Playgroups bring young children, parents, families, and communities together to learn and connect through informal play activities and social interaction. Together with their children, parents and caregivers can explore the benefits of play, share parenting knowledge, and build social and support networks that can encourage and assist them in their valuable parenting role.  Learn more.

Child’s age: Birth to 5 years old.

Open times: Different types of playgroups run at various times during the week. Search online for your local playgroup.

Fees: Ask your local playgroup about fees.

Be a Play Star: Join Playgroup Queensland for free and become a Play Star if you sign up before your child turns one. Learn more.

 

Kindergarten services

What it is: Kindergarten services provide a play-based educational program to children in the year before school. An approved kindergarten program is offered by a qualified early childhood teacher with support from qualified educators.

Open times: Services can operate during school terms from 8.45am to 2.45 pm (5 days each fortnight) or from 8.00am to 3.30pm (4 days each fortnight) with an average of 15 hours per week.

Child’s age: 4 years old by 30 June (the year before school). Use the kindy calculator to find out when your child can start kindy and school.

Fees: Each kindy service has a different fee structure. A government subsidy supports all children to attend an approved kindergarten program – look for the kindy tick. Some families may be eligible for an additional subsidy to reduce out-of-pocket costs. Contact your service to find out more.

Regulatory standards: Kindergarten services comply with a range of legislative requirements including physical space and educator-to-child ratios. Learn more about how kindergarten services are assessed.

 

Long day care

What it is: Long day care services provide full- or part-time care, before and after school care, vacation care, and may provide an approved kindergarten program (look for the kindy tick).

Child’s age: From birth to school age. Children are often grouped together according to their age, or developmental stage, to maximise learning outcomes.

Open times: Long day care services are generally open for 10 hours a day, from Monday to Friday. Some services offer a limited age range, or operate on different days of the week.

Fees: Each service has their own fee structure, you can contact your local service to find out more. Long day care services often receive Australian Government Child Care Subsidies.

Regulatory standards: Long day care services must comply with a range of legislative requirements, including physical space and educator-to-child ratios.

 

Occasional care services

What it is: Occasional care services provide education and care to children on a casual or adhoc basis.

Child’s age: Birth to 5 years old.

Open times: The service is usually managed by the community or local government, and does not usually offer full-time or all day education and care to children on an ongoing basis.

Fees: Each service has their own fees and operating hours, contact your local service to find out more.

Regulatory standards: Programs must be offered by staff that hold relevant qualifications specified by Queensland law.

 

Family day care

What it is: Family day care offers flexible education and care for children in the private homes of registered carers.

Child’s age: Birth to 12 years old.

Open times: Family day care may be available for a full day, part day, overnight or weekends.

Fees: Each service has their own fees and operating hours, contact your local service to find out more. Family Day Care services may receive Australian Government Child Care Subsidies.

Regulatory standards: Family Day Care services must comply with a range of legislative requirements and educators are monitored and supported by a family day care scheme coordination unit. Take a look into a quality family day care service here.

 

Limited hours care

What it is: Limited hours care provides short periods of care for children on a casual basis (for example, if a parent needs to attend an appointment). An approved kindy program may be offered by a limited hours care provider.

Child’s age: Birth to school-aged.

Open times: The service is usually managed by the community or local government and is available for around 20 hours a week.

Fees: Services will have their own hours and fee structures, talk to your local service for more information.

Regulatory standards: Programs must be offered by staff that hold relevant qualifications specified by Queensland law.

 

Standalone care

What it is: Standalone care is a service provided in a home, hall or church.

Child’s age: Birth to 12 years old.

Fees/open times: Each service has their own fees and operating hours, contact your local service to find out more.

Regulatory standards: Standalone care services are not required to hold an approval to operate, but must meet Queensland law requirements. Carers must be over 18 years of age and can provide care for up to six children from birth to 12 years old.

 

Outside of school hours care (OSHC) and vacation care

What it is: OSHC services provide the opportunity for school-aged children to relax and play in a supervised environment, outside of school hours. OSHC is delivered in a variety of locations including schools, youth centres, community centres and long day care services.

Child’s age: Primary school-aged children (including those in Prep).

Open times: Before and after school care generally runs 7-9am and 3-6pm, Monday to Friday. Vacation care is usually open for about 10-12 hours a day, Monday to Friday, during school holidays and pupil free days.

Fees: Each service has their own fees. Contact your local service to find out more.

Regulatory standards: OSHC services must comply with a range of legislative requirements, including physical space and educator-to-child ratios.

 

Short-term care and kids’ clubs

Places like shopping centres and gyms often offer care for short periods of time, usually up to three hours, while the parent or caregiver stays on the premises. This type of care does not require any formal approvals to operate.

 

Service regulations

Most early childhood education and care services must comply with a range of legislative requirements, including educator-to-child ratios and physical environment.

 

More information

View the parent checklist for looking for a quality early childhood service.

Find services near you, search by your postcode here.

Find out what you may need when you enrol in one of these services.

Published — 11 April 2019 Last updated — 11 April 2019

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