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Comparing Your Child Care Options

Once you've gone over and understood the different types of child care available, you need to decide which option suits you and your child. Directory Listings recommends that you compare the pros and cons of different types of child care, and consider major factors such as:
  • When you need child care (whether it's full-time or 2 or 3 days a week).
  • Where you need child care (for example at home or near work).
  • Your budget.
  • Your child's temperament, interests and needs.
  • Your values and parenting philosophies (Such as discipline, philsophy etc.).

Child care comparison table

The table below summarises the main advantages and disadvantages of different types of child care.

Type

Pros

Cons

Au Pair
  • Exposes the family to another culture and language.
  • A cheaper option than a full-time nanny.
  • Individual attention for your child.
  • Child stays in own home and familiar environment. Routines do not have to change. No need to travel and less exposure to illness.
  • Au pair is living with the family, so can be flexible to fit in routines and special needs (eg holidays).
  • Consistency of care can be an issue. (NB: Au pairs on a Working Holiday visa are restricted to 6 months' work with one employer.)
  • Generally young and living away from home, so will need some personal guidance and advice.
  • May not be interested in child care as a career option, and may have little experience.
  • You may feel you lose some privacy and space with another person sharing your home.
  • If you employ a au pair directly, rather than use an agency, you will be responsible for wages, tax, superannuation etc.
Babysitter
  • Flexible child care, especially for short periods over evenings and weekends.
  • Child stays in home environment.
  • Gives parents a chance to take a break without a long-term child care commitment.
  • Child care experience varies and babysitters are not always qualified.
  • May not be available for regular long-term care or longer hours.
Family Day Care
  • A more affordable child care option.
  • A safe, home environment with consistent care.
  • Most educators have had children of their own.
  • Interaction with a small group of children of varying ages.
  • Can be arranged to fit in to your schedule.
  • You will need to arrange back-up care if the educator is ill or unavailable.
  • There is not the same range of toys, equipment and activities as at a child care centre.
  • You will have to arrange travel to and from the educators home.
In Home Care
  • May be the best option in special situations eg parents working non-standard hours, sick child.
  • Flexible child care to suit the hours you need.
  • Individual attention for your child.
  • Child stays in home environment. Routines do not have to change. No need to travel and less exposure to illness.
  • Can be expensive, depending on how long care is needed.
  • Child may miss out on daily social interactions if there are no regular play dates and outings.
  • You will need to arrange back-up care if the carer is ill or unavailable.
Long Day Care (Child Care Centre)
  • For a single child, it is usually cheaper than hiring a nanny.
  • Care is always available during opening hours. The centre will manage replacement staff if any carer is ill or unavailable.
  • Provides a structured program with routine and activities.
  • Centres are licensed facilities, and all staff will have relevant experience and qualifications.
  • Child meets a range of other children and educators.
  • Less individual attention than nanny or au pair.
  • Child is exposed to more people and more illnesses.
  • Child may find it hard to settle in to unfamiliar environment.
  • Many centres have long waiting lists and fees can be expensive.
  • May not be flexible enough to suit your child's individual temperament and needs.
  • You will have to arrange travel to and from the centre.
Nanny
  • Individual attention for your child. One-on-one care is especially important for children under one.
  • Consistent care from one person.
  • Generally a professional child carer, with relevant qualifications.
  • Hours are flexible, depending on your contract agreement.
  • Child stays in own home and familiar environment. Routines do not have to change. No need to travel and less exposure to illness.
  • You can have more say in child care as nanny is your direct employee.
  • Some nannies do light housework.
  • Can be expensive compared with other child care if you have one child.
  • Child may miss out on daily social interactions if there are no regular play dates and outings.
  • You will need to arrange back-up care if the nanny is ill, takes holidays or leaves.
  • If you employ a nanny directly, rather than use an agency, you will be responsible for wages, tax, superannuation etc. Read about your obligations for employing a nanny.
  • You may feel you lose some privacy and space with a live-in nanny sharing your home.
Nanny Sharing
  • You have the benefits of a nanny but with lower costs.
  • You only pay for the time you need the nanny.
  • If the nanny is caring for children from two families simultaneously, they may form strong friendships.
  • Administration and paperwork can be shared with the other family.
  • It can take time and effort to find a compatible family to share a nanny with.
  • You will need to co-ordinate holidays and any changes in schedule with the other family.
  • Disagreements between the nanny and one family may affect the other family.

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