Whether you’re looking for long day care, occasional care or after school care, choosing the right education and care services for your family can be difficult. From navigating waiting lists and fee structures to finding a provider that aligns with your parenting philosophies, it’s no wonder many parents feel overwhelmed.
The best option for you will depend on your needs, and the environment that you and your child are most comfortable in.
It’s important to remember that childcare centres do more than just care for your child. They also provide early learning development to support your kid’s health and wellbeing and social and emotional skill development.
Here’s what to keep in mind while searching for the perfect provider.
What makes a great childcare centre?
The most important thing is to ensure your child is safe and comfortable in the setting that you choose. Other things to look for include:
- Prioritising healthy relationships. When you speak to education and care service providers, they should give you their time and attention. They should be open, honest, welcoming and friendly when they meet you. Similarly, they should prioritise strong relationships with both educators and other children. Are the other children engaged at the service, and do they have friendly interactions with others?
- Consistent service approach. This means that all educators work together as a team, providing the same standard and level of education and care. Consistency can also be seen in the communications you receive from them.
- Low staff turnover. Look out for organisations where there has been a large and continuous rotation of new educators. This could indicate organisational issues not apparent on a surface level.
- Positive relationships with schools (for out of school hours care). If you are searching for Out of School Hours Care, look to see if service providers have a positive relationship with the school. A healthy relationship between both will ensure consistency for children and can provide extra support for families.
- Location. The closer to your home or work a childcare centre is, the better.
Remember, small providers can be just as good as larger ones. Being small allows educators more opportunities to create strong relationships with the children and families, create a community environment and maintain high levels of communication.
The best childcare centres in Canberra
RiotACT’s editorial team has combed through 20 years of on-site comments to compile a list of the most recommended businesses according to you.
To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on RiotACT and maintain a minimum average of 4/5 stars on both Google and Facebook reviews.
Lollipop Early Learning Centre is an inclusive children’s learning centre, offering long day care and occasional care for babies and children up to 5 years of age.
Lollipop provides a flexible and family oriented approach, which encourages parents and guardians to have input into the care requirements for each child.
Educators at Lollipop recognise routines as “care moments” and identify these as rich learning opportunities for their little people. Each child is considered as strong, capable and resilient: rich with wonder and knowledge.
By allowing children to engage in meaningful play-based learning experiences, children discover a love of learning, it enhances early education and prepares children for the transition into school. Children at Lollipop have lots of fun and are always learning!
Lollipop is located in the heart of Woden next to Westfield and operates Monday to Friday from 7:30 am to 6:00 pm. Lollipop is registered with the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) and works within the National Quality Standard.
Rohini Ramesh wrote on Google, "My daughter absolutely loves Lollipop ELC. All the educators there are so caring and loving!"
Phillip ACT 2606
Formerly known as Belconnen Community Service, Capital Region Community Services (CRCS) has provided education and care services in Canberra for over 40 years. With three early childhood centres and three school age care services, it offers high quality education and care for children up to Year 6.
CRCS's early childhood centres are limited to 45 places. This small size allows CRCS to foster close relationships between families and educators and to take a person-centred approach in their service provision.
Located in central Canberra, Sage Education & Childcare is a state-of-the-art early education facility open to toddlers and pre-school aged children. The dedicated team at Sage believe that a child’s curiosity and zest for learning should always lead the way.
In addition to childcare services, Sage Education and Childcare offers a meal preparation service run by qualified chefs.
Communities at Work is a leader in the education and care sector, committed to providing quality care for children. It operates 12 childcare centres, 15 out of school hours care services, 11 school holiday programs, and family day care and in-home care services.
As the largest provider of children’s services in the ACT region, Communities at Work provides high quality childcare from birth to preschool for over 1,300 children. Its centres are supportive and caring family and community environments, underpinned by a strong educational foundation that fosters well-being and a love of learning.
Since opening their bespoke facility in 2014, Artemis has carved out an impressive reputation for its high-quality service.
Artemis caters for children between 6 weeks and 5 years of age and prides itself of a culture of continual innovation and improvement.
Its location in Fyshwick close to the Newcastle St exit from Monaro Highway makes it remarkably easy to access for a large chunk of Canberra and Queanbeyan residents.
From the large commercial kitchen and associated dining room, to the pirate-ship-themed playground, Artemis have reshaped Canberra’s child care standards.
Hours of operation Monday to Friday 7:30 AM to 6:00 PM.
Whilst you’re searching for childcare centres, you should also check out our articles on the best school holiday programs and activities in Canberra.
Your experience with childcare centres in Canberra
Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback on the best and worst Canberra childcare centres.
If you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.
Please comment below detailing your experience with Canberra childcare centres. Who would you recommend? Who would you use again? Who would you steer clear of?
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best age to start daycare for my child?
Generally speaking, a good age to start looking into daycare is after your child's first birthday. However, the best time to start daycare can depend on things like your work situation, or your child's ability to adjust to new environments and people.
How many hours a day should my toddler spend at daycare?
Daycare is usually about as long as a normal school day, beginning at 9am and finishing at 3pm and, there are some centres that offer after-school care hours. It is generally recommended that you don't leave your child at daycare any longer than 8 hours.
Why should I send my child to daycare?
Sending your child to daycare can be a great way to aid in their development, as well as allow you some time to yourself, whether that's for work, caring for younger children, or simply some time to relax.
What will my child do at daycare?
At daycare, your child will be fed, play with other children, and be guided through learning and enrichment activities by qualified child carers. If they are young enough, you can also expect your child to be changed and cleaned regularly.
What are the benefits of childcare on early development?
Childcare gives your child an opportunity to develop social skills, which helps them form healthy relationships with other people. Early start child care will help them learn how to get along with other children, share and take turns, listen to others, communicate their ideas and become independent.