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 child care centres do more than just care for your child. They also provide early learning development to support your child’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 child care 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 child care 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 top Canberra child care centres according to you
RiotACT’s editorial team has combed through 19 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 7.30am to 6pm. Lollipop is registered with the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) and works within the National Quality Standard.
Belconnen Community Service (BCS) 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.
BCS’s early childhood centres are limited to 45 places. This small size allows BCS to foster close relationships between families and educators and to take a person-centred approach in their service provision.
Ginninderra Early Childhood Centre (Belconnen Community Centre). This centre provides an environment for children that allows them to reach their full potential. In addition to wet, dry and outdoor play areas, there is a dedicated art space where children can develop their creativity and explore different materials and media.
Bruce Early Childhood Centre (CIT campus). Surrounded by natural bushland, Bruce Early Childhood Centre educators focus on children’s play, sustainability and embedding the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture into the curriculum.
Belconnen Early Childhood Centre (Westfield Belconnen). Long day care services and occasional care for those parents who want to do their shopping child-free.
In relation to school age care services, BCS works closely with three the schools out of which these services are provided: Charnwood Primary School, Florey Primary School and St Matthews Primary School.
Educators at BCS recognise the importance of sustainability and actively encourage children to care for the environment.
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.
Communities@Work is a social enterprise that services the Canberra community and entire ACT region. Its childcare centres offer a range of services such as early childhood education, long day care, out-of-school-hours care and holiday programs. Its centres include:
- Abacus Child Care and Education Centre is located in central Canberra and gives priority enrolment to children of Department of Treasury and Department of Finance staff. The dedicated team provides early learning, free play time, and nutritious meals.
- Narrabundah Early Childhood Service is a community hub providing health care, pre- and post-natal services and community programs in addition to childcare services.
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.
Who did you pick?
Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback on the best and worst Canberra child care centres.
If you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.
Please comment below detailing your experience with Canberra child care centres. Who would you recommend? Who would you use again? Who would you steer clear of?