If you’d like your child to receive early education and care in a nurturing and flexible home environment, family day care could be the right option for you.
Family day care is exactly what it sounds like: child care in a family setting. A small group of children is cared for by a qualified early childhood educator in their own home.
The smaller group size and home setting make family day care ideal for very young children. Once families are introduced to this form of childcare they often choose to remain with family day care for the duration of their care needs.
Like centre-based childcare, family day care must meet national childcare standards. Family day care is delivered under the the National Quality Framework, the National Quality Standards and the Early Years Learning Framework. Children enrolled in family day care are also eligible for the childcare subsidy.
Most family day care educators are managed by or work with a community group or for-profit provider (also called coordination centres) that matches families to educators. The coordination centre provides support and resources, monitors the quality of education and care provided, ensures practices are maintained and provides training. Additionally it may assist with resources such as a toy library and playgroup sessions.
Family day care can provide care for babies and children up to 13 years of age, so older siblings can receive care at the same location. Up to four children under school age can be present in a group, with another three school age children able to be present in the educator’s home at any one time.
What makes a great family day care?
The most important thing is to ensure your child is safe and comfortable in the day care setting that you choose. Other things to look for include:
- Supported by a coordination centre. Coordination centres like for-profits and community groups provide family day cares with additional education, support and structure. This fosters a family day care environment in which strong relationships and bonds can grow and high levels of trust can develop.
- A safe environment. The home in which the care is provided should be a safe and secure environment for children to spend their time.
- Varied activities. Home-based care should provide opportunities for children to play both inside the home and in the backyard. A typical day may include craft, stories, music, cooking, games and outdoor play. Most educators will also take children in their care on excursions and to local community events and playgroups.
- An understanding approach. The best family day care educators understand the demands of parenting, and can offer their guidance and support when asked.
- Prioritising healthy relationships. When you speak to a family day care provider, 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 children. When you visit, check that other children are engaged, and whether they have friendly interactions with others.
- Provides care at a time that suits you. Family day care centres can offer care during standard hours, evenings, before/after school, during school holidays and, in some cases, overnight and on weekends.
The top family day care providers in Canberra – 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.
YWCA Canberra's family day care provides care for children from birth to 12 years of age, in the private homes of qualified and professional family day care educators. All educators have, or are working towards, a Certificate III in Children's Services.
Educators are supported by professional and experienced coordinators who monitor safety, children's development and educational programs provided for children.
Family day care is available through YWCA Canberra in Belconnen, Gungahlin, Inner North and Tuggeranong.
Genesis Family Day Care Service is a Canberra-based, child care subsidy approved family day care provider. Its qualified and experienced educators provide activities and play-based learning for children, including weekly outings for playgroup, music time, library and to local parks. Children are cared for in small groups, in a safe, nurturing and stimulating family environment.
Here's what parent Vicki had to say about Genesis Family Day Care Service in a Facebook review: "Fantastic FDC [family day care] where children reach their potentials and enjoy company of educators and other children," she wrote.
Communities@Work is the largest provider of children’s services in the ACT. It provides early education and care services across Canberra, including 12 child care centres, 15 out of school hours care services and 11 school holiday programs. Its family day care and in-home care services deliver high quality small group education and care, provided in educator’s own homes and tailored to individual families' needs.
Communities@Work supports over 85 family day care educators who are self-employed professionals, committed to children’s education, and to their own professional learning. Its family day care educators are supported by the coordination unit at Communities@Work, which is dedicated to leading practice and learning in early childhood education and care. Families accessing its services have praised educators for their passion, interest, and connection to the children.
Your experience with family day cares in Canberra
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Have you had experience with any of the family day cares listed above? If so, share your feedback in the comments below.