Finding good, affordable childcare in Sydney is going to be a challenge.
Not only is childcare expensive in Sydney (ranging from $75 – $160 per day) but it also comes with long wait lists. You’re going to have to be the squeaky wheel that gets the grease and in this case you’re going to have to start squeaking early and louder than anyone else, especially since you’re moving from abroad.
One of my American expat friends was told by a daycare center that she needed to call them every week because, if she didn’t, they would simply forget about her.
When she told me this my first reaction was “Yeah, right. Whatever. Next” but then she explained that for the price, location, and good recommendations from other moms in her neighborhood, she was more than willing to call once a week. She even scheduled the weekly call in her calendar so she didn’t forget.
I’m not sharing this story with you to scare you but more as a reality check.
Sit down and figure out your finances. Can you budget ~$100 a day for childcare? Can one parent take time off while in Sydney to visit daycare centers? Can you cut down the number of days you will need childcare?
In highly populated areas, finding a daycare center with an open spot is going to be harder. Suburbs like Manly and Woollahra (Eastern Suburbs) are famous for being impossible.
Many parents put their children on wait lists when they find out they’re pregnant. With good reason, as waitlist averages in Sydney are one year. Getting on a waitlist usually comes with a fee ($20 – $50).
Why such a range for long day care costs?
The range of cost between day care centers is dependent on the hours of operation and what the center provides, i.e. lunch, morning snacks (in Australia it’s called morning tea), afternoon tea and diapers or nappies.
Long day care centers often provide a hot lunch for the children but, interestingly enough, they don’t usually provide diapers (or nappies as they say in Australia).
Here is another fun twist for you, most prefer it when children attend for more than one consecutive day.
It would be easy to assume that if the center cost more then you get more or it’s better quality. NOT THE CASE.
Don’t forget to ask
When talking with a center be sure to ask point blank:
- Do you provide lunch?
- Do you provide Morning Tea? Afternoon tea?
- What are your hours of operation?
- What is the fee if we are late picking up our child?
- Is it possible for a friend to pick up our child? Just in case of emergencies. Never know, you may one day need a co-worker to pick up your child. Things happen.
- What is your staff to child ratio? That’s a good one as new accreditation are being put into place throughout Australia.
- What are your accreditations? There’s a link below so you can check out the childcare accreditations they have in Australia.
Hours And Ages Of Long Day Care Centers
Long day care centers are usually open from 7-7:30am to 6pm. If you are late after 6pm or closing time there is a fee usually something astronomical like $20 for every 5 mins late. Be sure to ask.
The ages of the children in long day care range from 6 months to 6 years though some may have age restrictions. For example, they don’t accept any children under 1 years of age.
Alternatives To Long Day Care
An alternative to a long day care is family day care, where a professional carer looks after children in the carer’s home (in the UK I think they call it child minding). Also known as home-based care in Australia.
Family day care is only slightly cheaper than a long day care but some offer more flexible hours, even as far as offering overnight or weekend care.
Is your child preschool age? If so you can reduce the cost of childcare by finding a preschool that has regular school hours, 9am – 3pm. These hours might be a better match for your work schedule.
An Essential Tip For Your Online Research
As you have probably already heard, Aussies have different terms for things often more similar to the UK than the USA.
When searching online try to use the Australian terms: long day care, family day care, out of school hours care, primary school, and secondary school. Using these terms you’ll get more specific and local information.
Here are a few websites to get you started.
If you find any other sites in your searching, could you please post them in the comments section below. It’s very helpful to all the other parents who visit the site looking for information.
Australian Government site where you will find more info on types of childcare and can search for childcare centers throughout Australia. http://mychild.gov.au/
Here is a link to a childcare directory for Sydney. http://www.childcaredirectory.net.au/allsuburb.aspx?council=City+of+Sydney
Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority http://www.acecqa.gov.au/
Family Day Care
An article in the Sydney Morning Herald about the lack of open spots at day care centers. http://www.smh.com.au/data-point/crying-out-for-long-day-care-20121020-27y5u.html#ixzz2WhOVTKEV