Day Care Centre or Family Day Care

Which Should I Choose?

You want the absolute best for your child, so when it comes to daycare, which model of care is the best match? In this article we’ll compare the two most common types of day care in Australia: centre-based care and family day care.

We’ll look at:

  • The shared features of family day care and day care centres
  • The major distinction between the two types of care
  • Some of the key points of differences between family day care and centre-based care

What do Centre-based Care and Family Day Care have in Common?

Most providers of both types of care are government approved, meaning; if you are entitled to the early child care subsidy, you should be able to access it using either service. This approval also means providers of both service types are committed to the same National Quality Framework standards administered by the federal government.

What is the Distinction between Centre Care and Family Day Care?

The stand out distinction is that centre-based care, (which is also known as long daycare) operates from a centre, has numerous staff and generally caters to a large number of families. Family day care operates out of private homes, with sometimes just one, or a couple of staff members, and generally caters to a much smaller number of families.

What are some of the Key Points of Difference?

Every service provider is unique, so it’s important to note that the differences we’ve explored below are very general in nature and do not necessarily apply to each and every service provider.

Centre based care tends to provide more structure – Daycare centres offer your child a positive and familiar daily routine. Specific programs and activities like naps, outdoor playtime and lunchtime are scheduled at set intervals throughout the day so your child knows what to expect and when. The structured environment offered at day care centres can make it easier for your child to transition to preschool and then to school.

Family day care in contrast tends to be less structured and formal, with children undertaking more personalised activity schedules based on their parents’ and educator’s goals for them.

Each type of day care has access advantages – At family day care, providers often offer flexible hours, including evenings, weekends and overnight care. Day care centres tend to offer more fixed hours, but the big advantage of day care centres is that even if one educator is sick, the centre can find another staff member to fill in. This is often not the case with family day care: if the educator/carer is unwell that day, families can be left scrambling for a last-minute provider.

Day care centres can offer more programs – Because day care centres care for significantly larger numbers of children they have appreciably larger budgets to work with. As a result, they tend to be able to offer more programs, and more extensive facilities like large outdoor play areas. At Sesame Lane’s day care centres for instance, we offer a range of additional programs to complement standard daily activities, including a Japanese language program, a musical program, swimming lessons and yoga.

Family day care providers combine children of all ages – the big advantage of this is that siblings can spend time together throughout the day if they so wish. This can often be beneficial for the younger sibling, reducing separation anxiety when they first start daycare. Day care centres in contrast tend to group children based on age, which allows for age appropriate activities and play to take place.

Day care centres often also run kindergarten Family day care providers do not. Having kindergarten at the same facility can benefit your child as they won’t have to go through a difficult adjustment period, settling into a new environment when they switch from daycare to kindergarten.

Whether you choose a family day care provider or a day care centre for your child, the important thing is that you and your child feel comfortable with the educators and the quality of the learning environment. It’s definitely worth exploring both options until you find the best daycare provider for you.