Childcare Terms Explained

Approved childcare

Approved childcare refers to all childcare services (including long day care, family day care, outside school hours care, occasional care, and in-home care) that have been approved by the Australian Government to receive Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate payments on behalf of families, in the form of fee reductions.



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Child Care Benefit (CCB)

The Child Care Benefit is a type of financial assistance that helps eligible families with the costs of approved and registered care. The rate of the Child Care Benefit that eligible families can access depends on their level of family income.



Child Care Rebate (CCR)

The Child Care Rebate is a type of financial assistance that helps families cover 50% of their childcare expenses. It is currently capped at $7,500 per child per financial year, on top of any other child care assistance and only applies to eligible families who attend approved childcare services.



Child portfolio

A child portfolio is an individual folder that contains observations, stories, and artwork that reflect your child’s developmental and learning progress during the time they’re in childcare. They’re used by the educators to document and share a child’s experiences with their families. Traditionally, this is done in paper format and is given to families as keepsakes at the end of each year. However, nowadays there are online child portfolios that are used by an increasing number of childcare centres.



Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF)

Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) is a nationally approved learning framework that outlines practices that support and promote children’s learning from birth to five years of age, as well as their transition into school. It’s used by educators in care and education services as guidance in setting up their education programmes. EYLF is a part of the National Quality Framework.



Educator

Educators are the staff members who work in childcare services providing care and education to the children. In centre-based childcare services, the educators must hold at least an approved Certificate III Level Education and Care qualification.



Educator to child ratio

The educator to child ratio refers to the minimum number of educators required for a particular number of children in attendance. The current ratio is different for each state and each age group.



Enrolment

When a parent is offered a spot in a childcare centre and accepts it, they then go on to enrol their child. A child is officially enrolled when all necessary enrolment forms have been filled in correctly and returned to the centre. Some centres also require a deposit to be paid upon enrolment.



Family day care

Family day care services offer home-based education and care for children aged 0 to 12 years old. The service is provided in the educator's own home, where children with different ages are grouped together. Family day care services offer flexible services during standard working hours, evenings, before and after school, during school holidays, and in some cases overnight and weekends.



Kindergarten program / Pre-school / Kinder

A kindergarten program is an educational program that most children attend when they are approximately four years old, in the year prior to starting primary school. Some services and centres also offer Kindergarten programs for three-year-old children. Kindergarten programs are offered in various settings, including standalone kindergarten services (often known as sessional kindergartens), long day care centres, independent schools, and government schools.

A kindergarten program that is offered within a long day care centre follows standard long day care opening hours (at least 8 hours a day, 48 weeks a year). A kindergarten program that is offered in a stand-alone kindergarten service (sessional kindergarten) usually operates just during school terms and runs shorter sessions during the week.



Kindergarten Program / Preschool / Kinder (Approved)

An approved kindergarten program is a government-funded educational program delivered by a qualified early childhood teacher over the course of 15 hours a week for the year prior to school entry. Approved kindergarten programs are only available for four-year-olds. In order to attend an approved kindergarten program, your child must be at least four years old by a particular date, which differs for different states. The funding contributes to the running cost of an approved kindergarten program, which helps keep the fees as affordable as possible for families.



Long day care

Long day care services provide centre-based education and care programs for children aged 0 to 6 years old and are typically open for at least 8 hours a day, Monday to Friday. In long day care centres, children are typically separated into different rooms based on their age and stage of development. A majority of long day care centres offer full-time (Monday to Friday) or part-time (less than five days a week) care. Some centres also offer casual care. They usually charge by the day, and families need to commit to permanent bookings.



National Quality Framework (NQF)

The National Quality Framework is a framework developed by all Australian governments who have collaborated to provide better early education and developmental outcomes for young children. NQF comprises several documents, including the National Law and National Regulations, the National Quality Standard, an assessment and quality rating process, and national learning frameworks.



National Quality Ratings (NQR)

National Quality Ratings (NQR) refer to the overall ratings given to services after being assessed by their state or territory regulatory authority. Services are assessed on seven quality areas including educational program and practice, children’s health and safety, and physical environment.

The five possible ratings, from highest to the lowest, are:

  • Excellent rating
  • Exceeding National Quality Standard
  • Meeting National Quality Standard
  • Working Towards National Quality Standard, and
  • Significant Improvement Required



Occasional care / Creche

Occasional care, also known to some people as creche, is a type of care provided on a casual basis. They normally have flexible operating hours and allow parents to make bookings for shorter periods of time. Occasional care services usually charge an hourly rate and are mostly used by parents who don’t need childcare on a regular basis and only need care from time to time, like when they need to attend appointments.



Orientation

An orientation process is usually offered as part of enrolment to help your child adjust into childcare. Orientation process varies from centre to centre, but will typically involve a meet-and-greet with the educators and a few shorter visits (one to three hours per visit) before your child officially starts childcare. During orientation process, childcare centres normally require parents to either stay on the premises or remain close by.



Outside School Hours Care (OSHC)

Outside School Hours Care services offer education and care services for school-age children (including those in prep) outside of school hours, during school holidays and on student-free days. Some common types of Outside School Hours Care are Before School Care, After School Care, and Vacation Care. This service is commonly offered at primary schools or community-run centres.



Play-based learning

Play-based learning is an approach adopted by early education services, based on the belief that young children learn best through play. Play-based learning focuses on developing a child’s skills through their interests and strengths.



Qualified educator

A qualified educator refers to an educator who holds an approved Diploma-level education and care qualification or above.



Registered childcare

Registered childcare refers to care services provided by individuals (including relatives, friends, neighbours, nannies, and individuals in some childcare services) who have registered with the Department of Human Services as Registered Childcare Providers. Families who use registered childcare provided by registered childcare providers may be able to claim the Child Care Benefit.



Waitlist

A waitlist is a list maintained by childcare centres and kindergarten services consisting of the details of parents who wish to enrol their children in a centre but are unable to due to lack of availability. Some parents also register on a waitlist because they don’t need childcare yet, but want to plan ahead. Most childcare centres don’t charge a fee for parents to register on their waitlist.