Early childhood education and care service options
There are many forms of early childhood education and care in Queensland with regulatory standards in place for most service types, to ensure quality and safety for children. Services individually set their operating hours and can provide different programs. To find what services are offered near you, search by your postcode here.
Find out more about regulated services offered across Queensland below.
Long day care (from birth)
Long day care provides education and care for children from birth for 10 hours a day, from Monday to Friday (for at least 48 weeks of the year). Some services offer a limited age range, or operate on different days of the week.
Long day care services may provide full or part-time care, before and after school care and vacation care. Children are often grouped together according to their age or developmental stage to maximise learning outcomes.
Long day care is eligible for Australian Government childcare subsidies. Each service has their own fee structure, you can contact your local service to find out more.
Long day care services must comply with a range of legislative requirements, including physical space and educator-to-child ratios. An approved kindergarten program may be offered by long day care services.
Outside of school hours care (OSHC) – school-aged children
OSCH services provide before and after school care, generally from 7-9am and 3-6pm, as well as for 10-12 hours a day during school holidays and pupil free days for school age children (including those in Prep).
This service can be delivered in a variety of locations including schools, youth centres and community centres, and provides the opportunity for children to relax and play in a supervised environment.
OSHC services must comply with a range of legislative requirements, including physical space and educator-to-child ratios.
Each service has their own fees and operating hours, contact your local service to find out more.
Family day care – from birth to 12 years
Family day care offers flexible education and care for children in the private homes of registered carers for children from birth. Family day care may be available for a full day, part day, overnight or weekends.
These services must comply with a range of legislative requirements and educators are monitored and supported by a family day care scheme coordination unit.
Each service has their own fees and operating hours, contact your local service to find out more. Take a look into a quality family day care service here.
Occasional care services – under 5 years
Occasional care services provide education and care to children on a casual or adhoc basis. The service is usually managed by the community or local government, and does not usually offer full-time or all day education and care to children on an ongoing basis.
Programs must be offered by staff that hold relevant qualifications specified by Queensland law.
An approved kindy program may be offered by occasional care service.
Limited hours care – under 5y ears
Limited hours care provides short periods of care for children from birth to school age, on a casual basis (for example, if a parent needs to attend an appointment).
The service is usually managed by the community or local government and is available for around 20 hours a week. Services will have their own hours and fee structures, talk to your local service for more information.
Programs must be offered by staff that hold relevant qualifications specified by Queensland law. An approved kindy program may be offered by a limited hours care provider.
Short-term care and kids’ clubs
Places like shopping centres and gyms often offer care for short periods of time, usually up to three hours, while the parent or caregiver stays on the premises.
This type of care does not require any formal approvals to operate.
Vacation care is a service run by community organisations, offering programs from part-day to full-day care, including excursions.
Programs that run for more than four weeks a year (or are part of an outside school hours care program) are approved and must comply with the National Quality Framework.
Standalone care is a regulated service provided in a home, hall or church. Standalone care services are not required to hold an approval to operate, but must meet Queensland law requirements. Carers must be over 18 years of age and can provide care for up to six children from birth to 12 years of age.
Enrolling in a service
Some services allow children to enrol at any time, others have a waiting list, plan ahead and start thinking early about a service that’s right for your family.
To enrol, you may be asked to provide:
- proof of date of birth; birth-certificate or visa
- your child’s full name, gender and address
- details about the child’s parents, carers or guardians
- details of any court orders, parenting orders or parenting plans
- details of any special considerations; for example, cultural or religious considerations, dietary requirements, or additional needs
- details of your child’s cultural background, language spoken at home
- health and immunisation status
- details of the people allowed to pick up your child and who to notify in an emergency.
If you have any difficulties providing this information, discuss this with your local service.
Most early childhood education and care services must comply with a range of legislative requirements, including educator-to-child ratios and physical environment. Learn more about the National Quality Standards here, and the Queensland Education and Care Services Act (2013) here.
Find out more about choosing a service that suits your family at the Starting Blocks website.