Family day care vs long day care: Long Day Care vs Family Day Care: What Are The Key Differences?

Опубликовано: August 3, 2023 в 6:33 am


Категории: Miscellaneous

Long Day Care vs Family Day Care: What Are The Key Differences?

Finding the right day care for your child can be incredibly overwhelming, especially when there are a number of different services and settings on offer. 

Long day care and family day care are two types of early childhood education and care services that offer different learning experiences. While these services abide by National Quality Framework (NQF), both options offer unique benefits and different learning and care environments for your child.

 So, what makes these two types of education and care services and what sets them apart? Let’s explore.


What is long day care?

Long day care services offer all-day or part-time care for children from birth through to 12 years of age. Care is usually offered in a purpose-built facility like a childcare centre. 

Long day care services often offer extended hours, operating for 10-12 hours each day, five days a week, 52 weeks a year, excluding public holidays. The services offered by long day care centres must comply with legislative requirements regarding physical environment, staffing requirements, facilities and equipment. 

The benefits of long day care

Due to the structure and long hours offered by long day care centres, these services provide a number of benefits, particularly to working families that require greater flexibility when dropping off and picking up their children. 

Because long day care services tend to cater to children from birth through to 12, there’s a greater opportunity to send siblings to the same centre. Not only does this offer a convenient solution for busy parents with a single pick-up and drop-off location, but having an older sibling at the same day care can help younger siblings settle in. 

As long day care centres can accommodate a large number of children across a range of ages, they’re often split into groups based on age. This provides children with an opportunity to socialise with other kids of a similar age and develop friendships.  

Many long day care centres provide nutritious meals and snacks throughout the day, which can be an added convenience for busy working parents. Long day care services are also operated by professional childcare providers and all staff possess relevant qualifications and experience. 

Children attending long day care facilities may also be eligible for fee assistance courtesy of the Childcare Subsidy if the eligibility requirements are satisfied.

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What is family day care?

Family day care offers a natural approach to education and care, with early childhood professionals welcoming small groups of children into their own homes.  

Family day care educators must abide by strict educator-to-child ratios, which dictate one educator to a maximum of seven children with no more than four children under school age at a time. In order to gain registration as a family day care, educators must hold or be working towards Certificate III qualification and hold approved first aid qualifications including anaphylaxis management training and emergency asthma management training. 

It’s also worth noting that Government-approved family day care is still eligible for the Childcare Subsidy.

Benefits of family day care

As is the case with long day care, family day care settings also offer their own unique set of benefits that could better suit your child. 

Some parents find that the small group environment of family day care offers a more nurturing, flexible and natural home learning environment as compared to other childcare settings. Because of the smaller group sizes, children have the opportunity to establish closer bonds with their educators while benefitting from one-on-one attention. These small settings also allow educators to tailor learning programs to suit children’s individual needs while offering unique, diverse experiences in an enriching home learning environment. 

Although the hours of operation of family day care are dependent on the educator, they can often offer care during standard hours during the week as well as evenings, outside of school, during school holidays and even overnight or weekend care.

Five main differences between long day care and family day care

Although family and long day care services share a number of similarities and both must operate under the National Quality Framework (NQF), there are a number of differences that differentiate the two. Understanding the main differences between the two education and care environments can help you to choose the setting that will best suit and support your child.

Number of children: long day care can often cater for many more children than family day care. Because of the larger number of children in attendance, long day care centres often split the children into age groups. Family day care on the other hand can only accommodate a limited number of children who attend altogether.

Different care environments: long day care environments offer a large group setting whereas family day care provides a small group setting with greater opportunity for one-on-one attention. 

Learning programs: based on the size of the cohorts, long day care and family day care tend to offer different styles of learning programs. Family day care has the ability to provide individualised learning programs due to the small group sizes, whereas long day care settings offer an age-appropriate curriculum based on the age of the group.

Socialisation opportunities: long day care centres tend to offer more opportunities for children to socialise with kids of different ages and a number of educators. Children who attend family day care often form close bonds with their educators and fellow peers. 

Cost of care: family day care is often a more affordable option for families as it’s charged on a per-hour basis, whereas long day care is charged at a set cost for the day.

While family and long day care settings both offer high-quality early childhood education and care to your little one, there are a number of differences that could make one setting more suitable for your child. If you’re struggling to find childcare services near you, you can use the Care for Kids search and comparison tool to help you shortlist and connect with local childcare providers.

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Family Child Care vs Day Care Center

What can we help you find?



Have you ever wondered what type of care is right for your family? 


Do think that it would be better to go with a Family Child Care in someone’s home or a Day Care Center?

There are pro’s and con’s to each choice.  

With a Family Child Care Center, there are advantages.


More relaxed curriculum: Children may follow a curriculum, but there’s often more freedom for the family child care provider to change the schedule. Anderson says she and the children in her care often walk to the park to play on nice days.

Siblings can remain together: This is an important factor for many parents, especially those whose children are very close. Children are able to spend time with and play with children of all ages and may learn more from the older children.

More individual attention: Anderson says this is the primary reason some parents use an in-home center. “Children are often a face in the crowd in a day care center,” Anderson says. “In a family child care home, we really get to know each another well.”

Affordability: The cost of family child care may be cheaper than a day care center.

Fewer germs: Because there are fewer children, your child may be exposed to fewer illnesses.


Less regulation: Licensing of family child care programs varies state-by-state; double-check the rules in your state. If your area doesn’t regulate these programs, safety and health issues may be a concern — consider center care if you want a group experience.

Lack of back-up: Most in-home child care providers have a back-up plan in the event of illness. However, emergencies can happen. Stolov suggests you “find out what emergency plan the family child care home provider has in place, especially if there is no other adult in the home.”

Difference in philosophies, values and styles: Unlike a child care center with a well-spelled out philosophy, in-home providers are all individuals. You may find the provider’s philosophy isn’t in line with your family’s style.

Here’s a link with a bit more information about Family Child Care Centers

Now let’s move on to Day Care. 


Multiple child care providers: If one teacher is sick and unable to provide care, there are additional teachers who can fill in to ensure your child receives age-appropriate care. Parents aren’t left without a back-up plan for child care if their child attends a commercial child care center.

State inspected and licensed: Child care centers undergo licensing through the Department of Social Services. Centers must meet high standards for cleanliness and safety and comply with local building codes.

Children are well monitored: “You have more than one set of eyes watching your child,” Van Hall says of using a child care center. Many child care centers also have closed-circuit cameras, which are monitored by the center’s director throughout the day.

Quality teachers: The teachers in day cares may have a stronger education background and take on-going classes to fulfill skill requirements each year. Many states are even starting to mandate educational requirements for teachers.

Age-appropriate curriculum: Children in child care centers are often in age-based classrooms. During the day, children participate in circle time, learning activities, outdoor play, arts and crafts and activities to develop gross and fine motor skills. Kids also take naps and eat meals and snacks with their peers. With infants, each child’s unique schedule is followed to provide a home away from home.


Cost: Because day care centers are commercial properties, the overhead is higher than a private home. This generally makes the cost of a day care center higher than family child care, which is in someone’s home. (Though some may offer discounts for siblings.) Learn more about the Cost of Child Care.

Germs: There are multiple children to a class and multiple classes in a center, increasing the chance for illness. Even when using good hand-washing and sanitizing procedures, young children often touch their eyes, mouths and noses, spreading germs.

Do your children go to a Family Child Care or a Day Care?  Which would you prefer?

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How to access childcare subsidies in Australia

SBS Language

If you are studying or working and have young children in need of care, you can access subsidized childcare in Australia. Your eligibility and type of government support depend on your household income and whether you pass a special employment test.

Source: Naomi Shi/Pexels

Audio version can be heard here:

Australia’s Kindergartens and Affordable Grants (podcast)

Sarah Gardiner is a small business owner and mother of three (7 years, 4 years old and a baby of seven months).

In the past six years, she has been able to work full-time thanks to the various childcare assistance options available to her.

“Over the years, we’ve used everything from private nanny to au pair, family daycare, long-term daycare and ‘KU’s preschool’,” she says.


  • Australia’s childcare options include: Center Based Day Care, Family Day Care, Outside School Hours Care, In-Home Care and preschools. ).
  • The curriculum must be the same regardless of what type of kindergarten the child attends in the year before enrolling in school
  • The federal government subsidizes childcare costs based on family income and hours of work or school.

Childcare options

Parents in Australia can access a variety of childcare options based on their needs.

The first option is Center Based Day Care, which is basically a childcare facility approved by the regulators to provide quality early childhood care and education.

Most of these centers provide 10 to 12 hours of care per day.

Source: Natalie/Pexels

Another option is Family Day Care, which operates in the caregiver’s home. This means that you take your children to the caregiver’s home for care and early childhood education.

Outside School Hours Care is care for a child before or after school, usually from 6:30 am to 9:00 am and then from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm and during school holidays.

In areas where these services are not available, In-Home Care services may be provided where the caregiver looks after the child in the children’s home.

This option is suitable for families who are geographically isolated, work non-standard or variable hours, or have special needs.


It’s never too late to realize your childhood dream

Preschools are government-approved services that provide early childhood education and care for children ages 3 to 6.

“They’re usually more structured and work fewer hours a day. They’re called various things – sometimes ‘kinder’, sometimes ‘preschool’, and that’s where kids get into a slightly more structured environment,” says Dr. Baxter, deputy director of preschool and childcare at the Department of Education.

She says that the Commonwealth government and the states and territories provide financial support for this type of care.

Source: Getty Images/Lyn Walkerden Photography

When can a child be enrolled?

According to Ms. Baxter, the age at which children can be enrolled and the age at which they graduate from certain types of care (excluding preschools) depends on each family’s situation and needs.

Ms. Gardiner says she was lucky to find a good family day care center when her children were very young.

“I went back to work with my first when he was 8 months old and my second when she was 8 weeks old, so I needed a provider who would take care of children under two years old. And the area where I live does not have any full-time care facilities for that age,” she says.

“It seemed to me that a family kindergarten would be better for such a child, because there are three other children in care at the same time, and they are all about the same age.”

She says that the only drawback of the family kindergarten is that if the teacher or his/her children are not well or they want to go on vacation, the family kindergarten is closed.

Ready for school

Ms. Gardiner sent her two oldest children to regular kindergarten when they were two years old.

“They supported the kids from this age on to develop their social skills and self-confidence when interacting with other children. It also helped me a lot that I could drop the kids off early and pick them up late,” she says.

But when her kids were three and a half years old, she sent them to a preschool. attention is being paid to teaching children to take responsibility, to develop independence and the skills that I think are necessary for successful integration in the school environment,” says Ms. Gardiner.

Source: Pexels/Pixabay

“They have specific days for different activities, they have library days for example, they are expected to put away their own lunch boxes and take on an extra level of responsibility higher than what they were required to do in kindergarten.”


Australia’s superannuation system explained

Dr Baxter says that in Australia children should be given the same curriculum no matter what type of kindergarten they spend their last year before school.

“The slight difference may be that your child may be in the garden for 10 or 12 hours a day, and only part of that day is attended to by the pre-school curriculum,” she says.

The curriculum for the Kindergarten Year is 600 hours per year, equivalent to two 7.5-hour days per week.

Payments and subsidies for childcare

Ms. Gardiner says that preschool year fees were significantly less than kindergarten fees.

Dr. Baxter explains that preschools can sometimes be cheaper than preschools because state and Commonwealth governments subsidize a year of preschool.

“In addition, children can spend the whole day in kindergarten. You pay not only for school preparation services, but also pay for care for 10 or 12 hours, and in some cases, this is also payment for food and other necessary things.”


Helping with your child’s home-based learning

She says nursery schools, pre-school and after-school care centers, child home care, family day care centers and pre-school facilities are funded by the Commonwealth government.

For preschools, the Commonwealth government provides funding to the states, which is transferred to those institutions in the state.

Source: cottonbro/Pexels

For preschools, family daycares, and afterschool care centers, the federal government provides a subsidy to families based on their income and passing an employment test that assesses hours of work, school, training, and some volunteer work and other forms of employment.

For example, if you earn less than $70,000 a year, you will receive the maximum subsidy amount, which is 85%. If you are on the other side of the income scale and earn a lot, then your government subsidy may be as low as 30%.

“A care facility might charge, say, $10 an hour, which could be an average hourly rate, and how much subsidy you get from the government to help you cover costs depends on your family’s income,” explains Dr. Baxter.

Ms. Gardiner recommends that your child be placed on the waiting list as early as possible, as some care centers and preschools extend waiting lists for up to two years.

Source: Helena Lopes/Pexels

To be eligible for a childcare subsidy, a parent or their partner must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident, or have a special category visa (

Special Category visa

) or some type of temporary visa, such as a partner visa (

Partner Provisional

) or Temporary Protection visa (

Temporary Protection visa


Parents may also qualify if they or their partners are Australian Government sponsored international students to study in Australia.

More information is available here.

Published 20 August 2021 11:31am

Updated 23 August 2021 8:50am

By Chiara Pazzano

Presented by Svetlana Printcev

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