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4 Options for Childcare for Less Than Ideal Circumstances

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Getting the right childcare option can be very tricky, because you have to create a balance between the care option, cost, quality of care, location, work hours and your child's unique needs.

Sometimes this gets more complicated when the parents have non-ideal circumstances. This includes parents working non-standard job hours and parents needing to be away, e.g. short business trips among other unique circumstances. Nonetheless, with a little creativity, you can create a system that works well for your family's needs.

Below are some care options that you can explore to help you along:

1. Babysitters

Babysitters cost almost as much as nannies, but you have the advantage of more flexibility especially for out-of-hours care. The advantage is that children can be cared for in a familiar environment and so your regular schedule can still be enforced. Once you find a babysitter who meshes well with your children and schedule, you can talk to them about a more affordable, long-term pay-rate to reduce your burden.

2. Family/home care

As the name suggests, family day cares are set up within someone's home, usually a parent with the space and equipment to take care of more children than they have. They usually hire day helpers to assist as there are regulations dictating the number of children one caregiver can handle.

Family day cares also have the advantage of being flexible for parents with non-standard job hours such as those in shift jobs or jobs with long hours. In addition, once the child is accustomed to the environment, they can be left at such centres for a night or two when the parent must be away on business.

3. Long day cares

More and more regular day-care centres are offering extended hour care, although many still don't offer overnight care. If you work long hours, your regular day-care centre may have provision for additional hours as well as weekend care. As you research different options, check for listings with the moon icon, as this indicates they have extended hours service.

If your current care facility doesn't have long hours, don't be afraid to ask why. Maybe they need a minimum number of children to make the program viable, and you can help by talking to your co-workers and other parents in similar job situations so you can pool together to get the numbers.

4. In-home care

In-home care is a special government-funded program that allows families with special situations to access affordable childcare in their homes. The services are subsidised but they are only accessible to families that meet the criteria. If you're in a shift-hour job, have a disabled or chronically ill parent or child, have three or more children below school-age or you live or work in remote/rural Australia, you may qualify for in-home care. Talk to the nearest office of Human Services for guidance.