Child Care

Having a child with special needs doesn’t have to limit your child care options. You can hire someone directly (babysitter, au pair, nanny) or through an agency. Otherwise you can access regular children’s Day Care Centres. Special needs hospices such as Lady Lawleys Cottage By The Sea, in Cottesloe WA can be accessed for casual day care, planned day care or planned overnight stays. Respite providers may also offer in-home day care.

Currently many WA Day Care Centres have long wait lists so if this is the option you are interested in (even if you’re not ready now); we suggest you put your child’s name down early.

We suggest having a vision statement for your child, a a carer information booklet (on your child’s needs, communication, feeding, positioning, bathing, toileting, play activities, favourite games and toys) and to have a daily activity planner to help your chosen carer provide the best care possible for your child. Spend time with your child and chosen carer (or Day Centre) so that you are confident your child’s needs are being met.

If you are privately employing an in-home carer, it’s important to check they have a police clearance certificate and ask if they hold a current working with children check clearance. Click here for interview questions and an employment contract template.

In crisis situations Commonwealth Carelink, Wanslea WA or the Red Cross can provide carers for special needs children and fund these.

Whilst you are looking for the child care option that best meets you and your child’s needs, you may want to consider hiring domestic assistance to aid with duties such as cooking, cleaning, shopping to lighten your load. Thus giving you more time with your children and to look after yourself! Your Local Area Coordinator would be a great person to ask about this.

Organisations & Contacts

Call the Australian Government’s Child Care Access Hotline for information on childcare options, vacancies in your area, government & financial assistance on 1800 670 305 between 8am to 9pm eastern standard time. A Translator Information Service is also available. A TTY Service is available on 1800 639 327 for people with a hearing and/or speech impairment.

Care for Kids Online resource with information and tips on available child care options, costs, locations

Centrelink for information on tax rebates, financial assistance, carer payment and allowance

Commonwealth Carelink for crisis care support and respite assistance

Child Care Benefit information on child care benefit

Child Care Tax Rebate

HACC funding Funding available for in-home respite services for full-time carers of people with special needs

Carers WA Information and resources on respite, hiring or choosing child care workers/centers for your child with special needs

Playgroup Australia can help you find local playgroups Australia wide

Child Care Options

Comparing Child Care Options – Click here to view a table of the pros & cons of each, so that you can choose the child care the best meets your child’s and your needs

Home-based Help

Provide supervisory/custodial care on an irregular, part-time or an as-needs basis. You can find a babysitter by advertising in your local or state newspaper or posting an ad on university or community notice boards. If your child has high needs you may also wish to approach the physio, OT or speech pathology departments to post the position to students of these modalities.

Cost? This can be negotiated but is generally between $10-25 hour (plus agency fee if agency is used)

Generally has little or no previous experience of caring for children. They generally have career aspirations in the field of child care and this is one way of gaining experience whilst undertaking formal study. A mother’s help will assist the parent(s) with child care and housekeeping duties. These duties should be carried out under the supervision of the parent.

Cost? $10 per hr live-in, $16 per hr live out (plus agency fee if agency used)

Nannies and other home-based child carers are employed by you to provide care for children, usually in your home. They will fit in with unusual working hours, and work part time or even live in. Some may agree to do additional jobs around the house (cooking, tidying etc.).

Shared nannies work for you and another family.

Most nannies and some other home-based child carers have a recognised child care qualification or nursery nurse training, but this isn’t compulsory. You can find a nanny by advertising in your local or state newspaper or posting an ad on university or community notice boards. If your child has high needs you may also wish to approach the physio, OT or speech pathology departments to post the position to students of these modalities.

Cost? $10-25 per hour live-in, $14-35 per hr live out (plus agency fee if agency is used)

Foreign national in Australia for cultural exchange purposes for up to a period of one year.

Au Pair are like live in nannies and may perform child care duties and domestic duties in exchange for a small wage and board. They may or may not have child caring experience.

Cost? Negotiable (board, meals + small living allowance of $80-$120)


Child Care and Out of Home Help

  • A Day Care centre provides care and education for children between the ages of 6wks and 5yrs. (Many also offer out of school care for 5-11yr olds.)
  • Day Care Centres can be operated by the council, community organisations, workplace or private enterprises.
  • Opening times are from around 7am to 7pm (hours vary but many nurseries may start before 8am), 50 weeks of the year. You can send your child full or part time.
  • Your child should experience learning and development activities suitable for their age and all child care centres are required to accommodate special needs children. The Resource Unit for Children with Special Needs (Child Australia (formerly RUCSN)) may fund specialised equipment (for children with high needs) to ensure your child can participate in all the centre’s planned activities.
  • Children will be grouped together by age and looked after by carers according to specified staff/children ratios to help ensure your child gets the attention they need. Child Australiamay fund a child care aid for children with high needs.
  • Day Care centre staff have child care qualifications. If your child has high needs Child Australiamay provide a child care aid.
  • Tip: It’s important to look at what child care options are available, visit the Centre and discuss your child’s needs with the manager of the Centre. Once you have decided, complete an application for enrolment. Many good Day Care Centres in Perth have long waiting lists.

WHAT WILL IT COST ME?

1/2 Day, Full Day $55-$105 per day

Child Care rebates available

Is Child Care Centre Right for me?

  • I feel happy leaving my child in a place where there are qualified staff
  • I need somewhere open virtually all year
  • My hours fit in with their opening times
  • I need to know that there will always be someone to look after my child – if one carer is sick, another can cover
  • I have emergency backup – ill children can’t attend day nursery
  • I want my child to be around plenty of other children and involved in lots of activities
  • I want my child to have access to different toys, equipment and stimulation
  • I think my child is ready for new experiences
A safe, home environment with consistent care. Most carers have had children of their own and care for a small group of children of varying ages. This care can be arranged to fit in to your schedule. Carers may not have formal qualifications and if your child has high needs, you may need to provide specialised equipment and training.

Cost? $4.50-$7.50 per hour dependent on geographical location and service

Provide transport to and from school and a supervised environment with consistent care. These carers may or may not have formal child care training so you may need to educate carer in your child’s needs. Hours can be negotiated. If your child has high needs you may need to provide specialised equipment.

Cost? $15-$20 per day

Pre-school is a planned educational program for children in the years before a child commences school. Children are usually aged between 3 and 5 years of age. Pre-school may take place in a range of settings including a purpose built building, in a community setting, a school, as part of a long day care centre or a mobile or visiting service.

Pre-school generally runs between the hours of 9:00am and 3:00pm similar to school hours although this may vary by state and by service so check with the provider.

Cost? $32-$40 per day

Questions to Ask Your Nanny, Respite Worker or Home-Based Carer

  • What qualifications or training do you have?
  • Are you a registered child care provider?
  • What kind of experience do you have?
  • Why do you enjoy the job?
  • Why do you want this particular job?
  • How would you organise my child’s day? And help them achieve developmental goals?
  • Will you keep a food and day diary?
  • Where would you take my child out?
  • How do you feel about early starts/late finishes?
  • Can you babysit in the evenings?
  • What’s your policy on potty training, feeding, teaching right from wrong?

If living in:

  • How will you spend your days off? You should be clear about friends or partners staying over, issues like smoking and use of telephone.

Questions to Ask Your Child Care Centre or Out of Home Carer

  • What is the ratio of carers to children? Remember the rules: for under twos, it’s three children per carer; for two-year-olds, four children per carer and older children, eight children per carer.
  • Will the learning aid be assigned to my child?
  • What is the daily routine?
  • Where will my child eat/play/nap?
  • Will my child be able to play outdoors every day?
  • Ask a member of staff to walk you round, room by room.
  • Is it clean, light and big enough?
  • Is there a safe and secure outdoor play area?
  • Are the children well supervised?
  • Do they look happy and purposeful?
  • Is there a lot going on?
  • Look for projects and drawings up on the walls. What about stimulating toys and books on show?
  • Will your child be taken off the premises? Ask for examples of where.
  • Are nutritious meals provided?
  • Will you keep a daily record of what they’ve done?
  • Do you offer school pick-ups and out of school care? Some centres will do this.
  • Are there penalties if you’re late to pick up your child?
  • Are the security arrangements satisfactory?


Also remember…

Be certain the day care centre has places for your child’s age group. Some don’t take children under two.

Find out whether the day care centre operates a key carer system – whereby each child is assigned to a particular member of staff.
Go back for a second ‘viewing’. Do this at a different time of day to your first visit. Take your child with you to see how they get on with other children, staff and in the surroundings.

Talk to other parents who use the nursery – ask their views on the provision.

For more info…

Contact your local Children’s Information Service by calling 1800 670 305 for a list of local day care options

Child Australia for inclusion support and funding of specialised equipment provision and child care aid or child care aid (Child Australia)

Centrelink for child care rebate and financial assistance information

Click here for other useful child care contacts