Parents, regardless of work status, financial position, or belief system, has to decide on how to provide early education to their children. In households where a single parent has to work, or both parents work, that decision has to include care outside of the home. Even stay-at-home parents have to decide if socialization with other children will benefit the child, and therefore need to choose an outside care provider for a certain number of hours. Family day care centers vary in cost, staff training, and approaches to care, so the decision can be a difficult one.
Since early childhood education includes children up to the age of five or six, kindergarten classes have to be part of that decision. Should the child go to public school for kindergarten, should a private school be considered, or are there alternatives, are just a few questions for which parents must seek answers. Mission Australia Early Learning can help provide some direction. The centers, which are located all over the continent, are non-profit, and provide long day early learning centre, after school care, and kindergarten classes.
The approach for care is based on four major components that lead to happy and healthy children, who are instilled with the love of learning, and are encouraged to reach their full potential. Centers also strive to support parents, and build strong communities. The major components are nutrition, education, community and environment. Steps and models have been developed to meet the needs of children in each component. For nutrition, all food is selected to meet the needs and ages of the children. National nutrition guidelines are followed, as are any medical, cultural, or religion needs of an enrolled child.
The education model was developed by experienced professionals in the field of early childhood education. The model has received national recognition, and is conducive to natural creativity and curiosity of children in all age groups. A natural environment for playing in the sunshine, weather permitting, includes save equipment and activities that take place among trees, grass, and flowers. The needs of the community are considered, and each center is fully integrated into local areas. Children are taught the history of the area, and visit local sites of interest.
Fees for care are kept as low as possible, and staff are knowledgeable about government programs that provide financial assistance for family day care. Parents are informed about programs and told how to apply. Some programs, like the Child Care Benefit, is based on income, and paid directly to education and care services. That benefit can be claimed right at each center to reduce out-of-pocket expenses. The Child Care Rebate is not based on income, so every family can participate in that program. Jobs, Education, and Training (JET) child care fee assistance program has eligibility requirements, but parents can get information from staff.