Cost of Family Day Care vs. Other Childcare Options

Cost of Family Day Care vs. Other Childcare Options

Family day care offers a warm, home-like environment where children from birth to 12 years are cared for in the homes of qualified educators. With a maximum capacity of seven children, including only four under school age, family day care allows for personalised attention for each child.

But what about family day care costs? How are fees charged, and what are the costs of family day care vs long day care, hiring a nanny, or other child care options in Australia?

We’ll take you through the various options and childcare costs in Australia, and point you to a handy childcare cost calculator to find out how much of a Child Care Subsidy Rebate (CSS) you’ll be entitled to.

How is the Cost of Family Day Care Calculated

Family Day care is provided by individual educators, who set their own hourly rate. You can expect the hourly rate to be approximately $10-$16 per hour for regular bookings, and up to around $20 per hour for casual bookings.

Some family day care providers offer early morning, late night and overnight care, and the rates for these times may be higher. You should also check with individual providers whether meals are included, or whether they need to be provided or paid for, along with extras such as nappies or transport. 

Family day care costs can be subsidised under the Australian Federal Government’s Child Care Subsidy (CCS) scheme, if care is provided by an ‘approved provider’. The CCS pays a rebate of up to 90% of your childcare fees, depending upon your household income, how many children are in care, and  the type of childcare you are using. 

To be eligible for CCS rebates, you’ll need to be undertaking an approved activity – such as work, study or volunteering – or have an exemption. You can find out how much of a CCS rebate you may be entitled to using this Child Care Subsidy Calculator.

Options for Single Parents

Working single parents often seek childcare that extends beyond the standard workday. Family day care can often provide before and after-hours care, with some educators also offering overnight stays. 

Long day care centres also offer early starts and later finishes. For some families, having a live-in au pair is a feasible option when additional help is needed with things like kinder drop offs or light housework.

Occasional Care Centres can also be useful for single parents who need a few hours of childcare here and there for respite, to attend appointments, or to work part-time.

Options for Low-Income Families

Family day care can be an affordable option for low-income families, as it is charged by the hour and you are only paying for hours used. This is different to long day care centres who often charge for the day, irrespective of how many hours are used. 

With any type of childcare, choosing a provider that is approved for the Child Care Subsidy rebate can significantly reduce the cost of childcare per day. The CCS is calculated on a sliding scale based on family income, with the lowest income families receiving rebates of up to 90% of childcare costs. 

Benefits of Family Day Care

Family day care offers a number of benefits, making it a positive choice for many families. 

  • Small Group Sizes: Allowing for focused attention and personalised care, which can be particularly good for children who do not thrive in larger group settings.
  • Flexibility: Ability to negotiate hours, meals and meeting your child’s needs, directly with the educator.
  • Comforting Atmosphere: Home-like setting that feels more like an extended family group, that helps children feel at ease and bond with one consistent carer.
  • Enhanced Social Interaction: Opportunity for children to engage with a diverse age group, boosting social skills and confidence.
  • Secure Environment: Providers must adhere to government standards and regulations, ensuring a safe and developmentally appropriate care environment.

Nannies and Au Pairs

Nannies provide care within the family home, either living separately or in the house. Many nannies have childcare qualifications and typically charge an hourly rate of around $30-$50. 

Au Pairs live in the family home and provide in-home childcare, sometimes also light housework, in exchange for board and a small allowance. Au Pairs are often young people visiting from overseas, and are entitled to the minimum wage ($23.23 per hour) minus board. 

Hiring a nanny or Au Pair allows for children to be cared for within their own home, and for strong bonds to form between carers and children.

Long Day Care

Long day care centres (often called ‘Early Learning Centres’ or ‘ELCs’) offer full or part-time care for up to 10-12 hours each day for children from 0-12 years. ELCs are often purpose-built, offering indoor and outdoor play areas, and can accommodate large numbers of children.  

Long day care centres will typically charge by the day, and the fee usually includes meals and incidentals like nappies. Costs generally fall in the range of $100-$190 per day.

In-Home Care

The In Home Care (IHC) program offers eligible families flexible childcare when parents are unable to access other forms of childcare due to geographical isolation, unusual work hours or complex needs. Families must be eligible for the Child Care Subsidy and be able to demonstrate that no other childcare is available or suitable, and applications are made via the state or territory IHC Support Agency.

In-home care charges vary, but you can expect to pay $30 per hour upwards, before the CCS rebate.


Babysitters can be employed on a regular or casual basis, either directly or through an agency. They may not have relevant childcare qualifications and may fit in their babysitting hours around other work or study. 

Babysitters can offer a flexible service and typically charge around $25-$35 per hour.

Finding the Right Childcare Option for Your Family

The right childcare option is a very individual thing, dependent upon the needs of both your child and your family. You will want to consider the following:

  • Your Child’s Needs:. Some children thrive in structured daycare centers and larger social groups, while others find this overwhelming and do better with in-home or smaller group care.
  • Flexibile Scheduling: Parents may require irregular or after-hours care to fit around work and other commitments. Family day care or in-home care options often provide more adaptable hours.
  • Caregiver Qualifications and Experience: These should be considered, along with carers showing  a genuine passion for working with children. 
  • Location: Choosing a childcare option that fits smoothly into your daily routine is more convenient for parents, and can reduce the time children spend away from home.
  • Cost of Childcare: Affordability is a significant consideration, and is affected by the overall rate, whether you are charged by the hour or per day, and whether a Child Care Subsidy rebate is available.  

Finally, trust your instincts. Visit different childcare settings, including family day care and other options, observe interactions, and ask questions to ensure you feel comfortable with your choice. Carefully considering these factors will help you find the best childcare option to support your child’s development and your family’s needs.

Take a Tour with the Green Elephant

Curious to know what a purpose-built Early Learning Centre can offer your child? 

Come visit The Green Elephant, a family owned childcare service offering beautiful learning environments that feel like a home away from home. Our childcare centres operate in and around Sydney in Rosebury, Beaconsfield, Horsley Park and Waterloo, NSW.