Childcare is a service that benefits everyone - for parents, it provides safe care for their precious children so that they can work or take a break, and for children, childcare becomes a much-loved place to learn from trusted carers, socialise, and develop crucial life skills, all while having plenty of fun. Because of these undeniable benefits, childcare is an option that parents are increasingly drawn to, with usually only one question arising: how much does childcare cost?
The answer to this question is complicated because child care prices vary according to location, family circumstances, eligibility for government financial assistance, and individual childcare costs. So, to make things simpler, this article will provide a brief overview of the cost of childcare in Australia and the government childcare subsidy, so that you will be informed when you research options and make decisions for your family.
Childcare costs in Australia
Because childcare cost isn’t regulated by the Australian government, childcare cost will vary between states and individual organisations. However, data from the most recent survey on Childhood Education and Care (2017) from the Australian Bureau of Statistics can provide an overview of costs in Australia.
The data shows that after childcare subsidies, the mean cost for families usually using formal care in 2017 was $110.50 per week, with the mean number of hours of childcare used per week being 16 hours. The data shows that long day care (childcare centres) is the most commonly used type of formal childcare followed by after-school hours care, while the most used type of informal childcare is Grandparents providing care.
We used data from the Early Childhood and Childcare in Summary provided by the Department of Education to create the table below, which shows the average cost per day of formal childcare before government subsidies.
|Long day care (child care centre)
|$70-$188 per day
|$45-$80 per day
|Family day care
|$7.50-$16.80 per hour dependent on location and service
|Outside of School Hours Care
$15-$30 per morning session
$25-$45 per afternoon session
Childcare costs differ in states and territories across Australia, and so we’ve broken these national averages down into the average cost of childcare in each capital city to give you a better understanding of what childcare might cost near you.
Childcare cost in Melbourne
The city of Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, has approximately 20 childcare centres- on average they rate ‘meeting’ the National Quality Standard (NQS), and sit above the national NQS Rating. The average childcare cost in Melbourne is $149 per day for baby (0-12 months) and toddler (13-24 months) childcare, and the same for kindergarten (2-3 years) at $149 per day.
Childcare cost in Sydney
Sydney, the capital city of New South Wales, covers a large area with approximately 35 child care centres. In Sydney, the average cost of childcare is $167 per day for baby and toddler childcare, and $166 per day for kindergarten. Sydney sits just above the national NSQ Rating, with the highest percentage of Sydney childcare centres rated ‘meeting’ the NQS.
Childcare cost in Perth
There are approximately 8 childcare centres in Perth, the capital city of Western Australia. The childcare centres in Perth sit above the national NQS Rating, and on average rate ‘meeting’ the NQS. The average cost per day for baby and toddler childcare in Perth is $149, while slightly lower for kindergarten at $147 per day.
Childcare cost in Brisbane
Brisbane is the capital city of Queensland, and because Greater Brisbane encompasses a wide area (making it the largest capital city in Australia by geographic area), there are approximately 1,433 childcare centres across the suburbs. The average cost per day is $107 for baby childcare, $106 for toddler childcare, and $105 for kindergarten. Brisbane childcare centres sit just below the national NQS Rating, with centres on average ‘meeting’ the NQS.
Childcare cost in Canberra
Canberra, the capital city of Australia, covers a large area of suburbs and has approximately 367 childcare centres. Canberra sits above the national NQS Rating, with the majority of centres rated as ‘exceeding’ the NQS. Baby and toddler childcare costs $125 per day, and kindergarten costs $124 per day.
Childcare cost in Darwin
There are 125 childcare centres in Darwin, the capital city of the Northern Territory, that collectively sit below the national NQS Rating – however the highest percentage of childcare centres rate ‘meeting’ the NQS. The average cost per day for baby and toddler childcare is $104, and for kindergarten, the average cost per day is $101.
Childcare cost in Adelaide
In Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia, there are approximately 22 childcare centres. The average cost per day for baby childcare and kindergarten is $112, while for toddlers the average cost per day is $113. Adelaide falls just below the national NQS Rating. However, the greatest percentage of centres are rated as ‘exceeding’ the NQS.
Childcare cost in Hobart
Hobart, the capital city of Tasmania, has approximately 11 childcare centres which collectively fall below the national NQS rating, and the greatest percentage of these centres score ‘working towards’ the NQS. The average cost per day for baby childcare is $95 per day, for toddler childcare $92 per day and for kindergarten $93 per day.
Estimating childcare cost
These childcare costs across Australia are calculated before the childcare subsidy, so it’s worth finding out how much you’ll be out of pocket following the government subsidies you might be entitled to. According to Services Australia, to be eligible for the Australian Child Care Subsidy you must meet the following criteria:
- Care for a child 13 years or younger who does not attend secondary school
- Use an approved childcare centre (those registered with Toddle are all approved childcare centres)
- You are responsible for paying childcare fees
- You meet residency and immunisation requirements (you can find details on these requirements via the Australian government website)
The amount you receive each fortnight applies to each child in your care and is subject to your family’s income, your child’s age, the type of approved childcare you use, their hourly rate cap, and the hours of activity you and your partner undertake. The maximum government subsidy is 85% of childcare fees, which is available to families who earn $70,015 and under, and the subsidy percentage falls in accordance with increasing income until you are no longer eligible if you earn $354,305 and over.
To form an understanding of what you might be eligible for, we recommend using the Toddle childcare subsidy calculator, a quick and easy childcare cost estimator. If you think that you are eligible to receive the Child Care Subsidy, the easiest way to lodge a claim is online, via the official government website which will take you through the claim step by step.
Now that you’ve got an understanding of childcare costs and the childcare subsidy, you can get started finding the right childcare that meets your family's requirements and budget. To do this you can search Toddle – the largest childcare database- for approved childcare centres near you.
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