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Occasional care – how do I find it and is it safe for my toddler?

June 10, 2020

For parents in Australia there are so many options for child care, including long day care, Family Day Care, pre-school and more. But one option that some families may not know about is occasional care (OC).

What is occasional care?

This is flexible care for babies and up to 5 years old. It is care that is ad hoc, used as needed, and may be as short as one hour or up to a whole day. You only pay for the hours that you use at the centre. 

Who would use occasional care?

Occasional care is perfect for:

  • A shift worker or seasonal worker with changing hours
  • Parents that work from home that need to attend a meeting or go on-site
  • Allowing parents time to run errands or attend appointments
  • Giving parents a sanity break when they need one
  • A parent who has to take the day off work due to illness
  • Care required in an emergency or at short notice
  • A parent that needs to travel for work
  • A parent that needs time to study for exams or prepare for a big presentation
  • Those days you need care and your regular child care centre doesn’t have availability for you 
  • Getting children used to child care before they transfer to regular hours at a child care centre
  • The government also uses OC as needed for foster children or those in domestic violence situations

Is occasional care right for me?

OC centres are non-profit, are licensed and operate under the same early years learning framework as a child care centre. They’ve just adapted their business model to suit the changing needs of parents.

The experienced staff are used to meeting and settling new children, so OC can be great for kids with separation anxiety.

How do I find occasional care?

When you’re searching on the Toddle site, you’ll notice that some centres have ‘occasional care’ in their title. You can check the availability online, as well as costs and location.

Some regular child care centres also offer OC when they have availability. Feel free to ask your local centre if this is an option for you.

One family’s experience with occasional care

‘When my son was born I was working as a high school maths tutor,’ explains Steph. 

‘When I was ready to return to work I knew that I would need care for a few hours on some afternoons, and that this could change week to week.

For me, occasional care was perfect. I could book in week to week as I needed it, often just using OC for an hour or two some afternoons. During the school holidays I didn’t need to use it at all.

I loved the flexibility it afforded me, and I also didn’t lose out financially as I only had to pay for the hours that I used.’

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Written by

Lee Price

Toddle is the most comprehensive child care finder in Australia, on a mission to make parents’ lives easier.


toddle.com.au