Single Parents and Child Care

Published on Monday, 05 December 2016
Last updated on Wednesday, 04 December 2019

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Single parent families face many of the challenges of couple families but additional issues are common such as increased financial pressure, time constraints and increased stress, anxiety and guilt surrounding parenting.

Following separation most newly single parents have no choice to stay at home as they assume the role of breadwinner. For parents already back at work and using care this may be less of a challenge than for parents who haven't yet returned to work.

The key requirement for many single parent families looking for care is flexibility.

Education and care centres are a great option if your work hours are fairly predictable and you can guarantee that you'll be able to pick up and drop off within the designated hours.

However, if you work shifts or have an unpredictable schedule you may need to consider a more flexible type of care such as those described below.

Home based care offers early childhood education and care for your child in a provider's home. It is often slightly cheaper and more family focused than child care centres. Because care is offered in the carer's home there is often a high degree of flexibility with some providers offering extended hours, over night and even weekend care.

Nannies or babysitters offer flexible care which could be used in combination with child care centres or home based care to fill in the gaps around operating hours. However, this can be expensive, especially when used casually.

Au pairs are a great option if you have space to accommodate them. It's important to remember that au pairs are not formally trained and should not be left in sole charge of babies under 12 months old. Because they live in, au pairs can be a huge help with out of hours activities such as shopping, dentist appointments as well as giving you an affordable social life and a better means of juggling more than one child's extracurricular activities.

Nanny share a more affordable way to have a nanny is nanny share.

  • Ask friends, neighbours and parents in local playgroups if they are interested in sharing a nanny.
  • Ask other parents at your workplace about nanny sharing. At some workplaces, there may be resources to help you find child care, including nanny sharing.
  • Use our nanny search to find a nanny in your local area or contact an agency who provides nanny sharing services.

If you decide to DIY ensure you vet the nannies for qualifications, references and police checks.

Parent sharing is great for after school and child care pick-ups. If you only work part time or can be more flexible on some days than others, it's worth investigating other parents in your child care centre, pre-school or school, who either work part time themselves or also have flexibility. If you can work out your days across the week, so that all kids are covered for early pick-ups between you, it can be a very sociable, cheap and rewarding way to make sure you have general and emergency child care covered.

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