Our preschool programs will help your children develop vital social, mental and physical skills before they start school.
There is a range of early learning options for children aged between six weeks and six years old:
Private and community-based care
Private and community-based centres are run by qualified staff and are usually open Monday to Friday from around 7am to 6pm. All centres must be licensed and are carefully regulated in Victoria, with strict rules on:
- running and maintaining centres
- the quality of care and food provided
- the number of children in attendance.
You will need to arrange enrolment directly with the childcare centre. Waiting lists are common due to high demand, so it’s important to register as soon as possible.
To search for Victorian childcare centres, visit the Australian Childcare Alliance Victoria.
Family day care in Melbourne
In family day care, individuals care for children aged from six weeks in their own home. All carers must have:
- first aid training
- a Working with Children Check
- a Certificate III level early childhood education and care qualification.
A maximum of four preschool-aged children can be cared for at one time. Family day care abides by state licensing, National Standards and the Family Day Care Quality Assurance system (the national childcare accreditation system).
For more information visit Family Day Care Australia.
In home care
There is no specific government regulation of nannies or au pairs in Victoria. Nannies are usually supplied by specialist agencies listed in online directories. The agency should provide you with references for the nanny they are recommending, and you should check these.
Typical childcare costs
Childcare costs can vary widely, but Government support is often available to help you.
|Childcare type||Typical price range|
|Centre-based childcare||A$70 to A$185 dollars per day|
|Family day care||A$6 to A$17 per hour|
|Nannies||A$15 to A$35 per hour|
|Au pairs (living in your home)||A$170 to A$250 per week|
Government support may be available to you to help you manage these costs:
- Child Care Benefit – the Commonwealth Government pays part of the cost of some childcare. Centrelink arranges this service.
- Child Care Rebate – families can also receive a rebate of up to 50 per cent of their out-of-pocket childcare costs (the costs after the Child Care Benefit has been taken out).
How to find local childcare
Most local councils keep a list of the childcare options available in the local area. They may also be able to help with information about costs, vacancies and operating hours.
Playgroup is a regular group where you can bring your baby, toddlers and preschool-aged children to socialise. These groups are different from childcare as you are responsible for the care of your children. Playgroups are a great way to meet other parents in your community. They also provide good opportunities for children to meet other children and learn social skills.
Playgroups are generally free or incur a small fee (A$5 to A$10 per session) to cover costs. Some playgroups are supported by a paid worker, who organises the group and activities. Others are run by the parents, or by local councils, churches or community organisations.
How to find local playgroups
Many local councils can provide information about playgroups running in the local area. You should also check with your local religious or cultural association to see if they run a regular group.
For more information and to find a list of local playgroups, visit Playgroup Victoria.
The Victorian kindergarten program is a one to two-year preschool program for children before they start primary school. Kindergarten is not compulsory in Victoria but most children attend at least the second year (four-year-old kindergarten) – to develop social, mental and physical skills in preparation for school.
Children usually attend kindergarten for 15 hours a week, often split across sessions (for example morning or afternoon).
Kindergarten costs can vary widely in fees. The Victorian Government pays kindergartens a subsidy for every four year old child to reduce costs.
How to find a kindergarten
Many local councils have information about kindergartens in the local area.
Many kindergartens have long waiting lists so it is recommended that you register your child as soon as possible to secure a place.
Explore Melbourne’s preschool options
To find out more about Melbourne’s childcare and kindergarten options visit:
- Early Learning Association Australia – for information and resources about early education.
- Department of Education and Training – to find an early childhood service or school including a dedicated section about kindergarten programs.
- Playgroup – to find information about local playgroups.
- Childcare Alliance – for information about privately owned childcare options.