Affordable childcare options for low income families

For families that don't have a high income, it can be hard to stretch the budget to cover childcare. However, there are many advantages to working, including the incremental income, constant additions to the superannuation balance and the ability to get some mental stimulation beyond parenting. Luckily there is a range of options for childcare for families on a low income. 

Informal childcare including swaps

If you have friends or family in a similar situation, you can often sign up to swap babysitting duties. Even families that do not have both parents working may be open to swapping some childcare so that they can get you to babysit for a night out sometime in return for babysitting for you when you need to work. Often, kids love these arrangements as they get a chance to play with some friends, which can be a lot of fun. 

Many Australians are also embracing arrangements such as using an au pair, where a young person on cultural exchange stays with the family in return for pocket money and room and board. 

Casual childcare

Some childcare providers will allow you to sign up for casual shifts, which can be handy to allow you to limit your paid childcare to the time that you need it. Family day care providers are often flexible in this way, which can be very handy for parents who may get called in at short notice for shifts. These casual shifts are still eligible for normal childcare rebates, so this can help to reduce the hourly cost by up to 85% (provided the family earns under the income cap and the provider charges less than the capped hourly rate).

Long daycare

If you have some flexibility of how you can work your hours, it can often be more efficient to try and work a few long days rather than shorter shifts over more days as you save on commuting time between the childcare and your work (which adds to your total number of childcare hours required). This can be a good option for self-employed people or people who can allocate their work hours as they choose. 

Depending on your income levels and the hours of your work roster, you can find different childcare options to suit your family. Why not call up some local childcare providers and start exploring whether their service might be a good fit for your family?