Siblings playing

Alternate Childcare Options During COVID Lockdowns

Publication: Kiddipedia


With the ever-changing and dare say, unreliable, environment Australia is experiencing at the moment, it’s difficult to navigate everyday life, let alone childcare and work. They say, every day is a blessing, and now, I truly understand that feeling.

Without childcare, how do we manage work from home? How do we plan? Then the guilt! Should I feel guilty for not fulfilling my work commitments due to kid-disruptions or have the guilts’ for the kids being home and not giving them 100% of my attention? As a parent, this is one of the fundamental things in life you want to balance. So, let’s help you do that. Here are seven alternate options to childcare during COVID that you might not have considered to make sure you have consistent care to balance work & life.

Family daycare

Family daycare offers children from birth to 12 years of age an education and care option in small groups (up to 7 children), traditionally from the carer’s home or family learning environment. To find your nearest Family Daycare, just google Family Daycare in your suburb. Like Childcare Centres, there are strict regulations on this service and you can offset the fees through Childcare Subsidy. Family daycare providers operate various hours and some are 24 hours for shift workers. The option of taking older children is very helpful as you only need to arrange 1 person for all of your children. Just like Childcare Centres, they run a play based age appropriate curriculum. The only issue with Family Daycare is finding a provider with your preferred available hours. You do need to go hunting to find a good one but once you have one, their home becomes an extension of your home.

Nannies & nanny sharing

Nannies are considered to be In-home Carers, which are listed as essential workers falling under Health Care and Primary Care, so they are able to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. In Australia, you can expect to pay between $20-40 based on the Nanny’s experience. Investing in a nanny not only provides your children with care but the entire family. Nannies are generally qualified professionals that are skilled in child development. Meaning, you can rely on them to assist with homework and home-schooling, newborn care, creating a supportive environment for the family and more, on a long-term care basis.

Centre-based childcare but with perks

It’s understandable that alternate options might not be affordable or doable. Or, the loyalty you have to your childcare centre but uncertainty on whether to unenrol your child/ren. But what if you could offset the fees? We’re in and out of lockdown all around the country, with little notice and the debate on “how should or shouldn’t be charged”. As a legality, you, the parents, are liable for fees. Although, in many cases, childcare centres and the Government are offsetting fees. However, Nurch Childcare Loyalty Rewards is a new program that ensures that even if you are paying fees, you’re still being assisted. Families earn points for each dollar spent on childcare fees. The points are then eligible to be redeemed on everyday expenses such as groceries, fuel, entertainment and more.

Au pairs (living in your home)

Typically an au pair is a young, single person from overseas who wants to come to Australia to learn English and live as a member of an Australian family. Au pairs can be expected to do a combination of child care and light housework duties in exchange for board and a small allowance ($7 per hour). As the global crisis we currently face has paused International travel, Au pairs might be hard to come by but a very cost effective and reliable option if you can snag one.

Occasional, Flexible or Casual Care Services

Outside of school care hours are usually only available to children who are 5 – 13. These are typically run at school or through childcare centres. To entertain the children, they run either incursions or excursions. Personally, when they are doing excursions, I find that this is great value for money! There is no way I could entertain my child the whole day with the fees they charge. Companies are now offering child minding workshops etc. However, these are usually only for a few hours and quite expensive compared to the OCSH care services. Best way to find what is happening in your local area is to google vacation care in your local area. Keep an eye out at your local sporting associations as they often run sport clinics too.

The friends & family bubble

Friends and family can be a great, free option for care. During most lockdowns, there has been a “providing care” clause that allows for the care of children as a reason to leave your house. A great way to work together is to create a bubble and kidswap. Share the care between families – one household has the children one day, and the other family have them on another day. Be sure to adhere to the health and safety advice.

In-home care (babysitters)

A babysitter’s key task is to look after children, of all ages. However, they can also perform extra tasks and responsibilities which provides families flexibility and security for a daily routine. For example, coordinating pick ups and drop offs to activities, birthday parties, play dates etc. Some will even help with house chores to save you the hassle of cooking and cleaning after a long day too.

If you’re on a budget, a great way to share the cost is to share the care with another family. For multiple children, the hourly rate can slightly increase but you’ll still be better off. For a babysitter in Australia, you can expect to pay an average of $18.84 per hour.

Babysitters are a flexible option when needing short-term care on an adhoc basis. I find Kiddo App a great place to find a babysitter available in your area on demand. The best part about Kiddo App is that no one can advertise unless they have a valid Blue Card and Police Check. They also take care of the payment side too. It’s basically Uber for babysitters.

Stay up-to-date with the in-home care rules, and monitor any changes or new requirements through Government websites. The Department of Health and Safe Work Australia sites provide current information, and the Department’s Fact Sheet For In-home Care Workers and Guide for Home Care Providers detail ways to deliver normal, yet precautionary, in-home care at this time.

Ticker News

Ticker News – Childcare Loyalty Program

Publication: Ticker News

How is childcare being made more affordable for families? And how can you earn money back without doing anything extra? Nurch Childcare Loyalty Rewards is Australia’s first childcare loyalty rewards program, and Kara Smyth explains how the innovative concept works. Learn more here.


3 Ways to save on childcare

3 Ways to save on childcare that you might not be aware of

Publication: Beanstalk Mums


Do you feel like paying for childcare in Australia is like your morning coffee – you want it, you need it, you appreciate it but (ugh) do you pay for it?

Kara Smyth from Nurch Childcare Loyalty Rewards has over 15 years experience in the industry. She shares with us some tricky and valuable secrets on how you can save thousands on your childcare fees.

With Australian childcare rates ranging anywhere from $90 to $200+, per child, per day – it’s safe to say everyone needs to (or would love to) save on childcare fees when and where you can. Most families are paying $15,000 or more per child a year in gap fees. That figure rivals private school fees.

What I am going to provide you is my insider knowledge to ensure you are getting the best deal. These are practical tips that can be applied at EVERY childcare centre; And, the best part – you don’t need to compromise on your preferred educational facility or location. It isn’t about the ‘cheapest’ childcare, it’s about getting the best value for the money you invest into your child’s early learning journey.


If you want to get the best deal out of your childcare, then you need to understand where you sit on the child care subsidy family income test, including eligible activity level and available sessional hours. A few things to consider are:

Family income test

Your family income test is your taxable income amount and it dictates how much subsidy the government pays. The government is prepared to pay up to 85% of your fee. so be sure to speak with an accountant to ensure you are making all the taxable deductions available to you.

Account for all eligible activities

You need to be sure you are accounting for ALL of the eligible activities you do. Please visit this link HERE to ensure you are accounting for all paid, unpaid, study and business ventures. If you want to get the best deal, you need to get approved for the maximum hours available to you.

Understand the difference between the daily fees and sessional fees

Ensure you understand the difference between the daily fees and sessional fees. If a centre is open for 12 hours, then you would be best off booking the 12 hour session even if you only use 7 hours. Generally, the sessional hours aren’t cheaper and your government subsidy will be capped at an hourly rate. This means you will pay more and get less subsidy.

Avoid going over your sessional hours of care

If you can, do not go over your sessional hours of care. Most full-time working families can be approved for 100 hours of care per fortnight.

What that equals to is 4 full days of care. What that means is that 5th day is VERY expensive, no matter which way you divide up your hours of care. If you have to take the 5th day then do so on a casual basis and make it a Monday. Keep reading to find out why!


In order to get the best deal, you need to be quick to sign up to your local centre because families are onto this trick. It pays to read the fine print at your centre but most centres charge full fees for public holidays. Avoid Monday bookings because there are around 6 public holidays on a Monday. A tip is to only pick up a Monday casually if you can and utilise family on that day. Avoiding a Monday can save anywhere from $540 – $1200 in fees a year depending on your daily rate.


If childcare fees range from $90 – $200, then you can bet that inclusions are also just as varied. I have a few non-negotiable inclusions when looking for care, and they are food, wipes and nappies. These are a no-brainer and reduce your weekly grocery shop – not to mention the time it takes to pack these items (or avoid the frustrating moments when Daddy packs the bag and has forgotten to replenish them!).

If you have tried to make that early meeting, and missed it, then you understand your time is invaluable. Other nice things to have included weekly activity classes like gardening, cooking and yoga are included at Imagine Childcare centres . Let’s not forget about your morning coffee for free at any of the Imagine Childcare centres too. Personally, I have paid $10 for a weekly class on top of my childcare fees for that day. A coffee is $5 each so it all adds up!

A new value add is Nurch Childcare Loyalty Rewards. Families earn 1 point for every $1 they spend on childcare. You only need 300 points to get a $10 digital gift card at your favourite australian retailer too. If the average spend on childcare is $15,000 a year, then that is over $500 a year. Each and every year. The best part is that you actually earn more back when you stay enrolled for longer with the loyalty member bonus points. To join Nurch, you need to enrol at a partner centre or your centre needs to partner with Nurch to offer it to you. Find a Nurch partner centre HERE

On that note, as you can see it’s very easy to save thousands on your childcare fees over the lifetime of your childcare journey if you apply a few practical tips.

Channel 7 News Exclusive

Loyalty Rewards Scheme

Publication: Channel 7 SE QLD + Adelaide

It can be more expensive to send a child to daycare than a private school. See how we can help in this exclusive news story from Channel 7 news.