What’s the Best Child Care Option for Your Family?

The cacophony coming out of Canberra regarding child care has been deafening of late – government funding for centre care, home care or both; paid parental leave; productivity commission outcomes – the list appears to be endless, but what about the key message?

How do you wade through the noise to work out the best way to ensure your family receives the most appropriate level of care for your needs?

Once you identify the level of care required by your family, the decision certainly becomes easier. But for many families, understanding the differences between a babysitter, nanny and au pair is where things become confusing. While many people assume they are the same, in reality, not only do they all come with varying skill sets, but they also undertake varying duties.

A babysitter is employed to ensure there is an adult present to supervise children when the parent is unable to do so. It’s recommended that babysitters hold a First Aid Certificate and a Blue Card. Parents need to remember that if a babysitter doesn’t hold or isn’t working towards a qualification in child care, the level of care provided will reflect this.

A nanny is someone who cares for children within the family home. Nannies may live in or out, depending on the family’s requirements. Nannies take on all tasks involved in the care and educational development of children in their care. These tasks may also include the sole care of the child and any domestic duties involved in their health and wellbeing.

The level of experience and qualifications may vary from nanny to nanny. Typical qualifications held include child care certificates, diplomas or teaching degrees. Nannies also hold First Aid Certificates and Blue Cards. Light domestic duties may be negotiated and included in the nanny’s duties as long as they do not conflict with their primary responsibility of caring for children.

 Au pair

By tradition, an au pair is a young person from overseas helping with housework and child care in exchange for board and a small stipend. Quite often they have little-to-no experience with children, but they should at least be studying toward a child care and/or education qualification. Many au pairs are found online and do not usually hold a First Aid Certificate, nor have they been police checked. While this option might be cost effective for your family, it comes with many risks.

To mitigate the risks of employing babysitters, nannies and au pairs, it’s highly recommended that you always recruit a child care employee through a registered agency. The agency will take the time to interview the candidate, undergo the relevant employment and police checks, and will match the best candidate to the family. An agency also protects the child care worker and ensures candidates are paid and receive entitlements in accordance with the award.

If you’re keen to find out more or to see how an agency can help you find your ideal child care solution, contact Charlton Brown today on (07) 3216 0288 info@charltonbrown.com.au.


Petrina FraccaroPetrina Fraccaro is General Manager of CHARLTON BROWN®, one of Australia’s leading training providers and job placement agencies for the child care, aged care, community services and disability care industries. With more than 20 years of experience in Senior Marketing and Communication positions, and 15 years in the private and public tertiary and vocational education industries, Petrina drives the Operations, Sales and Marketing, Student Recruitment and Enrolments and Administration for CHARLTON BROWN®. She was a 2014 Business Person of the Year finalist in Brisbane’s Lord Mayor’s Multicultural Business Awards and holds a number of positions with boards and industry associations. www.charltonbrown.com.au