Child care and early childhood education

Our research expertise

In the years before children start school and then over the primary school years, Australian families inevitably need to make child care arrangements (within family networks or outside of the family - child care centres). Working out child care arrangements can be a constant dilemma and struggle for parents. Child care is also valued for the developmental and social opportunities it gives children. Early child education (such as pre-school) is especially valued for these reasons and can be an alternative to child care for some families. In recent years the way families manage their work and child care arrangements has become a key research area for the Institute. 

AIFS research on child care arrangements has focused on:

  • child care and maternal employment participation
  • children's experiences of child care
  • school-aged care including care for children in school holidays
  • children's participation in early childhood education
  • grandparents.

Current projects

Evaluation of child care flexibility trials
An evaluation of the Australian Child Care Flexibility Trials introduced by the Commonwealth Department of Education.

Maternal employment trends and transitions
Explores the trends in mothers' employment participation and the characteristics of mothers' employment.

Selected publications

A critical review of the early childhood literature
The Department of Education and Training contracted the Australian Institute of Family Studies to undertake a critical review of the key and influential evidence on the value of preschool for three year olds, Indigenous children and those from disadvantaged backgrounds and the applicability of the international evidence to the Australian context.

Child care participation and maternal employment trends in Australia
Explores trends in child care in Australia, for children aged under 12 years old with employed mothers.

Access to early childhood education in Australia
This report presents AIFS research undertaken to identify gaps in access to and participation in preschool programs by Australian children in the year before full-time school.

Access to early childhood education in Australia: Insights from a qualitative study
This report investigates parents' knowledge of and attitudes towards Early Childhood Education (ECE).

Maternal employment and the care of school-aged children
This journal article describes links between maternal employment and the use of different types of child care for school-aged children.

Parenting partnerships in culturally diverse child care settings: A care provider perspective
Focuses on the extent to which carers in child centre care and family day care contexts work with parents to understand their perspectives on childrearing.

Did you know ...

83% of 4-5 year old children not yet at school attend a pre-school program.

(Source: ABS)


Jennifer Baxter
Senior Research Fellow

Kelly Hand 
Deputy Director, Research

Diana Warren
Senior Research Fellow | Senior Manager of Research and Analysis Team in Large Scale and Longitudinal Studies

More information

AIFS news

Get the latest news about our publications, research and upcoming events.