Frequently asked questions


How much are preschool fees?

Preschool fees vary between services. Currently the average preschool fee in NSW is around $40 in metropolitan areas and $30 per day in rural areas but there are wide variations and with increased funding, many preschools have been able to reduce fees – so contact your local preschool and ask.

NSW Preschools funded by the Department of Education and Communities receive additional funding for families that identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander or are low-income Health Care Card holders. This additional funding allows the service to reduce the barrier to preschool access, targeting these families.

Can I claim Child Care Benefit for preschool fees?

Many preschools provide what is known as ‘Registered care’. Carers or teachers in these services must be registered with the Family Assistance Office. Families using registered care are entitled to the minimum rate of Child Care Benefit for a maximum of 50 hours of care per child per week, but are not entitled to the Child Care Tax Rebate. The current rate (for the 2012/13 financial year) of Child Care Benefit for a non-school child using registered care is $0.652 per hour. Families using a preschool for 30 hours per week would receive Child Care Benefit of $19.56 per week.  To claim this money you take your preschool receipts to the Family Assistance Office to make a claim.

Can I claim Child Care Tax Rebate?

Families using preschools cannot claim Child Care Tax Rebate.

How do I enrol in a preschool?

Contact your local preschool. Every preschool has different enrolment procedures. It is best to contact your preschool as early as possible before you want them to start – even 12 months before. Search for a preschool on this site and arrange a visit.

Are there waiting lists?

Many preschools have more families requiring care than places available at their service.  The state Government requires preschools to fill the places according to the following priorities:

  • Children who are at risk of harm;
  • Indigenous children;
  • Children from low income families;
  • Children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds;
  • Children with disabilities;
  • Children in their year before school (with highest priority given to children closest to school entry).

Do preschools serve food?

Mostly, families pack a lunch and morning tea for their child attending preschool – but each preschool may have slightly different systems in place. So ask your local preschool.

Are preschools open in school holidays?

Generally not. Ask your local preschool.

Do preschools follow a set curriculum?

A new Australia wide curriculum has been established for early years learning services by the Commonwealth Government. Preschools in NSW have adopted this curriculum – The Early Years Learning Framework. The Early years Learning Framework – Belonging, Being and Becoming describes the principles, practice and outcomes essential to support and enhance young children’s learning from birth to five years of age, as well as their transition to school.  The Framework has a strong emphasis on play-based learning as play is the best vehicle for young children’s learning providing the most appropriate stimulus for brain development. The Framework also recognises the importance of communication and language (including early literacy and numeracy) and social and emotional development.

For more information see Early years learning framework (PDF – 170kb).

What does ‘community-based’ mean?

The preschools on this website are community-based preschools. This means they are not for profit entities designed to meet the needs of the children and families of the community in which they are situated.

Isn’t there a preschool at my local school?

There may be. The Department of Education and Communities operates 100 preschools based at schools in NSW. These are not the community based preschools discussed on this site. For more information about Department of Education preschools go to their website

Are there different types of preschools?

Community-based preschools come in many shapes and sizes. Some follow specific theories of education such as Montessori preschools or Rudolf Steiner preschools. Preschools generally are as unique as the communities in which they are based. Not all preschools are centre-based, and several mobile preschools travel to venues where preschool is set up in temporary venues, such as church halls.

Are all the staff qualified?

The Children (Education and Care Services National Law Application) Act 2010 determines the minimum number of qualified staff who must be employed by each preschool. Individual preschools can choose to staff at beyond minimum standards. If a preschool has between 30–40 children they must employ a university educated teacher, with an additional teacher required for each additional 20 children.  Generally in addition to teachers, preschools employ teaching assistants who often have a Diploma of Children’s Services. All staff employed by preschools must be deemed by the NSW Commission for Children and Young People to be “fit and proper” people and must have undergone a Working with Children Check.

At what age should my child go to preschool?

Generally, children start preschool at the age of three or four. Some preschools accept two-year-old children as well.

Is my preschool approved to operate?

To operate a preschool a services must have a provider and a service approval from the Department of Education and Communities. All preschools listed on this website have these approvals.

Why is play so important?

Play is very important for children.

Through play babies and young children explore and learn to understand the world around them as they come to communicate, discover, imagine and create.

When children play they are showing what they have learned and what they are trying to understand. This is why play is one of the foundations of the Early Years Learning Framework. Most preschools offer play based learning. A play-based program does not mean that children just do what they like all day. In a play-based program there will be times when children come together as a group, listen when others are talking, follow the rules of group living and begin to take responsibility for their actions and their environment.

Children are offered choices that reflect their developmental stage. The choices are determined by the educators and are provided within limits of safety and within the group setting. The educators at preschool continually evaluate children’s play to discover what it is children are learning and to then help shape and extend this learning.

Will preschool help my child be ready for school?

Yes.  Preschools help children to become socially and developmentally prepared to transition to school. Preschools also work with children at levels that are appropriate to their age, and enable children to develop and learn, gaining social competency and skills.