1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 1998  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/02/1998   
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The ABS Child Care Survey conducted in March 1996 showed that almost half (48%) of the children in Australia under 12 years used some form of child care (see table 7.14). Of those children who used child care, 40% used formal care. Use of formal care has steadily increased since 1987. In 1996, 20% of children under 12 years used formal care.

In the table, child care refers to arrangements made for the care of children under 12 years of age, excluding care which is provided by custodial parent(s). Formal child care is regulated care which takes place away from the child’s home and includes attendance at preschool, a child care centre, family day care and occasional care (short periods of care generally available to children under five, which allow parents to shop, attend appointments etc.). Informal care is non-regulated and can take place in the child’s home or elsewhere. It is most commonly provided by relatives (including a non-custodial parent) of the child, but also includes care by friends, neighbours and paid baby sitters.

As well as seeking information on the types of child care being accessed, the ABS Child Care Survey in March 1996 asked parents to indicate whether their requirements for formal child care were being met. In some cases, parents reported a requirement for formal child care, while in others the children were already accessing formal care but required more. In 1996, around 8% of children (261,700) under 12 years of age required formal care which they were not receiving (see table 7.15). Before and after school care was reported as the main type required by about one-third (32%) of these children. Occasional or irregular care accounted for a further 31% of care required for children under 12 years of age. These two categories combined have accounted for over half of the formal care requirements since 1990.