The majority of Australian families say early learning and childcare is so expensive that it’s hardly worth taking on paid work, according to new research.
The Front Project’s Work and Play report, released yesterday, that surveyed 1700 families revealed:
- 52 per cent agreed that once the cost of care is factored in, it’s hardly worth working;
- 47 per cent have had to make financial sacrifices to afford care;
- 43 per cent had to change work arrangements to fit in with the service they could find/afford.
The Parenthood Executive Director Georgie Dent said the report showed how far off the mark Australia fell in terms of offering universally accessible, high-quality, affordable early learning and care and the devastating impacts on women, families and children.
“The Federal government will continue to fail children, women and families unless it takes these findings seriously. It is time to deliver high quality early childhood education and care that is universally accessible to every Australian child.
“Australian parents with children under five are caught in a trap of inadequate paid parental leave and a lack of access to affordable, high quality early learning. These are the policies that make or break families.
“Investing in early childhood education and care gives children the best start in life. It boosts child development outcomes, improves educational achievement, increases workforce participation and enables families to more readily combine their caring responsibilities with paid work.”
The report also found more than three quarters (77 per cent) of parents currently using paid early education and care agree that ‘access to ECEC services is important for the mental health and wellbeing of the whole family’.
“This is a wake up call,” Ms Dent said. Families are saying how important early education is, not just for the direct benefits it delivers to children, but for the valuable role it plays in supporting the wellbeing of the family.
“We need to recognise early education and care as a vital piece of infrastructure that supports families and children in myriad profound ways. This report also makes clear that parents are looking to the Federal government to improve the system.”