Media reports today of daycare fees hikes, some as high as double digits, have again highlighted the importance of improving the affordability and accessibility of quality early childhood education and care.
The Parenthood Chief Executive Director Georgie Dent said, “The affordability and accessibility of early learning and care are major issues for Australian parents.
“We know that the average cost of child care is about $133 per day but there are suburbs in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne where families are paying closer to $200 per day. These fees quickly add up to place pressure on family budgets and make quality early learning unaffordable for too many parents.
“Australian families pay some of the most expensive early learning fees in the world, the cost of living pressure is immense and the recent interest rate rises all add to the burden.”
More than a million families are expected to benefit from the Federal Government’s “Cheaper Childcare” changes to subsidies from July this year.
“The changes to the childcare subsidy will make early learning more affordable for over a million families and will mean the equivalent of 38,500 full-time employees - mostly mums - will return to the workforce,” Ms Dent said.
“But this is dependent upon the early education workforce; at least another 9,000 early educators will be needed to ensure services are able to accommodate the increase in demand for places for children. Ensuring educators are paid appropriately for their skilled and valuable work is key to halting the mass exodus from the profession which is threatening the capacity of the early learning sector.
“Every child, regardless of where they live or what their parents earn, deserves access to quality early learning before they start school. Abolishing the activity test would ensure children in families with low income or parents in casualised work can have greater access to early learning that supports their development and education.
“Between zero and five is the most richly formative time in a child’s development, which is why it presents a profound opportunity to set children up for lifelong success,” she said.