Findings from a new survey of over 500 parents across Australia conducted by The Parenthood show that more than 90 per cent of parents have experienced an increase in childcare fees in recent weeks.
The results indicate that families across the nation are disappointed as they don’t benefit from the higher rates of the new Child Care Subsidy - which started this month - because childcare providers have increased their fees.
“Is it a coincidence that some childcare providers increased their fees by more than 10 per cent just at the very same time the Federal government raised the Child Care Subsidy?” says Jessica Rudd, CEO of The Parenthood.
“The Parenthood understands the pressures operators are facing. We understand that the costs for early childhood operators have gone up too. Our calculations show that 8 to 9 per cent fee increases are reasonable, considering inflation and staff shortages but anything beyond 10 per cent is unacceptable,” says Rudd.
“It is not fair, nor acceptable, that some providers seek to profit from the government's investment of $5.4 billion at the expense of parents, taxpayers, and early childhood educators,” says Rudd. “We have zero tolerance for the sort of opportunism we're seeing from a number of cynical providers.”
“The Federal Government’s increases to the Child Care Subsidy were implemented to help ensure that early childhood education and care becomes more affordable and accessible for families. However, this will only be possible with cooperation from providers.”
“Our findings point to an extremely disappointing trend where opportunistic fee hikes are eating up the potential improvements to family household budgets.”
“This is simply unacceptable when Australians already pay some of the highest childcare fees in the world.”
The survey reveals that childcare fees have increased by over 10% for 29% of respondents, and by over 15% for 7.4% of respondents.
“What is even more disappointing is that these fee increases have not resulted in any material wage increase for early childhood educators, who continue to be undervalued and underpaid,” Ms Rudd said.
“Childcare providers must ensure that fee increases they pass on to families are just and appropriate.
“We also call on the Federal, state and local governments to ensure there is greater scrutiny and oversight of fees. Price gouging in any circumstance is unacceptable, but especially at a time of rising costs of living,” Ms Rudd said.
More than 500 parents and carers from all over the country participated in our survey and told us how the fee increases impact their family’s budget. Some answers included:
- We are looking for another centre as we've become priced out of the one we go to and love.
- It means we can’t afford care which means I can’t work.
- Nil change, the extra subsidy is entirely eaten by increased fees.
- We have had to pull our child out of care some days and juggle while working.
- We are now paying $14 more a week. Just as our mortgage is coming off a fixed rate and other bills are increasing.
The Parenthood wrote to the 50 largest early childhood education providers across Australia, asking them about the fee increases being passed on to families and what they were contributing towards. Only two providers wrote back.