My partner, Trent, and I would have absolutely loved more than two children. We decided not to just based on the cost of childcare.
My second daughter, Amelia (Milly), who’s turning four in June, has been in daycare since she was about eight months old. It has been the most costly thing I’ve ever done in my life.
I was very lucky work-wise. I was able to take 10 months of maternity leave at half pay, then two months without pay before returning to full time work. I enrolled Amelia before going back to work so we could ease her into the new routine.
When I first put Milly in daycare each week brought a new cold or flu! My workplace couldn’t have been any more supportive. They do their utmost to support parents with children under five, allowing remote work, agile learning and flexibility. If I was out of sick leave but had a doctor’s certificate to show my child was sick they would allow extra leave.
Milly was a great centre with a great team, but it was expensive. For five days a week I was paying a heavy amount.
One thing that really bothers me is the way in which daycare is allowed to charge. I can’t drop from five days of work but I can work reduced hours some days, but the daycare will still charge me for the full 11 hours per day, regardless of whether I need three hours that day or 11. The Child Care Subsidy only applies for the first 100 hours and that runs out with full time care. Because I’m charged 110 hours a fortnight, the extra 10 hours are so costly, even though she’s not in care then. We’re charged for all public holidays as well. Even with the centre being closed, which surprises anyone that doesn’t have kids in daycare.
When Milly was two and a half we were approached by one of her Educators who said she was moving to a new centre. She loved Milly and informed us that there was a lot of in-house fighting at the centre. As a parent, only spending ~10 minutes at drop off and pick up, we hadn’t noticed, but it was very dramatic behind the scenes. The director had gone on maternity leave and the person underneath her played favourites with a small group of “mean girls”. There was a mass staff exodus and it was chaos. So we moved Milly to a new facility.
My eldest daughter had gone to a centre run by the same company, which we had found very similar to having a gym membership. Originally, it had been a little learning centre but when it got bought out by the big company, it got worse and management was hostile. It was a lot of drama to pull my daughter out of there at the start of my maternity leave. I’d had to send an email, then a written letter, then give four weeks’ notice while heavily pregnant.
Luckily, at Milly’s new centre, I’ve had nothing but positive experiences. However, the fees are killing me.
Trent and I both come from small families and don’t have any family support to rely on - we have to use daycare.
The centre yet again raised their fees this year. There’s no obvious difference in the service delivery or supplies, but I’m paying an extra $100 a fortnight. Additionally, the Educators aren’t paid fantastic wages. One Educator told me that a “good pay rate” is $50,000 a year.
I pay $837 out of pocket a fortnight for care. That for me is a house deposit. It really stops us from growing our family as we wouldn’t be able to care for more children the way we’d want to.
If you would like to share your story please email Maddy at [email protected]