We wrote to the 50 largest early childhood education providers in Australia to ask what fee increase is being passed on to families and what it is contributing towards. We asked the providers to come back to us by this Friday (14 July).
To whom it may concern,
The Parenthood is an advocacy group, representing more than 80,000 parents and carers all over Australia.
Parents are very interested in the decisions that Early Childhood Education and Care providers are making about fees and fee increases. We understand that ECEC providers that in a high inflation environment, fees have to go up to cover increased costs. With a tight labour market, we also understand that ECEC providers need to pay more to attract educators.
On the 5th of July, an interim report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's (ACCC) childcare inquiry was released. The report highlights a significant increase in childcare fees compared to wages and inflation rates over the past four years. According to the report, fees for all types of early childhood education and care rose by approximately 20 to 32 percent between 2018 and 2022. In contrast, inflation and wages grew by just over 15 and 10 percent, respectively, during the same period.
The report also notes that the number of childcare centers charging fees above the daily cap has doubled. This finding suggests that not only are childcare fees increasing overall, but there is also an increasing number of centers charging prices that exceed the set limit.
We also know that later this year, the ACCC will be reporting on ECEC providers’ fee decisions, and that large providers will also be required to provide financial information to the Education Department which may make its way to Starting Blocks. And we know that many providers have already updated their fee schedules on Starting Blocks but that for too many, it has been a long time since their fees on Starting Blocks were updated.
Parents want to know now what the fee increases are being posted by their provider, and whether that fee increase is reasonable in comparison with the costs faced by the provider (for example for educators’ wages) and in comparison with other providers.
To that end, The Parenthood is writing to the 50 largest long daycare providers seeking information on their fee increases over the past twelve months. We also want to know how that fee increase lines up with the increase in wages afforded to educators. We will also publish any justification or explanation that a provider wishes to provide for their fee decisions.
Many parents have already provided us with fee letters from their providers, so we have a lot of information already. We want to provide each large provider with the opportunity to demonstrate their transparency about fee decisions, particularly mindful of the high level of public subsidy that now flows to providers from the Federal Government.
Please come back to us by 5pm Friday July 14.