Hon Judi Moylan

Families struggle to meet the cost of childcare

Families struggling to meet child care bills have been ignored by the Rudd Labor Government in their pleas to have the child care rebate paid at least fortnightly. Currently the 50 per cent rebate is paid quarterly in arrears. This is another blatant back down from an election promise, with Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard dismissing the concerns of thousands of parents, stating she will not pay the child care rebate fortnightly. Families are struggling to meet the cost of vital child care services but Deputy Prime Minister Gillard has now overturned a campaign promise to fast track paying the rebate every fortnight. The Government is now introducing the new National Quality Framework that will significantly increase costs for child care. The Framework requires additional staff with higher qualifications. Parents will face extra daily costs of between $13 and $22 and paying the rebate fortnightly or weekly would greatly assist in balancing family budgets with cash flow. The type of work and the hours parents can work are directly related to the availability of affordable quality child care. In the lead up to the 2007 election Mr Rudd committed to high quality, affordable child care and universal access to early childhood education. Since then, Australian parents have been handed policies that have reduced the government’s financial assistance for child care and increased the costs for both child care and early childhood education. First there was the commitment to 260 new child care centres. This promise was withdrawn in April this year. Then in the recent budget there was a raft of supposed savings announced. These included a reduction of the Child Care Rebate cap by $278 per year for the next four years. This is at a time when the new National Quality Agenda is expected to push up fees by up to $22 per day and reduce the number of child care places. Rural child care centres that operate on a part-time basis in areas such as the Wheatbelt are under threat when Minister Ellis only guarantees six months accreditation, making it virtually impossible to employ staff or start new services. Choices for parents looking for child care services will be reduced with the removal of the government’s start-up funding for Family Day Care and Remote Area Day Care. Fewer women will be able to start this home-based service without the grant. The Rudd Labor Government has ignored working families once more.

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