90,000 more children in childcare than a year ago
NEW figures show the number of Australian children in child care has grown almost 90,000 in just 12 months.
The Child Care and Early Learning in Summary Report reveals a record 1.12 million children were enrolled in formal child care during the December quarter in 2013.
This compares to 1.03 million in December, 2012 - a 8.5% increase in 12 months.
Of the 646,750 children attending a long-day care service, about one in four were in regional or remote Australia.
The Federal Education Department report comes as the current Productivity Commission Inquiry into Child Care and Early Childhood Learning begins drafting its final report.
Assistant Education Minister Sussan Ley said she was concerned to see growth in Federal Government spending on child care fees assistance outstripping enrolments by more-than two-to-one (19.1%) over the same 12-month period.
"The demand for affordable, flexible and accessible child care continues to grow as more and more Australian families find they can't afford not to work, but also can't afford to return to work either," Ms Ley said.
The Federal Government has tasked the current Productivity Commission Inquiry - which is reviewing the child care system.
The Productivity Commission Inquiry's draft report found: "the affordability of childcare was the most commonly reported barrier to workforce participation for parents with children under 5 years old".
Australian Bureau of Statics figures, released last month, also showed that "while 57.5% of mothers whose youngest child is aged 0-5 years were participating in the paid workforce, 94% of fathers, whose youngest child is 0-5 years, were working".
Ms Ley said the figures showed there had also been a slight reduction in long day care fees - the first in two years - with the hourly price falling from $7.65 per hour in the September Quarter 2013 to $7.60 per hour in the December Quarter 2013.
Key December Quarter 2013 figures:
- 1,120,880 children attended approved child care in December Quarter 2013, up 8.5% on the December Quarter 2012 (1,033,150).
- 776,790 families had at least one child in approved child care in December Quarter 2013, up 6.8% on the December Quarter 2012 (727,030).
- 16,038 approved child care services operated in Australia in December Quarter 2013, up 5.1% on the December Quarter 2012 (15,256).
- Australian families claimed an estimated $1,368.8 million in Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate in December Quarter 2013, up 19.1% on December Quarter 2012 ($1,149.0 million).
- Children spent, on average, approximately three full days in long day care each week (27.5 hours).
- Of the 776,790 families that had at least one child in approved care, most families (524,070) used a long day care service.
- The average price of long day care fees fell for the first time in two years, from $7.65 per hour in September Quarter 2013 to $7.60 per hour in December Quarter 2013.
Child Care and Early Learning In Summary December Quarter 2013 is available at: http://education.gov.au/child-care-and-early-learning-summary