Parents face childcare fee hike
A DRAMATIC increase in childcare fees means some parents may have to pay an extra $33 a day to have their child minded.
Service providers are predicting this could have dire consequences, with either a 20 per cent cut in the number of childcare places or a 20 per cent rise in costs.
According to figures released by Child Care NSW in order to meet regulations outlined in the Council of Australian Governments reforms, childcare rates may rise from $11 to $33 a day for each child.
The higher end of the scale impacts on children aged up to three and comes as a result of changes to the number of staff required to supervise each child from one-to-five, to one-to-four.
The figures come from a survey commissioned by Child Care NSW, with results derived from 170 childcare centres across NSW. The survey looked at how the COAG reforms will impact on childcare centres across NSW, both financially and in terms of employment.
Sol Ibraham, chief executive of Northern Rivers Child Care Services, said he envisaged a dramatic increase in fees to cover the costs of extra staff employed.
NRCCS has more than 2000 children enrolled. A 20pc decrease in childcare places would see 400 children left without access to childminding.
“It means a 20 per cent reduction in the number of children in care or a 20 per cent increase in fees,” Mr Ibraham said.
“Our income is directly linked to the number of children we care for, so there will need to be a reduction in services or an increase in fees.”
Most of the additional costs would have to be passed on to parents, rather than being absorbed through individual centres.
“We’re not going to reduce the quality of our service,” Mr Ibraham said. “Ethically, and as a business, that can’t happen. I can’t see the carers being able to do that either, so the bulk of that cost is going to come from the parents.”
If childcare centres are unable to absorb the rise in costs, the rise will impact parents.
Alison Graham, of Alstonville, who has a two-year-old son Angus and one on the way, will feel the effects of the changes first-hand.
“It will make things very tight,” she said.
“It would mean I probably couldn’t have Angus in childcare at all during my time off, which would make it very difficult.
“The tax rebate will be what makes the difference. But even if they increase that it depends on whether you can afford the initial outlay.”
Shannon Fields, of Ballina, who has two children, does not think the price rise would change her use of childcare.
“It would mean you wouldn’t have a lot of money to bring home at the end of the day, but it wouldn’t put me off sending them there,” Ms Fields says.
Vicki Skoulogenis, acting vice-president of Child Care NSW, said the issue needed to be brought to the attention of the parties during the election campaign.
“We’re not taking sides, we just want whichever government goes into power to take a good look at it,” Ms Skoulogenis said.
“We applaud them for what they are doing, but the problems associated with the costs need to betaken into account.”