Parents reel over childcare fees


On average, after government subsidies are applied and childcare fees are taken out, a mother's hourly wage is:

$4 an hour on a low income

$12 an hour on a middle income

TWEED parents are paying childcare fees on par with Brisbane's most expensive daycare centres.

It's prompted local childcare workers to call on the Federal Government to step in and make it more affordable.

The figures, which prove current childcare rebates are a disincentive for new mothers to work full-time, were revealed last week by the Childcare Affordability in Australia report, prepared by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling.

Report author Ben Phillips said the percentage of disposal income left after daycare fees were taken out of the income of a family in the Tweed was 6.4% and "was very close to the most unaffordable childcare centres in Queensland, outside of mining towns". This included the Brisbane CBD at 6.7% and Chermside at 6.9%.

Renee Smyth, the educational leader at the Terranora Child Care Centre, which charges $96 a day including home-cooked meals, said rising childcare costs had not equated to a rise in profits for the centres.

"For private-service providers who actually care about children, there is not a lot of profit to be made from owning a service."

She believes it's time for federal funding to "invest" more on top of the current childcare rebate of $28 daily (which is means tested) and the childcare benefit of $32 daily.

Ms Smyth believes lowering childcare fees should not come at the cost of the wages that childcare workers have fought for through the Fair Work Commission.

"We are not babysitters, we are qualified teachers and educators. Our work with children is based on theory and research.

Early Childhood Australia spokesman Mark Paviour has supported Ms Smyth's call.

"The $28.5 billion childcare benefit and rebate system is in significant need of reform," he said.

"Areas like Tweed Heads are struggling with the cost of services, despite the investment from the Federal Government."


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