Childcare costs on the rise

Growing pains: Greater demand for staff and staff qualifications will raise child care services costs by up to 60 per cent, Child Care NSW has warned.

Growing pains: Greater demand for staff and staff qualifications will raise child care services costs by up to 60 per cent, Child Care NSW has warned.

Families will have to pay up to 60 per cent more for childcare services, because of greater demand for staff and higher staff qualifications, Child Care NSW has warned.

Its president, Nesha O’Neil, said changes to government legislation have increased childcare prices significantly in the past decade, ultimately leaving families who require child care services significantly out of pocket. 

But prices are set to again rise steeply in 2016, driven by increased staff numbers and higher costs, she said. 

“Staffing costs make up about 80 per cent of operation costs, so even a slight increase will affect costs,” Ms O’Neil said.

“By increasing the number of staff required to look after children, and the qualifications of those staff, the price to families increases.”

Almost 257 000 families use approved childcare in NSW and Ms O’Neil said the increase in costs would force families to make alternative decisions such as relying on “back yard care” or quitting work and relying on welfare payments. 

Principal research fellow at the University of Canberra Ben Phillips, said parents wouldremain short-changed despite government subsides, as childcare prices continued to climb. 

“The trend we have seen over the past five or six years is a strong increase in childcare prices and there has been no requisite increase in the childcare benefits or childcare rebate and that affects everybody across the board it leaves plenty out-of-pocket costs for families.”

The most recent Productivity Commission identified childcare as one of the greatest factors preventing women from participation in the workforce.

“It does mean a very difficult decision for the mother when considering whether to return to work or whether to increase her hours, given that the financial payoff is really quite slim,” Mr Phillips said. 

With the maximum amount of Child Care Rebate totalling $7500 per child per year, parents with children in Long Day Care often run out of government-assisted funding months before the end of the financial year with some childcare rates as high as $170 a day. 

“It is pretty quick that families meet that cap so it tends to mean that after about three days of childcare a week you are paying for all of your childcare out of pocket and that’s probably why a lot of woman don’t work more than three days a week,” Mr Phillips said.  

He said there wasno easy solution to making childcare more affordable but that he believed child care subsidies were the best option for mothers. 

“Increasing childcare subsidies will be difficult in a tight budget for 2015-16, however, re-directing some of the proposed expanded paid parental leave scheme would be desirable.”

“Child care subsidies are more effective in helping women return to work than a very expensive payment for leave.”

Ms O’Neil said the cost increases directly impacts on affordability for families and their investment in early childhood education. 

“Women want to work, parents want the best for their kids, and study after study shows that investment in early childhood education reaps rewards for years afterwards for society and the economy – so it is a mystery as to why the government would draw the purse strings tighter.”

Source Article from http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/nsw/childcare-costs-on-the-rise-20150123-12uz5e.html
Childcare costs on the rise
http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/nsw/childcare-costs-on-the-rise-20150123-12uz5e.html
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