Childcare mess needs State to pitch in

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The Productivity Commission found only 15 per cent of school students nationally attend outside school hours care.

It’s not because mothers prefer to be at home. One in four parents who weren’t working or were working part-time, with a child aged under 12, did so because they couldn’t find childcare, the report said.

Parents unable to leave the office at 3pm to dash to the school gate complained of the impossibility of getting siblings into the same after-school care centre, such was the squeeze for places in some cities.

One Sydney school, Leichhardt Primary, is offering only 180 spots after the 3pm bell rings, despite 650 students attending classes each day, a parent reported.

The Productivity Commission has been tasked by Prime Minister Tony Abbott to come up with a masterplan to ease Australia’s childcare chaos.

But the solution will involve more than Commonwealth government action. When it comes to the disconnect between school timetables and the hours many parents are required to work to keep their job, the ball is in the state government’s court.

The commission’s draft report urges state governments to direct all primary schools to provide outside school hours care for their students. It also suggests schools may need to adjust their hours.

Parent groups and councils across Sydney have been lobbying the NSW education department to take responsibility for the childcare of school students, but their calls have so far been ignored.

NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli has previously said it is up to individual school principals to decide if school facilities should be used for childcare. 

The Productivity Commission’s draft finding should force a rethink of that position.

The NSW Government argued to the commission that although parents increasingly wanted after-school care places within school grounds, space was limited. Expanding after-school care was a Commonwealth responsibility, and partnerships with off-site childcare facilities could be pursued, NSW said.

But the commission was critical of the NSW Government’s hands-off approach.

NSW had no quality standards when it came to staff qualifications, or child-to-staff ratios, for outside school care. Most states have a staff to child ratio of 1:15, and the commission said the NSW situation ‘‘may be detrimental to the quality of care.’’

The report also highlighted concerns by community groups that the NSW tendering process to run a childcare on school grounds was ‘‘opaque’’, and could be encouraging principals to cash in.

Robyn Monro Miller, chief executive of the industry body, Network of Community Activities, says: ‘‘The NSW Government has not enforced ratios or qualifications for outside school care. Until they have those, they will be challenged by unscrupulous providers who may place children at risk.’’

Despite the department’s denials, she says the NSW Government is clearly responsible for the childcare of school students in NSW, because ‘‘it’s an integral part of children and families’ lives’’.

‘‘The school day doesn’t just begin at nine and end at three.’’

Steph Croft, of the Northern Sydney Council of Parents and Citizens Associations, says schools need to become involved in the care of their students. ‘‘Childcare is a national priority and to have a situation in the lower North Shore where every community facility was full and the schools were sitting completely empty was not on.’’

‘‘A whole lot of women are being prevented from working the hours they want to work, and it is putting stress on families.’’

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Childcare mess needs State to pitch in
childcare – Yahoo News Search Results
childcare – Yahoo News Search Results

カテゴリー: Childcare   パーマリンク


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