Childcare's new premium price tag

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Julia Davison, the chief executive of not-for-profit group Goodstart Early Learning, said for-profit centres, faced with rising costs, were choosing to set up where they could charge more for ”premium” care.

”There is much more incentive for for-profit operators to set up in those localities where you can charge a high fee and where you’re going to get a high occupancy than there is for them to set up in middle or lower economic suburbs,” she said.

Ms Bower pays $120 a day to send her 10-month-old, Adrienne, to childcare. But she had placed her on a waiting list for a centre charging $165 a day, she said. And the centre Adrienne currently attends has recently been taken over by a private operator promising to review fees within the year.

”My main consideration in choosing a childcare facility was availability,” Ms Bower said.

The national average for childcare fees is about $100 a day.

Private operator Only About Children, run by investment banker turned childcare entrepreneur Brendan McAssey, charges up to $160 a day for its centres with services that include foreign language classes, nutritionists and health checks. Its operations are mainly clustered in affluent suburbs such as Mosman, Neutral Bay and Rose Bay, and it also operates a centre in South Melbourne.

His centres reportedly run at 100 per cent capacity.

The federal government, under its Childcare Rebate, covers 50 per cent of the cost of childcare up to $7500 a year. The rebate is not means tested. The Productivity Commission, which is scrutinising the sector in an inquiry, says the subsidies cost taxpayers $5 billion a year ”and growing”.

Think-tank The Australia Institute, in its submission to the inquiry, pointed to an ”uneven availability of childcare places”, noting that competition in the sector – and therefore choice for parents – was likely to be greatest in areas where the returns were higher.

It called for means testing of the rebate and to redirect funding to centres in areas of ”highest need to maximise service affordability”.

Goodstart, which took over ABC Learning’s centres after the private operator collapsed in 2009, is owned by a coalition of not-for-profit charities including Brotherhood of St Laurence. It operates 641 centres around the country and has a national market share of about 10 per cent, IBIS calculates.

About 40 per cent of childcare centres nationwide are run by not-for-profits. Ms Davison said the need for private operators to keep on top of costs and make a profit meant many were pursuing a ”premium” brand of quality care in inner-city areas.

”We may not see the growth that is needed in those other communities to support both children and working families,” she said.
















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Childcare's new premium price tag
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カテゴリー: Childcare   パーマリンク

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