Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Childcare cash to be paid weekly

Tuesday, 28 June 2011
By Mark Kenny, Political Editor
The Advertiser
FAMILIES will have access to more flexible government assistance when childcare rebates are made available weekly instead of quarterly.

Announced in the May Budget, the change means the subsidy of 50 per cent of out-of-pocket childcare costs can be paid directly to parents or to the childcare centre to cut fees, and can be paid each week or fortnight.

More than 54,000 South Australian families out of an estimated 702,000 families nationwide will be eligible, the Government said.

Treasurer Wayne Swan conceded the flexible payment option added no money, but followed the increase to overall payments from the original 30 per cent rebate up to 50 per cent three years ago.

That increase will put an extra $506 in the pockets of eligible SA families each year over the next four years amounting to an additional $27.3 million in SA annually and $518.8 million nationally.

Government figures show the overall cost to the Budget of childcare assistance is $16.4 billion over the next four years. Mr Swan said: “There are plenty of cost living pressures out there for families, so this continues to be important assistance for hundreds of thousands of Aussie families.

“From this week parents will be able to access their increased child-care rebate when the bills are coming in each fortnight, when they need the help most.”

The Government says parents had sought the more regular payments. The assistance comes as both sides traded blows in the phony war over theoretical tax cuts.

The Government has proposed unquantified tax cuts and welfare increases associated with the carbon tax.

The Opposition has responded with open-ended commitments to even bigger tax cuts and pension increases yet devoid of the most basic detail as to how it will all be funded. Yesterday, Opposition finance spokesman Andrew Robb hinted that the Opposition”s plan relied on better management of the economy which would see revenue growth as a function of higher productivity.

“What the Government does in mismanaging the economy over the next two years, is in itself very material to the sort of program that we will need to put together to fund these cuts, and to fund other measures that we will put to the next election,” he said.

WHAT YOU GET

– A rebate of 50 per cent of out of pocket childcare costs (capped at $7500 a child a year)

– Not income tested. But subject to eligibility for Child Care Benefit.

– Applicable

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for parents working, studying, or training and requiring use of government approved care packages.

– Available to eligible parents, foster parents or grandparent.


Subsidy call for childcare fee rise

Wednesday, 29 June 2011
By Sue Dunlevy
The Australian

TAXPAYER subsidies for childcare will have to increase to stop working mothers cutting back their hours when fees rise next year under changes to the sector, the Productivity Commission has warned.

In a 438-page draft report on the early childhood development workforce, the Gillard government”s key economic advisory body warns that Labor has been “optimistic” about its timeline for delivering thousands of extra trained childcare staff.

The national overhaul, due to begin in six months, will require childcare centres to increase their staff-to-child ratios and the minimum educational requirements of childcare staff.

The commission warns that parents of disadvantaged children may not be able to afford the changes. “By increasing qualification requirements and staff-to-child ratios, the National Quality Reforms will increase the cost of early childhood education and care,” it says.

“Government will need to ensure

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there is adequate financial support for such families.”

The commission warns that fee increases resulting from the changes could reduce the participation of women in the workforce, which would contradict Julia Gillard”s agenda of encouraging people into the workforce.

The report says studies showed “a 1 per cent increase in early childhood education and care fees leads to a 0.3 per cent reduction in the employment rate of mothers with young children and a 0.7 per cent decline in hours worked”.

Childcare operators have been calling for the changes to be delayed until 2014 to allow more time for staff training.

“We believe in improving quality and we support the reforms in principle, but we must get it right. We must slow these reforms down to bite-sized pieces so families aren”t hurt, staff aren”t burdened with confusing paperwork and centre providers understand their new roles and obligations and can train up their workforce in time,” Australian Childcare Alliance spokeswoman Gwynn Bridge said.

The commission report says 30,500 existing childcare workers do not have the basic Certificate 111 qualification required under the new system.

“More workers will be required in most types of early childhood education and care services, including preschool, long day care and family day care to meet the targets specified in the reforms.”

From January, childcare centres must comply with new ratios requiring one childcare worker for every four babies younger than two.

Education Minister Peter Garrett said this week more than two-thirds of early childhood education and care staff had qualification at Certificate III or above and almost 80 per cent in long day care had an ECEC qualification.


Parents protest childcare cuts

Wednesday, 29 June 2011
By Georgie Haberfield, Education
The Leader

PARENTS and children took to the steps of Parliament to protest childcare funding cuts today.

The small crowd, carrying placards and banners, demanded the State Government continue funding which subsidises 9,000 families.

Opposition spokeswoman Jenny Mikakos slammed government MPs for ignoring the protest, which began about 1pm, telling the crowd the State Government had failed to take responsibility.

“Mr Baillieu should listen to your concerns and the thousands of people that have signed the petition,” she said.

Four-year-old Lachlan, who travelled from Tongala to be at the protest said he would miss playing with his friends, painting, the sandpit and signing the most.

Wingate Child Care Flemington worker Michelle Chrimes

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warned the cuts would have flow-on effects, as many people use the service to volunteer their time in their communities.

Occasional care at the Duke St Community House in Sunshine will have to close, and three people will lose their jobs,

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according to manager Bronwen Merrigan.

“This service is already running at a loss for the good of the community and without this funding it will be impossible,” she said.

Almost 1,000 people have signed an online petition, and more than 900 have joined the facebook page.

Children and Early Childhood Development Minister Wendy Lovell announced the Government would stop funding the Take a Break Occasional Child Care program at the end of the year.

Ms Lovell told the Leader after the protest that there would be no state funding unless

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the Federal Government “paid their bit.’‘

“We will restore our part of the funding if the Federal Government promise to fund their share,’’ she said.

“The ball is squarely in Federal minister Kate Ellis’s court.’‘

Ms Lovell said the state should not be expected to pick up the Federal Government’s slack.

“We do not have enough money to pay the extra $1.1 million,’’ she said.

“I hope Kate Ellis will take notice of the protest and fund the program.’‘

Federal Minister for Employment Participation and Child Care Kate Ellis, however, said Ms Lovell’s suggestion was dishonest, as other states, including NSW, WA and SA continued to fund services.

“The previous Victorian Government acknowledged this significant overall increase in funding from the Commonwealth and committed to a review and extension of their funding for the Take-a-Break program,” she said.

Ms Ellis said she hoped Victoria will follow the lead of other states and continue to fund the program.

Association of Neighbourhood Houses & Learning Centres executive officer Angela Savage said of the $2 million funding, the federal government previously covered 70 per cent, with the state making up the shortfall.

She said the federal government is now only funding $1.1 million.

“No one is saving a lot of money by cutting the funding, but it is creating a significant amount of distress for families,” Ms Savage said.

She said 9,000 families were directly affected, and more would be affected indirectly as women can gain qualifications through the program.

“The federal government wants teenage mums back into the workforce, yet they cut a program that clearly strengthens and supports that,” she said.

The three hour sessions are a vital resource for Northcote mother-of-four Megan Den Elzen, who uses the time to shop or listen to her older son’s reading.

Warrandyte mother-of-three Natalie Van Winckel said families would suffer as full-time childcare is almost impossible financially and there are long waiting lists.

In Frankston North, 111 families would be affected, according to Jenni George, the co-ordinator at Mahogany Neighbourhood House.

“Without the funding, we won’t be able to continue with our service,” Ms George said.


Tighter rules put childcare centres out of business

Wednesday, 29 June 2011
By Sue Dunlevy
The Australian

CHILDCARE operators have begun to sell off their businesses to avoid a barrage of new fines and regulations that are expected to force fees up by an average $13 per child per day, more than 20 times what the government had predicted.

Kerry Lada, who ran the Hardy”s Road Early Childhood Centre at Mudgeeraba on the Gold Coast for 12 years, sold up two weeks ago. “It was too hard, I was going to have to increase fees by at least $13 a day,” she said.

Under national reforms to start on January 1 childcare centres will have to decrease the ratio of babies to carers from various state-mandated levels to four to one.

The full cost will not be felt until 2016, when centres will have to be hiring one staff member for every five children aged 25 to 35 months, and one carer for every 11 children aged three to school age.

Ms Lada said her 55-place centre would have had to drop eight childcare places or hire two extra staff next year as a result of the new regulations.

Nerida Campbell, who trained as a teacher and has two young children, runs a centre in Katanning, Western Australia.

She said she could not find the extra qualified staff she needed to meet the regulations in a rural area and her fees would have to rise by $10 a day next year.

“In the next six months we”ll be thinking about selling,” Ms Campbell said.

Staff who had worked in childcare for years were also considering resigning ahead of new regulations that will make staff and centres subject to fines if they did not meet new standards, Ms Lada said.

Childcare Minister Kate Ellis insists independent modelling from Access Economics shows the reforms will have a minimal cost impact of just 57c per child a day in 2012 and $8.67 in 2014-15.

But a new survey of 414 private and community-based childcare centres shows operators will raise their fees by an average of $13 a day after the new regulations are introduced.

One in five of those surveyed was contemplating rises of $25 a day.

The survey found 70 per cent of proprietors were not fully aware of their responsibilities under the new laws and 64 per cent said they would have to cut the number of places they offered.


Historical Independent Consultant Articles

Article Title Article Provider Date

Australian Industry Newsletter – 10 February 2012
Australian Industry Newsletter – 16 January 2012
Australian Industry Newsletter – 4 November 2011
Australian Industry Newsletter – 31 August 2011
Australian Industry Newsletter – 24 August 2011
Australian Industry Newsletter – 04 August 2011
Australian Industry Newsletter – 29 June 2011
Australian Industry Newsletter

– Tuesday, 15 June 2011
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Australian Industry Newsletter – 23 March 2011
Australian Industry Newsletter – 16 March 2011
Australian Industry Newsletter – 23 February 2011
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Australian Industry Newsletter – 10 November 2010
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