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Early childhood budget reactions range from bad to worse

 

Community Child Care Co-operative NSW CEO Leanne Gibbs, Photo: CCCC

CCCC chief executive Leanne Gibbs, Photo: CCCC

“Sorry, but sometimes Community Child Care Co-operative has to have just a little bit of fun.” So went the lighthearted beginning to Community Child Care Co-operative NSW’s (CCCC) reaction to the childcare measures in last night’s federal Budget.

“Like when a Budget is announced that has few measures in it that will make childcare more affordable or accessible, and that definitely won’t make it better quality,” it gravely continued.

 

 

 

ECA CEO Samantha Page. Photo: LinkedIn

ECA chief executive Samantha Page. Photo: LinkedIn

Pay delay

Nonetheless, CCCC applauded the announced one-year delay in implementation of the Jobs for Families Child Care package, leaving time “for the worst elements of the package to be modified”.

Early Childhood Australia (ECA) chief executive Samantha Page concurred. The delay provides “an opportunity to improve the package to ensure that all vulnerable children can participate in early learning”, she said.

Yet not everyone was happy with the delay. Australian Childcare Alliance, the peak body for privately owned early childhood education and care services, called it “disappointing”. “Families are doing it tough now, with many reducing their workforce participation as their Child Care Rebate runs out and a further two-year delay to the support that the Package will bring is a long wait”, they averred.

Rebate revival

Another major early learning budgetary take home was the indexation of childcare rebates for the first time since 2011. Page thought this insufficient, as, together with the delay in implementation of the package, “many families have already reached an affordability ceiling”, she said.

Nannies speak up

Annemarie Sansom, President of the Australian Nanny Association, was satisfied with the Budget’s nanny concessions. “We are pleased to note that the Interim Home Based Care Nanny Pilot Programme has been extended until June 2018 and that the subsidy rate for eligible families has increased from the maximum of $7 per hour per child to $10 per hour per child commencing on the 1st of June 2016”, she said.

 

Simon Birmingham. Photo: senatorbirmingham.com.au

Simon Birmingham.

Birmo’s pride

Despite gripes from bodies such as CCCC and ECA, the government appeared proud of its efforts. Along with the indexation of rebates, it announced a 9.6 per cent increase in early education funding, to $8.6 billion.

Further, a Department of Education and Training statement indicated a national rollout of the Early Learning Languages Australia (ELLA) program would be funded by this year’s Budget.

Disabilities were also on the early childhood budgetary agenda. The education minister, Simon Birmingham, together with senators Scott Ryan and  Richard Colbeck, promised $543 million for the Inclusion Support Programme, to help childcare centres better provide for children with special needs.

ECA, however, remained unconvinced that all is well. Aside from the previously mentioned grievances, the group remained troubled by the Budget’s failure to include funding for professional development and universal preschool access. Unlike the CCCC, its profound concern rendered the organisation unable to kid.

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