Families could pay for childcare by the hour under a federal government proposal.
The education minister, Simon Birmingham, told The Australian it’s unacceptable that families who routinely need and use only four, six or eight hours of care are charged for 10 or 12 hours. The government is hoping the hourly charge could start in 2017 but needs to get the legislation through Parliament first.
Cross-bench Senator David Leyonhjelm is open to the change. “This is a small step in the right direction,” Leyonhjelm told reporters. And independent Senator Nick Xenophon stressed it was an important issue that needed attention.
The Independent Education Union said, however, that the proposal would “create an administrative nightmare and show a lack of understanding of the early childhood teaching profession”.
“Basically, this smacks of a view that early childhood teaching is just babysitting, rather than education for children during the most crucial developmental stage of their lives, the 0–5 years,” said IEU early childhood sector officer Verena Heron. “It shows a poor understanding of the industry and would ultimately lead to higher fees for parents.”
President of the Australian Childcare Alliance, Gwynn Bridge, also expressed her concerns. “On the surface it can sound wonderful but we need to look at the fact that we are long day care,” Bridge said. “If we have children coming in and out of services for three, four hours a day, it’s not going to be the same quality that we have now.”
Bridge also explained that the new proposal would have a major impact on educators and having such short hours of work would diminish their titles. She also said children wouldn’t be at childcare long enough to participate in an early learning program and would therefore be less ready for school.Do you have an idea for a story?
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