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Long school days for children

The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) findings show that one in 10 children regularly attend after-school care and one in 20 before-school care.

According to an analysis of 10,000 Australian kids, mothers who work long hours, single mums and those in country areas are more likely to use before- and after-school childcare.

The study that was presented recently at the AIFS biennial conference found that 17 per cent of children with mothers working full-time regularly attend after-school care, and 6 per cent before-school care.

The study has sparked debate between childcare workers, parents and family services experts.

Lead researcher with AIFS Dr Jenny Baxter told the Herald Sun that children were not spending too long at school.

“Some of the programs are really good and parents are happy to use them, but of course it can be quite a long day,” she said.

Baxter said that for two-thirds of mums formal childcare was not needed as a result of an increase in hands-on dads, flexible work hours and help from grandparents.

Bill Muehlenberg, secretary of the Family Council of Victoria, has expressed concern for children who are “dumped” at school for 11 hours a day.

“The younger the child spends time away from their mother, the more harmful the impact,” he said.

But Scott Bull, chief executive of OSHClub, which provides before and after-school care to more than 5000 children, said high-quality programs were valued by both parents and children.

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