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Childcare giant calls for redirection of rebates from parents to providers

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Karvelas, Patricia
Publication Date: 
11 Jul 2012



The nation's largest childcare group has told the Gillard government its reforms are costing too much to implement and providers need more funding to keep price rises under control.

An executive summary of the submission by Goodstart, obtained by The Australian, calls for a "mandatory redirection" of the childcare rebate from parents to providers.

The group, which has more than 650 centres around the country, also calls for increased investment to support the National Quality Standards as well as payment of professional wages.

Goodstart says it strongly supports the reforms, but there is "no refuting" their introduction would continue to increase operating costs as they unfolded over the next four years.

Overall costs have increased more rapidly than government funding of almost $4.5 billion a year, reducing affordability for the 60,000 families who send 72,000 children to its centres.

"Recently, the introduction of the National Quality Framework has increased operating costs for early learning and care providers beyond what they have been able to absorb and some costs have been passed on to families," the submission says.

"This then impacts use of services and reduces access for children. Affordability is likely to impact workforce participation as families juggle their budgets, care for their children and workforce commitments."

It is the first time the organisation has said the government needs to compensate centres for the reforms or accept that price rises will be passed on to parents, making fees skyrocket.

Last month, Julia Gillard convened an emergency summit with employers and unions after she conceded parents needed relief from rising childcare costs.

The Prime Minister is considering a shake-up of the system, with the government modelling ideas including paying childcare centres the rebate directly in exchange for moderated fee rises, creating a single childcare payment and subsidising staff pay.

Under national reforms that began in January, the ratio of babies to carers is down to to four to one. The full cost will not be felt until 2016, when centres will have to hire one staff member for every five children aged 25 to 35 months, and one carer for every 11 children aged three to school age. From January 2014, every childcare worker must have at least a Certificate III qualification and every centre must employ a four-year, university-trained teacher.

Goodstart says funding needs to be simplified. And the call for wages assistance is backed by childcarers union United Voice. "Outside a comprehensive government review, Goodstart supports the mandatory payment of the Child Care Rebate directly to service providers to result in greater transparency to families of the contribution made by government and the actual cost to them," it says.

Goodstart chief executive Julia Davison said: "If a holistic review is not feasible, Goodstart recommends mandatory redirection of CCR to service providers and increasing investment to support the National Quality Standards and payment of professional wages."

-reprinted from the Australian

Entered Date: 
10 Jul 2012
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