Although the issue of accessible, affordable and quality childcare has been put to a Productivity Commission by the Coalition, due to report later this year, Family Day Care Australia claims treasurer Joe Hockey’s first Federal budget has delivered a blow to the sector.
The body representing family day care providers say some services could be forced to close down due to a $157 million cut over three years revealed in last week’s budget, and parents paying an additional $35 in fees a week.
Around 80,000 families and 142,400 children rely on family day centres, with more than 22,000 family day care educators across Australia — many of which are in regional and remote areas. Most operate as small businesses within their own homes, often offering flexibility that can cater to non-traditional working hours for parents. It is the country’s fastest growing form of childcare, with many relying on funding under the Community Support Programme.
These services account for 13% of the entire early childhood education and care sector, according to the Department of Education. Recent research by Choice found average daily costs for family day care is $57 compared with $80 at long day care centres.
“The costs will ultimately have to be passed onto the families, most of whom are already struggling to afford child care fees,” FDCA chief executive officer Carla Northam said in a statement following the release of the Budget papers. “Without this funding it will be impossible for many family day care services to remain viable.”
The funding cuts comes as childcare subsides for children enrolled in formal childcare is expected to increase to $28.5 billion over the next four years, largely due to the increasing number of children requiring such care.
In its submission to the Productivity Commission, FDCA called for greater Federal government founding to be directed at approved services, rather than parent subsidies.
FDCA is currently lobbying the Federal government to reinstate the funding.