Childcare costs, the increasing burden of government regulation and the availability of quality teachers and carers were all topics of discussion at a Childcare Forum hosted by Federal Member for Aston, Alan Tudge MP.
Dozens of interested parents and childcare providers came to hear from special guests Shadow Minister for Childcare and Early Childhood Learning Sussan Ley MP and Mr Frank Cusmano CEO Child Care Centres Association of Victoria.
There were a number of key issues discussed at the forum including:
1. The rising costs of childcare adding to the cost of living for Knox families. Childcare costs have risen by 20% over the past 5 years. It is forecast to grow by a further 20% as a result of the government forcing centres to hire more qualified staff and lowering carer to child ratios. Ms Ley said that that the Coalition would have a full Productivity Commission inquiry this.
2. The lack of qualified childcare workers under the Government’s new National Quality Framework. Mr Cusmano said that Victoria would be short around 500-600 properly qualified Childcare Workers, forcing up prices or potentially forcing some centres to close.
3. Three Year old kinders facing closures because government mandated hours for four year old kinder. As a result of the government mandating 15 hours a week for four year old kinders, many three year old kinders have been put in jeopardy.
4. The critical need for more occasional childcare funding. The federal government cut the funding for Occasional Care putting in jeopardy programs such as Orana’s in Wantirna. Ms Ley said that there was an important need in the community for access to childcare on a casual basis. She committed to reinstating funding for occasional care across Australia if the Coalitions forms government after the next election.
Mr Tudge said that the forum played an important role in both informing local parents of the issues facing childcare while also giving them a voice to express their opinions and concerns.
“Parents are continually telling me they are concerned about the growing cost of childcare around Knox,” Mr Tudge said.
“The increased costs are nearly entirely due to government regulation.”
“There is still strong concern about the viability of three year old kinders given the new 15 hour rules for 4 year old programs. This is something I have been campaigning on for two years now.
“I will continue to speak on behalf of parents and providers in parliament and push the government to ensure quality childcare at a price that Knox parents can afford,” he said.