Over one million Aussie children under the age of twelve are in some form of child care. We have the fast facts on what the child care changes will mean for you. For parents the top child care concerns are are generally quality, accessibility and affordability: Will my child be safe, loved and educated? Will I be able to get my child into a centre near work or home that we like? Will I be able to have more than the price of a take away coffee left over after I pay for child care?
The women’s labour rate has continued to rise from 52% in the 80’s to 70.4% in 2011 and it is not uncommon to read about sighting of unicorns, oh sorry, I mean, Stay at Home Dads (OhhhMyyyGwwward that was unfair, my best friend’s husband is a SAHD). It’s not only the bubble skirts and shoulder pads we wanted to leave behind in the 80’s, but those archaic views of women and work. But the government hasn’t turned all Germain Greer, their altruism extends to the OECD benchmarking of women’s labour participation rates, and by comparison Australia is a little bit crap. They also have twigged that more women working of course means more tax payers and contributors to the economy. Oh what’s that I hear? The early years are the most important educational years in a child’s life. Oh yeah, there’s our National Quality Framework for Education, so we’ve talked about it, ok? That may or may not be a direct quote from the Minister responsible for child care, Scott Morrison.
Enough frivolity, here are some key facts about the Australian Federal Government’s childcare package and remember, don’t get too excited. Unless the Senate pass the other budget changes they have been trying to for the last year to match the same cost savings required to fund the child care package, we won’t see the full package realised. Ironically the cost savings are cutting the Family Tax Benefits scheme to single-income families with children under the age of six.Will the full changes ever pass the senate? Well, I think it’s like asking your 4 year old boy if he would like the latest Transformer? If he says yes, it will mean he has to sell all his other toys on ebay. You just know it’s going to be painful if you don’t live up to your promise there will be a lot of whinging, but if it comes through then there will also be losers.
Here is how it could affect you:
-The child care package will not come into full force until July 2017 and is contingent on other cost savings being passed by the Senate
-The package is worth $3.5 billion
-Tony’s Abbott’s signature Paid Parental Leave Scheme is no more. In its place is a plan the polar opposite, which actually takes money away. Go figure! Basically the government is suggesting if you obtain Parental Leave from your employer you cannot access the government’s paid parental leave scheme. Treasurer Joe Hockey suggests that is “double-dipping”. Mr Hockey revealed almost 80,000 new mothers will lose access to some or all of the federal government’s existing paid parental leave scheme from July 2016.
Stay at Home Parents
If you earn under $65,000 you will be entitled to 12 hours a week of subsidised child care. Over $65,000 and you will miss out.
-The current Child Care Benefit, Child Care Rebate and Jobs, Education and Training Child Care Fee Assistance programs will be rolled into a single payment and means tested on a sliding scale. For households with incomes of up to approximately $65,000, the subsidy will be 85% per child of the actual child care fee or the benchmark price ($110), whichever is lower. This will drop to 50% for incomes of approximately $170,000 and above
-If your income is under $185,000 you will no longer have a cap on the subsidy you can receive.
– High income families will have their rebate capped to $10,000 per year
– The government has set a new benchmark price for child care at $110/day or $9/hour. This means you just can’t get the subsidy for child care over this amount. It does not mean services in areas of high demand won’t continue charging $160/day.
– A two-year, $250 million pilot program trialling Nannies will be introduced if other savings can be passed through the Senate. The Pilot targets shift workers and parents in regional areas with a combined annual income of up to $250,000 who cannot already access mainstream child care and would service approximately 10,000 children by 4,000 nannies. The Nannies will not be required to have any minimum childcare qualifications.
But the question is, with all these changes will you still be able to get your child into a subsidised child care service? Probably not. The reforms should have mandated child care enrolment forms with pregnancy testing kits.