- Low and middle income families – where both parents work at least 17 hours per fortnight –can expect to be better off, with increased support for childcare costs from July 1, 2018.
- The legislation will introduce a simpler single Childcare Subsidy replacing the current benefit and rebate.
- It will also introduce a subsidy – paid to childcare centres – based on the fees families actually pay, up to a reasonable market-based fee-cap.
- There is a $327 M safety net for children with identified additional needs or those living in rural, remote and areas of high need.
What could be better?
- Some children will have their access to early learning slashed.
- Currently children from low income families where one parent is not working or studying can access up to 24 hours of early learning a week. Under the proposed changes this will be cut in half to just 12 hours early learning a week (unless they meet the tougher new ‘activity test’).
- For a low income family with a child in a typical childcare centre for two days, this change could cost them up to $16 a week, which a family earning less than $52,000 a year simply cannot afford.
- Families in which both parents are working, but one parent is in casual or irregular work for less than 17 hours per fortnight are likely to be worse off, with less access to subsidised care than they get now.
- The tougher activity test needs to recognise all volunteering activities.
- Centrelink reporting rules must not be too onerous for families whose work, study or volunteering arrangements change often and should help families avoid getting into debt.
Why does access to early learning matter?
Research demonstrates that all children, but especially children in need, benefit from at least 15 hours (about two days) of early learning per week to ensure they are ready for school and ready to learn.
Click here to learn more about the benefits of high quality early learning.
Instead of slashing access to kids in need, the Government should bring Australia in line with nations like the UK and NZ who are offering up to 20 hours per week of early learning for all children over three while also ensuring younger children in need have access to early learning.
What can you do?
Help us convince the Government and the Senate that while this is a good package for working families that with some minor improvements it could be become a great package for Australian children – if we look after children from low income households.
Sign our petition to ask the Senate to Play Nice with Early Learning and pass an improved families package that ensures access to quality and affordable early learning for all Australian children and their families.