Struggling families call for help
Australian families are delaying having more children and postponing buying houses as more and more people hit the Child Care Rebate cap and have to pay the full cost of care.
Figures released this week show families would be paying between $138 and $223 a day in childcare costs by 2020 unless there is a change in government rebates. The Department of Education figures show costs will increase by more than five per cent each year for the next four years.
A survey of more than 2000 families, commissioned by Goodstart Early Learning, found families are struggling to cope with the cost of childcare.
It found 55 per cent of respondents would do more work and study if the current $7500 cap on the rebate was lifted.
It also found more than half of the respondents had run out of rebate support before the end of June this year, highlighting a growing childcare affordability crisis that is gripping families as the childcare reforms continue to languish in Parliament.
Goodstart’s advocacy manager John Cherry said the passage of the legislation was becoming increasingly urgent.
The Child Care Rebate cap has been frozen at $7,500 (2008) levels, under successive governments, failing to take into account rising costs of living and stagnant wages over the same period.
More than 110,000 families, or about one in six in long day care centres, are expected to exceed the cap this year.
And increases in childcare fees will just add to the situation.
“This survey shows Australian families are struggling to meet the cost of childcare with more than half left without support because the rebate has not kept pace with their out of pocket costs,” Mr Cherry said.
“In 2008, the $7500 cap covered 50 weeks of childcare for a family using a typical service full time. By 2016, that fell to about 30 weeks of childcare.
“That means that families face a doubling of their out of pocket costs for many more weeks of the year, putting a serious strain on the family budget.
“The survey findings on the lives of more than 2000 families sends a clear message to Australian politicians that it’s vital the Jobs for Families childcare reform package is passed urgently.”
Most families hit the cap in April (22 per cent) with a further 19 per cent running out of support in either March or May.
Hitting the cap in March for a family with two children in care five days a week paying the Australian average daily cost of childcare ($90 per day) means finding $14,400 for the quarter.