Childcare package needs fixing to protect families
Up to 100,000 low income families could be could be left worse off if the childcare package passes the Senate without amendments to ensure all children can access at least two days of early learning.
Goodstart Early Learning has this morning (March 23) released modelling showing that the Government’s plan to cut the base entitlement to child care assistance for low income families from 24 hours a week to 12 hours a week would leave low income families up to $93 a week worse off.
Goodstart Early Learning Advocacy Manager John Cherry called on the Senate to ensure low income families could access at least 15 hours of early learning, the bare minimum necessary to impact on child development.
“For non-working sole parent families or single income working families, the cut in the base entitlement will mean that many won’t be able to afford to give their children two days of early learning,” Mr Cherry said.
“Evidence shows that children from low income families are twice as likely to children from high income families to start school developmentally behind, but that access to early learning can reduce that risk considerably.
“Yet the Government is proposing to cut the base entitlement for low income families who do not meet the activity test from 24 to 12 hours a week. In a long day care environment, this is not enough to ensure children have access to two days of early learning, and that will have a big impact on children’s development."
“Our modelling shows that some of the most vulnerable families in Australia would be considerably worse off under the Government’s plan.
“Since the Government took office, the proportion of children from low income families attending childcare has fallen from 24 per cent to 21 per cent, with the falls sharpest in rural and regional areas.
“If the child care reform package proceeds unamended, this fall will accelerate and children in rural and regional Australia will fall further behind their metropolitan counterparts.
“The early childhood sector has proposed a compromise to give all children access to at least 15 hours of early learning, which is the minimum necessary to make a difference to a child’s development and learning.
“We call on all parties in the Senate and the Government to amend the childcare package to ensure that it delivers positive outcomes for all Australian children and their families,” he said.