For the past four years Goodstart, Australia’s largest not-for-profit early learning provider, has kept fee increases below the sector average in a bid to ensure all Australia’s children can access the critical learning they need in the years before school.
Goodstart’s Head of Advocacy John Cherry said the organisation had made affordability a priority without compromising on quality.
“With financial pressures on families only increasing over the last 12 months, keeping early learning services affordable is more important than ever to give children continued access to quality early education and parents the opportunity to get back into the workforce,” he said.
“As a not-for-profit we’re for ensuring all children have access to the learning they deserve in the years before school.
“It was important that we took the time to really listen to the needs of our 60,000 families, and as a result we were one of the first large early learning providers to stop charging fees for public holidays, saving families up to 10 days of fees a year.
“We’ve also introduced flexible sessions to minimise out-of-pocket costs for families, ensuring their children have access to the learning they need while supporting the flexibility families need.
“Our dedicated Additional Child Care Subsidy (ACCS) team also works alongside families to help them optimise their childcare subsidy, and we provide a 25 per cent discount for up to four weeks of holiday leave a year as well.”
Mr Cherry said Goodstart had taken other extra measures to keep early learning accessible and affordable for families, particularly when regions were experiencing lockdown periods.
This included the introduction of Goodstart@Home, an online at-home learning and activity portal provided for free to all Goodstart families and for only $1 per month to all other families; holding fees at current rates during COVID-19 lockdown periods; and waiving gap fees when children have been unable to attend due to government restrictions.
But while Goodstart continues to take steps to allow families more access to early learning, Mr Cherry said the organisation continued to advocate to government on affordability.
“We are calling on the Federal Government to help make the Child Care Subsidy more widely available to Australian families,” Mr Cherry said.
“The current subsidies have not kept up with increases in the cost of care within the sector, and out-of-pocket costs for families continue to rise.
“With an increase in subsidies from the government, families can ensure their children have uninhibited access to quality early learning that sets them up for school and life, and parents will find it easier to return to the workforce.”