CHILD CARE CHAL­LENGES COM­MU­NITY

Lack of child care fa­cil­i­ties and the re­bate wor­ries the com­mu­nity

Central and North Burnett Times - - FRONT PAGE - Philippe Coquerand philippe.coquerand@cnbtimes.com.au

THE North Bur­nett re­gion is fac­ing a short­age of fam­ily day care cen­tres which is con­cern­ing for young fam­i­lies.

Young par­ent Laura Wren lives in Gayn­dah and said she had to re­turn to work early de­spite be­ing on ma­ter­nity leave.

“We have a good amount of kinder­gartens in the re­gion, it’s just we don’t have enough child care fa­cil­i­ties which is very dis­ap­point­ing,” Mrs Wren said.

She said govern­ment re­bate changes also proved chal­leng­ing.

“The big is­sue cen­trally in the Bur­nett re­gion is the po­ten­tial for the re­bate schemes to end leav­ing par­ents out of pocket.

“This new scheme will mean peo­ple aren’t in­clined to do child care and fam­i­lies may not be able to af­ford it.”

Mrs Wren said child care was an im­por­tant as­set to the com­mu­nity and with­out it, fam­i­lies would strug­gle to work con­sis­tently.

“We need qual­ity child care fa­cil­i­ties in the re­gion as it boosts our chil­dren’s abil­ity as well as qual­ity pro­grams to get the same start to life in ru­ral ar­eas com­pared to met­ro­pol­i­tan ar­eas,” she said.

“Fam­ily day care is im­por­tant to peo­ple of the Bur­nett re­gion, if we aren’t sup­port­ing those who look af­ter our kids then it leads to prob­lems of un­em­ploy­ment.”

Mrs Wren is not alone in

her con­cerns.

The North Bur­nett Re­gional Coun­cil com­piled a re­port in­ves­ti­gat­ing the mat­ter, in­ter­view­ing 63 par­ents.

The re­port found 53% of re­spon­dents were not happy with the cur­rent level of care ser­vices in the Bur­nett.

Over 54% of re­spon­dents have la­belled child care avail­abil­ity as “in­ad­e­quate” with 49% of re­spon­dents

be­liev­ing more care op­tions would re­sult in a “strong in­crease of em­ploy­ment within the North Bur­nett”.

The flex­i­bil­ity of cur­rent child care op­tions has also been “lack­ing” ac­cord­ing to 44% of re­spon­dents to the sur­vey.

Gayn­dah par­ent Re­becca Holden said she felt for­tu­nate to have a work­place who un­der­stood her needs as a par­ent.

“For a town it’s not ap­peal­ing for par­ents to come here be­cause if you don’t have a qual­ity pro­fes­sional day­care, it’s a lot harder,” Mrs Holden said.

“We have a beau­ti­ful day­care (worker) now and she treats our daugh­ter as her own, and she feels ter­ri­ble when she has to turn other par­ents away due to over ca­pac­ity.

“With the re­bate gone, it’s al­most (not worth go­ing back to work) and stay­ing home, as it’d be too ex­pen­sive and all you’re do­ing is work­ing to live.”

Ac­cord­ing to my­child. gov.au, the av­er­age day care fees for North Bur­nett fam­i­lies is $66.50 which is pro­jected to in­crease to $77.02 per day in 2018.

PHOTO: ADAM MCCLEERY

PRESS­ING IS­SUE: Karen Mendoza and Laura Wren with their chil­dren at Lions Park in Gayn­dah.

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