Fears for child­care cost, jobs

Geelong Advertiser - - NEWS - CLARE MASTERS

AC­CESS to child­care ser­vices could be closed off to more fam­i­lies and fees are likely to rise once free child­care ends on Mon­day, it has been claimed.

Ad­vo­cates for early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion say if the fed­eral gov­ern­ment does not in­ter­vene with a new fund­ing model, the sec­tor will see wide­spread shut­downs and pos­si­ble fee rises as ser­vices try to re­coup losses.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s tem­po­rary free child­care pro­gram, pay­ing half the op­er­at­ing costs to providers, was a cri­sis re­sponse to help prop up the sec­tor when COVID-19 hit.

It was em­braced by the par­ents of more than 1.3 mil­lion chil­dren who at­tend early learn­ing ser­vices.

Un­der the new sys­tem par­ents will be asked to pay gap fees again, even though many are on re­duced hours or JobKeeper pay­ments.

Mem­ber for Co­rangamite Libby Coker said she was con­cerned about what this would mean for child­care work­ers across the Geelong, Bel­lar­ine and Surf Coast re­gion.

“Out-of-pocket child­care costs were al­ready crip­pling fam­i­lies pre-pan­demic … ,” Ms Coker said.

“If fam­i­lies pull out of child­care, then providers will scale back their places and re­duce the hours of staff or, worse still, make many work­ers re­dun­dant.”

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