Child Care and Babies
The high cost of providing care for babies has some childcare centres considering closing down their baby rooms. Other operators are calling for more support from the government in the form of higher subsidies for the care of babies in order to maintain places and create incentive for facilities to make more.
National Child Care Reforms
Under national reforms to childcare that were introduced in January, the ratio of babies per carer was reduced to 4-to-1. This has created a cost crisis for facilities, as the government funds the educator caring for four babies at the same rate as one educator looking after 11 older children.
Additionally, carers have to meet higher qualification standards, with workers required to have at least a Certificate 3 or Diploma qualification in child care. As a result, many childcare operators have been forced to consider closing their baby rooms because the cost of providing care for children aged 0-2 is unsustainable. Some facilities have had to subsidise the cost of baby care themselves, because parents were not able to afford to pay more.
Gwynn Bridge is the chief executive of the Australian Childcare Alliance which represents the majority of private child care providers in Australia. She believes the government needs to increase benefits and subsidies for providing care to babies in order to help families and providers.
Child Care Assistance and Reforms
Kate Ellis, Childcare Minister, said that the government had already increased childcare assistance for children of all ages as part of the national reforms to make childcare more affordable. She believes that many services will choose to offer more spots for babies because they know it will attract families who will continue to use the service for up to 5 years.
She stated the higher standards of care required for childcare across Australia would ensure that each child will get the important one-on-one care and attention they need during the years when 90 per cent of their brain development is occurring. Minister Ellis maintains that the goals for the sector are realistic and allows them time to adjust as the new quality standards are phased in over 10 years.