As the new Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education and Development, not to mention the mum of a two-and-a-half-year-old, the number one question on my mind is – how do we achieve quality early years education and care that is accessible, affordable, and that meets the needs of Australian families?
That, in essence, is what families want for our child care system.
I am concerned the new changes are going to leave hundreds of thousands of families worse off. We know this is the case as budget figures confirm it.
Therefore, as the Minister has done, I too would encourage you to check what the changes to the system mean for you and your family as you could be of the 279,000 families who stand to be worse off.
A lot of the commentary has suggested that the only worse off families will be wealthy families. However, the analysis shows those families who will be worse off are actually in the two lowest income brackets.
The new system is so complex it might be hard to work out where your family fits in. But, briefly, you need to know how the following three criteria affect you and your family:
1. The type of child care service your family uses.
As it stands, this is split into three groups, Long Day Care and Occasional Care; Family Day Care; and, Outside School Hours Care. Depending on which of these your family access will determine the rate you are subsidised.
2. The new activity test.
The amount of work related activity you do per hour will determine how much subsidy of care you are eligible for. These have to be ‘approved activities’ in order to ensure eligibility to access the child care subsidy each fortnight.
I have serious concerns that many families will not be able to meet the requirements of this test because approved activities will be measured over each fortnight, a time frame which is arbitrary and inflexible for many families.