It’s around this time of year, February-March onwards depending on your circumstances, that most families are slugged with childcare fees twice what they are during the first part of the year.
The Child Care Rebate, 50 per cent of your childcare fee capped at $7,500 per child, tends to run out well before the end of the financial year for most families.
Child care costs are a critical issue for working families, and according to a report by the ABC analysing figures from the Education Department, it’s major factor in marginal seats.
That’s no surprise.
Affordable and quality child care is what allows (mostly) women to work and to support their families, as well as stay connected to the workforce and increase their future earnings power and superannuation.
It’s also a critical part of our nation’s productivity – if only one parent for each family works, it would have a massive downward impact on our economy.
But mostly, child care is just really bloody expensive and families are looking for a bit more help than they’re getting now.
Today, the ALP announced their child care policy.
The Coalition’s existing child care policy announced during the 2015 Budget won’t change between now and the election, a spokesperson for the Government confirmed to Mamamia today.
Here’s everything you need to know.
Simplifying the system.
Anyone involved in child care knows that the child care subsidies are complicated to understand, apply for and administer.
The Coalition’s policy rolls both the Child Care Rebate (available to all families with children in approved child care) of 50 per cent of fees capped at $7,500 and the Child Care Benefit (a means tested payment available to low income earners to provide further assistance) into one.
It applies a means test to that one payment for higher income earners. The means test kicks in at a family income of $65,710 (we’re not making that number up – that’s direct from the Department of Education. We know, it’s a bit strange) and tapers off gradually to a subsidy of 20 per cent for families with an income of $340,000 or more.
The Coalition’s policy removes the choice to have the rebate paid annually or quarterly to families or direct to early childhood education centres each fortnight, and pays the subsidy directly to child care centres. This is not critical but will be a change for some parents.
Labor’s policy does not propose reform to the payments system.
Mostly, it's just really bloody expensive and families are looking for a bit more help.
Increases to payments.
Both the Labor party and the Coalition are proposing increases to payments.
The Labor Party today promised to increase the cap on the Child Care Rebate to $10,000 per child. That's an additional $2,500 for each child to help families pay for early childhood education.
The Labor Party also promised to increase the Child Care Benefit, stating that low and middle income earners could expect up to an extra $31 a week. Depending on your circumstances, this would be mean recipients would be up to $3254 a year better off.