Okay, straight up, I have used Childcare services, on and off, for the past 13 years.
For one reason and one reason only.
So, my first instinct – when I heard about the proposed new childcare policy that the Abbott Government wants to implement, the one where they not only intend to limit available places to parents who don’t work but also stop the subsidisation – was to agree.
To say that, hell yes, if you aren’t at work, then you shouldn’t be given priority over working parents and yes, if you are lucky enough to snare a spot, you most definitely SHOULD pay full price for it.
But then I realised that an inflammatory issue was once again being used as a tool to divide and conquer us not only as parents, but as a nation.
And it’s time for that shit to stop.
I’m not saying that what I’m about to say here will make you all happy, in fact, I’m fairly confident that it won’t, but it is my hope that you will at least give it some consideration. That you, like I have done, will try and see it from the other person’s perspective.
Please don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe that stay at home parents shouldn’t be able to access childcare, they most certainly should. I do believe however, that as it stands, the childcare system (and the accessibility and affordability of it) is fundamentally flawed.
And it has been for a very long time.
So let’s lay out three simple problems:
Childcare allocation, as dictated by the Australian Government and the Department of Education, should be adhered to by Child Care Centres as follows:
• First Priority: a child at risk of serious abuse or neglect
• Second Priority: a child of a single parent who satisfies, or of parents who both satisfy, the work/training/study test under Section 14 of the ‘A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999’
• Third Priority: any other child.
Within these main categories priority should also be given to the following children:
• Children in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families
• Children in families which include a disabled person
• Children in families which include an individual whose adjusted taxable income does not exceed the lower income threshold of $42,997 for 2014-2015, or who or whose partner are on income support
• Children in families from a non-English speaking background
• Children in socially isolated families
• Children of single parents.
Seems fair, yes?
Currently parents who do not work or study, are able to access 24 hours of subsidised care for their child each week.
Childcare Minister Sussan Ley said one of the reasons working parents struggle to find a childcare place for their baby or toddler is because stay-at-home mothers are clogging the system.
Rather than taking a scalpel to the whole arrangement, why not reduce the available subsidized hours for stay at home parents, to 8 hours a week? If parents who aren’t working, studying or actively looking for work WANT to put their children into care after their 8 hours – then, they pay full price, thus reducing the governments costs by two thirds.