There are some big changes on the way in childcare.
The Federal Government is considering big changes to the childcare system and has announced a new pilot program to subsidise nannies for working families.
The program is aimed at parents who have difficulty fitting in with mainstream childcare: shift workers like nurses and police officers, those whose children have special needs, and people living in rural areas. It’s restricted to families making less than $250,000.
The nannies have to be attached to an approved service (to stop people from paying their own family members), be at least 18, hold a first-aid certificate, and have passed a working-with-children check.
The pilot program is set to start in January next year, and is aimed at subsidising nannies for 10,000 children over the two years it runs.
Okay, so you can pick holes in it. The nannies don't need to have any early childhood qualifications, so they might not provide the same standard of care as childcare workers. Parents might ask the nannies to do some housework in their quiet moments, which would mean they'd effectively be getting free housekeepers. Childcare centres might have staffing issues if their workers quit to become nannies.
But it's a start. Some thinking has gone into it. It's trying to help working parents who need help. It could open up more jobs for nannies. It's definitely better than shoveling money at the most highly paid working mums.
That's not the only big news today about childcare, though. The Government is looking at introducing an "activity test" for childcare subsidies in the upcoming budget. That means that parents would have to prove they're working or studying over a certain set of hours to get the childcare benefit and childcare rebate. Parents on welfare are likely to be hardest hit, with Early Childhood Australia estimating that up to 100,000 low-income families could miss out.