Overseas grandparents flying in to babysit when cost, accessibility problems arise.

By Jana Black

When Meetu Rajput returned to work following the birth of her son, Jay, she and her husband found the cost and accessibility of child care an issue.

For the Rajput family, that meant turning to family in India for support.

Retish and Meetu Rajput rotate between Mr Rajput’s parents and Mrs Rajput’s parents to look after their children.

Each pair of grandparents spend a chunk of the year in Australia to help ease the burden of child rearing in the two-parent full-time working era.

“I feel that they’ve played a very important role in our kids’ development … both of them (the children) can connect to where their parents come from,” Mrs Rajput said.

Mrs Rajput said when she returned to work, she and her husband had to think outside to box to find care for their children.

“Then we started thinking … will it be a good idea to call our parents to support us at this time?” Mr Rajput said.

Many families using grandparents for support

The Rajputs are just one of many families who are turning to creative child-minding solutions, to help fill the gaps created by cost and availability issues.

Australia’s most recent census data showed that of the 523,300 Australian women who were mothers to children under the age of two, 39 per cent had returned to work.

Of those women, 79 per cent used at least one type of informal care.

About 27 per cent left their children in the care of grandparents, 26 per cent with their partner, and 23 per cent used long daycare centres.

Parents can claim 50 per cent of out-of-pocket childcare costs up to the value of $7,500 per child, per financial year when they use formal care.


But not-for-profit group The Parenthood said even with government subsidies and rebates, childcare costs and accessibility were still weighing parents down.

“At the moment the system is really structured in a way that limits the time to at least three days a week for families — unless they are happy to meet the cap, and then [they] are forced to pay full fees for child care,” director Jo Briskey said.

And according to predictions from the Department of Social Services made last financial year, the costs of long day care were expected to increase 7.3 per cent by July 2017.

So what other solutions are available?

[email protected] CEO Lorcan Murphy said the childcare industry was working to shake off the shackles of its past.

Mr Murphy acknowledged that some parts of Canberra still experienced more demand, but he said overall there was availability.

“The biggest myth in the market is that there’s still a lack of supply, when in fact now all evidence would point to an underutilisation of services across Canberra,” Mr Murphy said.

He said it was also important that parents understood what options were available to them, as formal child care was not the only answer.

“Family day care is where the educator takes the child into their home, it’s a much [smaller] ratio,” he said.

“It’s a more intimate environment and it tends to be more flexible for working parents and working arrangements.”

This post originally appeared on ABC News.

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