By KATE ELLIS
A growing population needs community services to grow with it.
It makes sense that if you don’t plan for enough child care centres to meet growing demand from families there will be a shortage of child care places.
That is exactly what has happened in our major cities.
When the Prime Minister and I did a live blog on child care issues with Mamamia readers in June we heard some very clear messages. One mother said:
“I have had my child on wait lists to get into child care centres from before he was born. I am due to go back to work in August and they have all told me I won’t get a placement until next year. I am down on a Family day care list too, and they too have told me not to hold out for that. I can’t afford a nanny’s daily rate, it is more than what I get paid – what …am I going to do come August to pay the rent and feed my child?”
This is a very common cry for help from families’ right around Australia who are struggling to access a child care place.
Although there has been growth in the child care sector, it simply hasn’t kept pace with demand.
I have just released new data based on the recent Census showing that some council areas in Sydney have just one long day care place for every five preschool-aged children. One council has just one place for every 25 children residing in that local government area.
In many of those council areas with the longest waiting lists, you cannot even apply to build a new child care centre if you want more than thirty places in that centre, making it commercially unviable.
This situation isn’t good enough when you consider that child care is no longer used by a small minority of families like it was even 20 years ago.