Survey Results

Child Care & Workforce Participation Annual Survey



For close to 15 years® has been supporting Australian families to find high quality child care when and where they need it.

Every year we ask the community to tell us their experiences with the Australian child care system and how they juggle the competing pressures of home and work life.

The results offer an interesting snapshot of the Australian child care landscape, what's working, what's not and potential new directions moving forward.


This is our 13th annual survey and it was completed by 1,845 people in April, 2018.


The 'norm'

The main reason parents and carers use care is to attend work or study (88 per cent) with just 12 per cent saying they used child care to provide social interaction for the kids, time out for the carer or another reason.

The survey showed that 61 per cent of kids start child care when they are between 7-18 months old and 74 per cent of kids are in child care three or more days per week with 86 per cent there for seven or more hours per day.

Most families (74 per cent) rely on one type of child care and typically that service is long day care (78 per cent), however families also said they use grandparents, outside school hours care and family day care. Interestingly a full 78 per cent of respondents claimed that care provided by grandparents should also be eligible for the rebates.


73 per cent of respondents were able to secure the care they wanted and while 61 per cent of parents said they found the experience of looking for care good or very good the remaining 39 per cent said they found the process difficult or extremely difficult and frustrating.

62 per cent of respondents said they went on one or more waitlists and for 86 per cent of parents this incurred a cost of between $0-$60 per waitlist!

The cost!


72 per cent of families are paying between $80-$220 per day before the CCB and CCR

Despite these figures a full 71 per cent of respondents believe their child care service provides good value for money.

The cost of child care is still a huge issue and while 63 per cent of families rate their early childhood provider as excellent, 72 per cent of families are paying between $80-$220 per day before the CCB and CCR were applied, which for most families (66 per cent) equates to 10-30 per cent of family income. 8 per cent of survey respondents told us they pay more than $200 per day.

Despite these figures a full 71 per cent of respondents believe their child care service provides good value for money.

The good news is that 85 per cent of families say they have figured out the current CCB/CCR system and are claiming what they are eligible for – the bad news is the system changes on 2 July and we’ve all got to adjust to a new way of doing things.

While most survey respondents (79 per cent) told us they are aware that the Singe Child Care Subsidy replaces the current CCB and CCR in July, 62 per cent are unclear about how they will be impacted by the change.

Which care are you using?


This year we also asked parents whether they would be interested in booking occasional or sessional care in long day care centres on an as-needs basis, close to 70 per cent expressed an interest in this flexible form of care.

We also asked parents to tell us whether education or play should be the focus in early childhood settings and 67 said the emphasis should most definitely be on play based learning.


An important part of our annual survey is to try and gain greater understanding into how working parents achieve balance between their professional and personal responsibilities.

Balancing life as a working parent

Disappointingly only 7 per cent of respondents said the employer helps staff find child care but a solid 77 per cent said their employer was either flexible or very flexible in their approach to working parents. To that end 66 per cent of respondents have asked for flexible work options and 73 per cent of those requests were approved.

Sadly 68 per cent of working parents felt they had been discriminated against by other parents, colleagues or family and friends when they returned to work after having a child.

Sometimes feel like things are spiralling out of control? Join the club! 84 per cent of respondents who said they struggle to achieve balance between work and family life at least some or all of the time.

This may in part be due to the fact that the responsibility of managing family commitments such as appointments, sick days and drop offs is shared equally in only 33 per cent of homes, with working mums doing the majority of the work in 52 per cent of households.


What could the government do to improve Australian child care system?

  • The government's new single child care subsidy is an absolute joke and a thankless policy. Even though our family contributes thousands of tax dollars every year, we are now eligible for nothing - no rebate whatsoever. Because of this, I now feel guilty putting my children in care and returning to work because it's just not financially viable for me and makes the burden that much heavier
  • Pay child care workers more -- these people are amazing and we trust them every day with our most prized assets.
  • Get fathers more involved in rearing the family and taking time off by allowing equal paternity leave.
  • Make long day care more flexible: use occasional care model.
  • Increase the recognition and remuneration of child care workers by making a greater financial contribution to their salaries and by making the costs of child care tax deductible.
  • Have a free centralized waiting lists for child care (it’s ridiculous that you can put your kid on a wait list before they are born) so you don’t have to put your name down for each individual centre
  • Impose greater sanctions on employers who fail to provide flexible work arrangements for employees returning from parental leave which would place less demand on CC centres.
  • Open child care centres 24/7 for shift workers who work 24/7, open centres at work places.
  • Pay parental leave for at least 9 months so babies get a much better foundation with their families before parents have to go back to work.
  • Have both private (paid for) and state (free) child care like they do for schools. Parents can have a choice of whether to pay for a private service or opt for a government run centre!
  • No charge to parents for Public Holidays. Child care is a Service - We are made to pay for a service which is not available on Public Holidays.
  • Remove the pressures on EC educators to teach the Exceeding level of care. Sure, the NQF serves as a valuable tool but I believe it takes up to much time - time that educators could be playing with and teaching children.
  • Provide benefits to the amazing grandparents who look after our children.
  • Cease the constant burden of documentation and paperwork. With every new "system" comes more burden and less focus on the actual care and education of our children.
  • Child care workers, particularly the not for profit and council run centres, do a phenomenal job. Their pay and conditions do not accurately reflect the critical work they do and they should be given the reimbursement they need for essential service they deliver, at least equivalent to that of other educators or other essential service providers like health professionals.
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