Child Care PlacesNew Staff Ratios May Mean Fewer Childcare Places
Will you be affected?

In The Australian newspaper late last month President of the Australian Child Care Alliance, Ms Gwynn Bridge said the Government's changes to staff ratios will almost inevitably mean the loss of child care places for children under two.

Within two years, all childcare centres will need to hire at least one carer for every four babies and toddlers younger than two and child care workers without formal qualifications will no longer be able to work in long day care or family day care by 2014, when all centres with at least 25 children must employ at least one early childhood teacher with a university degree.

This all sounds great in terms of the raising of child care standards across the country and outlawing those unscrupulous ones who operate to substandard levels, but with 68 per cent of parents in our recent survey rating their child care facilities and carers as very good or excellent, do we really need to raise the bar or will it simply mean higher fees and fewer places and drive women further out of the workforce?

While some centres voluntarily operate in accordance with the new ratios already, for others it may make places for under twos financially unviable.

Speaking to The Australian, president of the Australian Childcare Alliance, Gwynn Bridge said this was especially likely in Queensland which is required to operate in accordance with state regulations which limit space: Queensland has restricted group sizes in its regulations, and cannot add staff or children because they physically do not have the room.

Ms Bridge said centres would lose about six places each; which could lead to about 8,400 places lost across the state.

In our Annual Child Care Survey, 25 per cent of working women said that child care was (already) not financially viable, but that they were simply working to maintain their career. Will the new changes potentially push these women back out of the workforce?

The balancing act is becoming ever more difficult and while we see rebates increased on the one hand to ease the financial strain, legislation meaning higher fees sends us plummeting back down to earth with a bang and with the maternity leave debate very obviously not being debated at the moment it's hard to see how women are actually being encouraged back to the workforce!

Nicole Wales, who sends her sons -- Eamon, three months, and two-year-old William -- to Berry Cottage, is appalled by the move to raise the standards of child care. She said to the Australian: "We've had no issues with the quality of childcare provided," she said. "Why make changes that will just make it more unaffordable?"

Here is a link to the DEEWR site that provides an overview for parents of the new standards. For more over all information click here

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