Senate Estimates reveal Family Day Care is unfairly targeted says Rishworth
The confirmation that 151 family day care (FDC) services were shut down has been claimed by the Australian Labor Party as evidence that FDC is seen as an opportunity to make savings goals for the Australian Government, a release from Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education and Development, Amanda Rishworth says.
Ms Rishworth’s comments follow parliamentary discussions held last week, in which the Department of Education and Training was questioned by a Western Australian senator about how its mid-year economic and fiscal outlook (MYEFO) savings targets were achieved. The Government had earlier announced a savings target of $1 billion over the 4 years from 2017-2018 through increased compliance efforts, to improve the integrity of payments to family day care services, in line with changes to the child care subsidy, which commenced 2 July 2018.
When asked how the Department was implementing the 2017-18 MYEFO compliance program, department officials confirmed:
SENATOR FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA, SUE LINES: So was the 151 services a target that you had to close?
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION OFFICIAL: That is what we costed and the new policy measure that was supported.
LINES: What do you mean that’s what you costed?
OFFICIAL: That’s what we agreed with government. That was the budget of that MYEFO measure in the book.
LINES: That’s what the $1 billion equals.
OFFICIAL: Yes. That’s what we did a calculation on to get $1 billion—that we would get 150, and we got 151
Ms Rishworth raised concerns that the savings achieved by scrutiny on the education sector is detrimental to FDC specifically, saying that the sector is in “freefall, and describing the fact that the Department was asked to close 150 providers, and has now closed 151 as “a remarkable coincidence”.
Statistics from the Department show that the number of children using FDC fell 16.7 per cent over the 12-month span between December 2016 and December 2017, with the number of providers falling 17.3 per cent. Ms Rishworth claims this number includes not-for-profit FDC providers who have been serving their communities for decades, and that these services have been unnecessarily shut down to meet governmental savings targets.