In home care changes too little, too late: AHCA
Changes to the child care subsidy (CCS), designed to facilitate easier access to in home care (IHC) were announced late last week by Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan, and have been met with a response of “too little, too late” by the Australian In Home Care Association (AHCA).
Mr Tehan billed the changes to the CCS as a way for families in rural and remote areas, shift workers, or those with complex needs to “find it easier to get childcare support in their homes”, saying that the Federal Government will provide $44.5 million to increase the CCS for families using IHC, as well as increasing the number of places by 200 to 3,200.
The family hourly rate cap will increase from $25.48 to $32.00 per hour, and the additional CCS rate will increase from $30.58 to $38.40, effective 1 January 2019.
AHCA President Nicola Morgan said that while the AHCA welcomed the acknowledgement that a significant problem exists, the move to increase funding and places was “simply too little, too late”.
Ms Morgan said the changes will not solve the crisis caused by the withdrawal of funding which occurred with the transition to the CCS, saying AHCA members “provide vital care to families in the most distressful (sic) situations throughout Australia, who have been without care after the funding rug was pulled from under them with changes introduced in July this year”.
AHCA said that the solution proposed by Mr Tehan would not bring families back into care and would lead to further closures by operators.
Multiple perspectives of families affected by the changes to CCS and their impact on IHC have been shared in the broader media, including many stories of children with additional needs who are no longer receiving the same level of support from carers and are facing unaffordable gap fees.
Mr Tehan said the changes to IHC funding were based on the feedback the Government had received from families and providers, adding that the Federal Government “recognises the importance of IHC to the families who can’t access other types of child care because of their circumstances”.
He added that the new rate cap “balances the needs of families to access affordable education and care with the interests of providers” saying the Government would continue to monitor the impact of the CCS rate caps on families and services as part of the new childcare package evaluation.
Mr Tehan’s announcement was welcomed by New South Wales Family Day Care Association CEO Anita Jovanovski, who said IHC was a unique type of education and care for families who cannot access standard child care.
“An IHC educator may be looking after four children in the one home, a subsidy of $32 per hour will enable the services that engage the educator to cover their costs, [and] will enable the educator to be more fairly recompensed, but above all will make IHC more affordable for the families who need it.” Ms Jovanovski said.
“Families who use IHC are often desperately in need of the education and care IHC supplies. They may have challenging or complex needs such as disability or serious illness of a family member, be geographically isolated or work non-standard hours. Providing an increase in the rate means these families out of pocket fees will now be affordable,” she added in closing.