Cumberland Council plans to increase ECEC fees up to 23 per cent
Cumberland Council, located in the western suburbs of Sydney has attracted local media attention for its proposal to increase fees at its 17 early childhood education and care (ECEC) services by up to 23 per cent in the next financial year.
Should the proposal be moved by Council, it will mean that fees for families will raise to around $120 a day, depending on the age of their child.
The proposal would see families with older children, aged between three and five years pay an extra $18 a day while families with children under three would pay an extra $23 a day.
Speaking with local media Cumberland Councillor Lisa Lake expressed concerns over what she termed a “drastic” increase in fees, saying she was fearful that the increases would make ECEC “beyond the financial reach of many local parents”.
Income levels in Western Sydney are amongst some of the lowest in the state, and Councillor Lake indicated that passing on a fee rise which will take effect when people are trying to recover from the economic downturn created by COVID-19 is likely to prove challenging.
In response, Council’s General Manager Hamish McNulty told the publication that the council was subsidising its childcare services to about $13,000 per child for each full time long day care worker, who was “well remunerated”, making the operation of the services “more expensive”.
High standards, Mr McNulty said, “come at a cost, and these costs continue to increase every year.”
In the Council’s Draft Operational Plan for the coming financial year a performance measure of having 100 per cent of children’s services operated by the Council rated at ‘Meeting’ or ‘Exceeding’ the National Quality Standards.
The proposal, Mr McNulty continued, will ensure that the level of subsidy provided by council for these services is one that does not significantly impact other areas of the council’s budget.
Community feedback in relation to the proposal is open until 22 May via the Council’s website.