Predictions that more than a third of parents will cut down days on return to CCS
Results from a survey conducted by advocacy group The Parenthood have indicated that at least 44 per cent of parents with children currently enrolled in education and care services have had their income reduced since measures were brought in to combat COVID-19, and that more than a third will be forced to reduce days or remove their children altogether when out-of-pocket fees return along with child care subsidy (CCS).
In less than 48 hours more than 1,300 parents completed the survey which gave them the opportunity to give feedback on the changes to childcare funding models in recent times, with the results confirming that a return to CCS, as flagged by the Federal Government, would impact around half of those surveyed.
“For the majority of parents who have had their income drop due to COVID-19, they report they’d be forced to reduce days or remove their child or children from care altogether – just when they’re trying to find their feet again in this new uncertain job market,” Georgie Dent, The Parenthood’s National Campaign Director said.
The findings, Ms Dent continued, “illustrate how significantly different the financial situation is for so many families right now compared to a few months ago.”
Many of those surveyed (73 per cent) said the decision by the Government to make access to education and care fee free for parents had had a positive impact on household finances. Just under half of the respondents (44 per cent) indicated that this measure was timely, given a loss of income in the family due to COVID-19.
For some respondents (17 per cent) both income earners in the household had seen a reduction in income, with Ms Dent predicting that the impact on workforce participation as a result of COVID-19 will largely sit with women, 66 per cent of whom reported that they would be the partner who would reduce their hours of work or stop work altogether should they no longer be able to afford care.
The bulk of those who responded to the survey have been able to keep their children in some form of early childhood education and care (ECEC) for the same amount of days as they had prior to this crisis.
Survey respondents were also asked about their experiences in gaining additional days of care for their children once the change in fee structure was announced. One in ten respondents who attempted to access additional care were denied, according to The Parenthood.
“Almost 80 per cent of parents said that even before COVID-19 they had considered whether it was worth working full-time at all because of the cost of childcare,” Ms Dent added.
“Considering the scale of job losses and income reductions now being experienced the fees will simply become prohibitive and the activity test will further punish families where one or more parents have lost work.”
Ms Dent said that the survey results indicate that ECEC services may not be able to operate viably if a third of families pull their children from care, which in turn, she believes, could result in “mass closures” which place Australia’s economic future – in both the short and long term – in jeopardy.
The Parenthood is urging the government to extend the relief package with a number of key amendments to ensure family day services can operate, increase the subsidy paid to centres and ensure workers ineligible for JobKeeper are offered assistance.
To learn more about their campaign, please see here.