Member for McEwan says more needs to be done to reduce ECEC fees post COVID-19
Member for McEwen Rob Mitchell has called on the Federal Government to intervene and reduce the cost for early childhood education and care (ECEC) service provision, and to guarantee no fee increases by services in order to allow families in his electorate to financially recover from the challenges of COVID-19.
Mr Mitchell’s electorate of Wallan-to-Whittlesea in Victoria has one of the largest populations of children aged between birth and five years of age in Australia, many of whom reside in families which have been directly impacted by months of lockdown in 2020 and 2021.
During the lockdown period many families withdrew children from care due to health and safety concerns, restrictions on attendance, or to save money.
“As we recover from the pandemic those families need affordable childcare,” Mr Mitchell told local news source The North Central Review. Instead, he said, “they have been hit with even more annual fee hikes this year”.
Mr Mitchell claims that in February 2021, following a moratorium on fee rises as part of COVID-19 relief packages, fees jumped 2.4 per cent, more than double the rate of inflation.
From 2016 to 2020, childcare fees have increased from $476 per week to $546 in Victoria, he continued. Over the same period nationally, the number of people who were not working because they were caring for children at home due to the cost of childcare increased by 23 per cent.
“The current childcare system is not designed to get everyone back to work. Parents want to go back to work or do more hours but find it just isn’t worth it because they cant afford extra care for their kids,” Mr Mitchell said in closing.
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