Educator crisis impacts the OSHC sector as vacation care demand peaks
Families in the nation’s capital are struggling to care for their children during the winter school holiday break as a shortage of educators in the outside school hours care (OSHC) sector impacts.
While the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector is already facing workforce shortages, the dual impact of outbreaks of COVID-19 and the flu have further impacted, with up to 500 families missing out on school holiday care, creating impacts to ACT businesses as parents take leave or reschedule shifts to provide care.
Canberra’s largest ECEC provider, Communities At Work, received more than 6,000 applications for ECEC, but only 5,500 children were offered places because the provider had to impose caps on programs due to workforce shortages.
“We have around 600 staff members in the ACT,” Ms Maiden told the ABC.
“If we use every staff member and educator we have to fill these positions, it just takes one or two of them to be sick and we can’t replace them,” she explained.
“It is quite a challenge to make sure we have adequate resourcing for all these school holiday programs.”
Canberra Business Chamber chief executive Graham Catt said parents taking time off during school holidays, combined with the high rates of illness, is having a major impact on businesses, with small businesses particularly affected.
Absenteeism is on the rise, with 30 per cent of workers calling in sick on any given day. Brooke McBain is one of the many parents who finds it difficult to source care for her son during school holidays.
“I’m lucky I work part-time and that I have the ability to take time off with him,” Ms McBain said. “I can understand it’s pretty challenging for parents who can’t get that time off and childcare.”
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