Shepparton families can’t go back to work because of a lack of ECEC options
The Sector > Economics > Affordability & Accessibility > Shepparton families can’t go back to work because of a lack of ECEC options

Shepparton families can’t go back to work because of a lack of ECEC options

by Freya Lucas

September 26, 2022

Families in the Victorian city of Shepparton have taken to local media to share their concerns about the lack of available early childhood education and care (ECEC) services, which they say is hampering their return to work. 


Services in the region are either short staffed or over capacity, leaving many families unable to access work. One single mother, who wished to remain anonymous, said her career as a teacher is on hold thanks to a combination of long waiting lists, and her challenges with the Child Care Subsidy and how hours are allocated. 


“There’s always been a day-care shortage,” she explained. 


“People have had to put their names on wait lists for day-care centres for many years and often have not had a choice where to go as they can only go where there is space,” something she said is “tricky” when a particular centre may not be a good fit for the child or family, but is taken out of necessity. 


In response, she believes there is much more to be done at all levels of Government to address what she termed “the recurring issue.” 


“The local, state or national governments could help to speed up the process of building the new day-care centres by maybe using census data to help plan for the future needs in certain areas,” she said.


“Maybe make the process easier to create new day-care centres or make it more appealing.I have also been told they’re struggling to get enough qualified staff in day-care centres so maybe making courses more easily accessible, particularly in areas of need. Maybe access to more family day care?”


Although the mother in question is eligible for 36 hours of ECEC each fortnight, many of the ECEC services offer care in 12 hour blocks, which means an eligibility of three days each fortnight. 


“That ended up being one day a week, as they won’t do one day one week and two days the alternate week,” she explained. 


“I had to be working more hours before I was entitled to more day-care (had to be more than 16 hours), but as a teacher, our days are not considered eight-hour days (despite us working longer than eight hours), and therefore I couldn’t work more without more day-care. It was a stalemate.”


While some services offer nine hour days, where children cannot be dropped off before 8 am and must be collected before 5 pm, none in Shepparton offer this model, which the mother said was problematic. 


“As it stands, next year, I may have to pay full fees (not covered by childcare subsidy) or give up my day-care position except one day a week if I am unable to secure a three day a week contract with my back up plan to do relief teaching,” she said.


To read local coverage of this story please see here

Download The Sector's new App!

ECEC news, jobs, events and more anytime, anywhere.

Download App on Apple App Store Button Download App on Google Play Store Button