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Availability, quality, caring: grants for more childcare places

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Printed and authorised by Senator Christine Milne, Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600. Page 1 of 1

The old parties know that these problems exist, but they won’t commit to the funding that is urgently needed to create more childcare places and keep fees down.

The Greens believe that Australian parents should not be expected to shoulder the burden of finding and affording quality childcare. Helping childcare providers to open and expand is a vital way to help families with the childcare options they are entitled to expect.

> HELPING CHILDCARE CENTRES TO GROW WHERE THEY ARE MOST NEEDED Parents around the country are facing long waiting lists and childcare centre closures, while the number of available places is shrinking and fees are growing.

We consistently hear about mothers who enrol their child into a centre as soon as they fall pregnant. When it’s time to return to work, there isn’t a place available and that means either burdening grandparents or missing out on career opportunities.

The Greens’ scheme for a Capital Grants Fund will allow community and not-for-profit centres to build new childcare centres, or expand and improve existing ones.

By committing a total of $200 million over four years from 1 July 2014, we will be able to give centres the ability to provide the care and flexible options that parents need. The fund will be administered by the relevant Government department and will be available upon application for:

 improving facilities and expanding existing services;

 planning and building new centres; and

 expanding services that address existing high-needs areas, e.g. inner-urban areas with highest pressure on places, as well as rural and regional services.

> OPENING UP MORE CHILDCARE PLACES FOR MORE FAMILIES The lack of available childcare places is a growing crisis across Australia. A Greens’ poll run in early 2013 showed that 67% of parents responding to the poll had had difficulties getting or keeping a childcare place.

Out of over a thousand parents who responded to the poll, of whom most were mothers, 79% said that difficulties finding childcare always or sometimes impacted their ability to work. We know that 45% of the women now in the workforce who have young children, returned to work before their youngest child has turned one.

i Given the inequalities and financial

challenges that already face women in the workforce and in retirement, the Greens believe that the situation must be urgently turned around.

The problem of availability is even more extreme in places like inner city Melbourne and Sydney. A study by the Greens in the federal seat of Melbourne recently found some centres had more than 300 families on their waiting list, and only 3% of centres had vacancies for babies. The Capital Grants Fund will be effective because it is targeted to the type of care with the highest need in the places under the most pressure.

> AFFORDABLE CHILDCARE IS ESSENTIAL FOR OUR COMMUNITY The fees being paid by parents have increased at three times the general rate of inflation since 2009

ii . Increasing childcare

availability will keep fees down and open up more places at competitive rates. The Greens are standing up to keep costs down for parents around the country.

i , Stephanie Peatling, Childcare is no child’s play, The Age, 5 August 2013 ii Megalogenis, G. and Gosper, S. (2012), ‘Social Revolution at work’ The Australian, 31 October 2012 p.1.

AVAILABILITY, QUALITY, CARING GRANTS FOR MORE CHILDCARE PLACES The Greens’ Capital Grants Fund to build and expand childcare centres

Australian families are struggling to find the quality and affordable childcare they need. Years-long waiting lists for places are blowing out across the country. Meanwhile, quality local childcare centres have not got the means to keep up and grow.