PAYING $100 a day for childcare in Sydney’s inner suburbs is fast becoming the norm, fuelling calls for the federal government to pay the childcare rebate weekly instead of quarterly.Almost a third of parents pay more than $80 a day in fees, compared with one in five last year, and 15 per cent in 2008, according to the Annual Child Care and Workforce Participation Survey conducted by the childcare resource website Care for Kids.And a Sun-Herald poll of 20 childcare centres in Sydney offering places for children aged 0-2 found fees of more than $100 a day were not unusual.Care for Kids founder Roxanne Elliott said the survey of 2112 parents with preschool-aged children showed although parents were generally happy with the quality of childcare, there was concern that costs were continually creeping up.”A lot of people equate [childcare] to paying private school fees,” Ms Elliott said. ”People are weighing up the pros and cons as to whether it’s financially viable.”The Care for Kids survey found the Rudd government’s 50 per cent childcare rebate introduced in 2008 to meet an election promise had improved affordability.However, 25 per cent of survey respondents said being back at work was still not financially viable, and a third said the financial ”balancing act” was one of the hardest things about returning to work.A Treasury paper this month confirmed a direct link between childcare costs and women’s participation in the workforce, finding that every 1 per cent rise in childcare fees reduced mothers’ employment rates by 0.3 per cent and cut their hours worked by 0.7 per cent. There are 59 per cent of married women with children in the workforce, according to latest figures from the National Institute of Labour Studies.Ms Elliott supported the recent budget submission by the Australian Childcare Alliance for the government to pay the childcare rebate weekly, instead of quarterly, saying it would help families.”It’s an administrative thing and the system should be able to cope with that,” she said.The Alliance’s president Gwynn Bridge said weekly rebate payments would provide more tangible help to families. ”They would not be so pushed to meet [payments] out of their weekly paypacket,” she said.Ms Bridge said since the rebate was capped at $7778 per child per year, it did not cover 50 per cent of childcare costs for parents, particularly in inner Sydney.Childcare fees are expected to rise sharply from next January in NSW when new national staff-to-child ratios are introduced. Childcare centres will need to employ one carer for every four babies aged 0-2, instead of one carer for every five babies.Alliance research shows the change could add between $13 and $22 to the cost of long day-care. ”Childcare fees will rise further – there’s no question about it,” Ms Bridge said.
Nanjing Night Net