THE FEDERAL government’s childcare shake up has ruffled feathers with some parents, but a childcare service in Armidale welcomes the system that better support working families.
TG’s Child Care and Pre-School general manager Gayle Kee said the Child Care Subsidy has increased enrollments by 20 per cent.
“Some families pay as little as $15 a day, families that are not eligible for any childcare subsidy will be paying between $100 and $107 a day,” she said.
“In regional areas families are so much better off because they have such lower fees that they can pay for long day care, a family in Sydney is paying twice our fee and there’s other services charging $250 a day.”
The CCS replaces the previous system that offered 50 hours of child care to parents a week.
Now, eligible parents can claim up to 72 hours fortnightly, and low-income families will have 85 per cent of their childcare costs paid.
Just 20 per cent of childcare costs will be covered for high-income families, and the subsidy cuts off at $351,258 income earners.
Ms Kee said while some families have had to leave TG’s, others have been able to dramatically increase their hours over more days.
“For example, some families in the past would only bring their children for three days a week because that was the entitlement they had,” she said.
“Now we’re finding if we manage those CCS hours across the week, some families are able to bring their children five days a week – so they’re rapt that we’re able to support them in their working scenario.
“There actually are some great benefits to the new system.”
The new activity test increases available childcare hours based on the amount of work the parent does, allowing for maternity leave, job seekers, volunteering, unpaid family business work, study or self-employment.
The hours are based on the parent with the lowest number of working hours, so families with one part-time or unemployed parent will qualify for fewer hours.
TG’s Child Care workers have sat down individually with families to work out the best way to allocate their hours.
Ms Kee said it’s increasing their utilisation and filling spaces, but the service has still had to up their fees as a result of the 3.5 per cent start wage increase and organisational costs.
“There have been some families where it’s really rocked the boat because they will no longer be eligible for any CCS,” she said.
“While there have been some families that have had to make the decision to find other alternatives or keep their children at home - the majority of families have increased their hours of care and days of care across the fortnight, that’s a win-win for us as well.”
Around 200,000 families still had not applied for the new subsidy by the July 1 deadline, meaning they may not receive payments on time.
But, back-payments will be available as part of a transitional arrangement.
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