Record numbers of Australian children are in early education and care as child care fee growth has slowed, Federal Education and Training Minister Simon Birmingham said on Sunday.
Citing new figures from the Department of Education and Training, he said the 3.1 per cent increase in the numbers of children attending approved early education and care services between the March 2016 and 2017 quarters underscored the value of the system to Australian families.
“It’s not just the flexibility that families value in child care so they can work, it’s also the education that’s offered that’s so important for those early years,” Senator Birmingham said. “With so many children engaged in early education and care it highlights why keeping a lid on fee increases is so important to keep services affordable for hardworking families.”
He said the Turnbull Government’s actions to date had helped slow fee growth to 3.9 per cent, including 4 per cent for long day care, the second-lowest increases in the last decade.
“After a decade of annual average fee increases of 6.7 per cent and 14.6 per cent spikes under Labor, we know how tough some families are finding the cost of early education and care.
“Having already slowed the growth in fees, more help is on the way with more support for more families.
“The Turnbull Government’s early education and care overhaul kicks in from July 2 and the changes will help tackle cost and deliver greater flexibility and accessibility.
“We’re re-targeting subsidies to families earning the least and to families working the most, we’re abolishing the $7,613 rebate cap for families earning up to around $185,000 and our new hourly fee cap will help put downward pressure on those fee increases.
“Our overhaul includes an extra $2.5 billion investment and nearly one million families are set to benefit. A working family on $50,000 a year with two children in care three days a week at $100 a day will be around $3,380 better off each year. That same family earning $150,000 a year would be around $1,040 better off a year, and if they were earning $94,000 with the children in care two days a week, they’d be around $1,560 better off a year.”
“We know that affordable childcare is essential for some families to work the hours they want and the days that suit them, which is why we’re targeting support to low and middle income, hardworking families.
“I encourage families to visit our savings estimator at www.education.gov.au/childcare so they can see exactly what our changes mean for them and their budgets.”
Senator Birmingham said the Turnbull Government has a clear plan to put more money in the pockets of hardworking families.
“That stands in stark contrast to Bill Shorten and Labor who stood in the way of our extra child care investment in Parliament and who, when they were last in government, made changes to the system that the Productivity Commission found to have ‘accelerated’ fee increases,” he said.
“Despite a Productivity Commission report, two Senate inquiries and months of Parliamentary debate, Labor still insist on running a talkfest that’s been going for more than a year and they haven’t come up with any solutions to Australia’s broken child care system.
“Bill Shorten and Labor have no plan and no ideas.”