01.Parents charged non-refundable fees
National parent advocacy group The Parenthood is launching a campaign for all childcare centre waiting list fees to be banned in Australia.
The group's recent research into childcare centres found that in one inner-western suburb of Sydney, more than 60% of centres are charging parents between $15 and $100 per child simply to go on a waiting list. Parents in areas with high demand for childcare reported having to put their children's names down at multiple centres to try and ensure a spot due to long waiting times. These fees are generally non-refundable.
"If a parent has two children and has to put their name down at three centres, it results in them paying up to $500 of non-refundable money just to join a waiting list," says the executive director of The Parenthood, Fiona Sugden.
Interestingly, an analysis of centres in western Sydney revealed only nine per cent of centres were charging a waitlist fee - and the fees were much lower. However, demand for childcare places is also lower in this area. "It appears that in the suburbs closer to the city where there is very high demand for childcare, some centres are capitalising on parents' desperation by charging waitlist fees," says Sugden.
In a recent survey of parents The Parenthood found that nearly half of all parents surveyed are reaching the $7500 a year cap on government rebates, which means they then pay any childcare fees over and above this amount in full.
Three in four parents reported they would reduce their hours or stop working altogether if the childcare rebate was reduced or means tested.
For more on how to find quality childcare and navigate the waiting lists - read the CHOICE guide to childcare.