Childcare survey reveals inequities

Available, affordable, high-quality care is still out of reach for many families.
 
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06.Affordability

Respondents' comments

Child painting

  • "Childcare costs too much and the money I make from working barely covers the cost.”
    - Christine, WA.
  • “Still in shock that it will cost more for childcare than it will to put my children through private school.”
    - Tim, Victoria.
  • “I just want to point out that $50–$60 per day (10 hours) to look after a child is very cheap. I don’t believe that childcare is too expensive. I would happily pay more to know that my child is well looked after while I go to work.”
    - Rebecca, WA.
  • “When the government offers a rebate it seems all the daycare centres then put the price up — so in effect the rebate is of no use!”
    - Leah, NSW.

Type of childcare and cost

High cost was among the top problems listed by survey respondents for all kinds of publicly available childcare — it was the biggest problem by a long chalk for users of commercial centres, and equal second even for users of usually cheaper family daycare (see Table 1).

Only 17% of parents using community-based/notfor- profit childcare listed cost as a problem, though it was still fourth on their list. However, the corollary to this was 26% of this group saying they have to fundraise for the centre.

Government assistance

To assist families with the cost of childcare, the Federal Government introduced the means-tested Child Care Benefit (CCB) in 2000. This benefit initially made childcare more affordable. However, research indicates that rises in childcare fees in recent years have been greater than the CCB subsidy, which has made childcare less affordable again for many families.

On top of the CCB, the Federal Government introduced the Child Care Tax Rebate (CCTR) in 2004, whereby families claiming the CCB can also claim 30% of what they pay for childcare (less their CCB) against their income tax.

The maximum rebate is $4000 per child, which parents couldn’t initially claim until the 2005/06 financial year. The CCTR can only reduce the amount of tax a person owes to zero — so you won’t receive any excess as a refund once your tax is reduced to nil.

As no-one has been able to claim their rebate until recently, it’s too early to know what effect the rebate will have on family finances. However, some experts doubt the extent of its value to lower and middleincome families. It’s of most benefit to families on high incomes who are receiving a lower CCD and are taxed at a higher rate.

Critics also point out that many parents can’t afford to wait until the following financial year to receive their rebate.

 

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