Couldn't find a place
Sharon from Marrickville in Sydney’s inner west says she was looking at childcare centres "… before I booked the obstetrician … in this area you have to get your name down early.” She was warned by the council, though, that she probably wouldn’t get a place in long-day care because of high demand.
She looked at a number of centres, choosing them by word of mouth. "I always asked about staff turnover, as I think continuity of care is what counts, not shiny pretty toys."
After her daughter Olivia was born, Sharon also put her name down for family daycare. She was offered three places to choose from — one was already gone by the time she called and the other two were unsuitable for her daughter.
Sharon’s employer was willing to be flexible, and she arranged some informal care with her mother-in-law and a friend. In the end, though, she wasn’t able to guarantee that she would always be available to work enough days in the office every week, even part-time, and so had to resign.
Although she can freelance from home, Sharon admits her income is erratic. "It would’ve been tough financially and professionally if I hadn’t been able to find informal care and work freelance.”
Sharon thinks governments and local councils are short-sighted and inconsistent: "Given that many professional couples in their 30s had bought homes around the inner west of Sydney, the need for childcare in the area should’ve been obvious. And the Federal Government wants people to have children, but they’re not supporting them when they do."
Very happy with the quality of care
Glen from Dubbo, NSW, has used a council-run childcare centre for his two-year-old daughter Sophie since she was seven months old.
Glen and his wife Merryn originally used family daycare. Although they liked her being in a home environment, they eventually decided to change Sophie to a long-day care centre run by the council, as they thought it would improve her development.
“Sophie loves going to daycare," says Glen. "The carers are very good — we’re happy with them all.” He’s also pleased that Sophie’s carers can tell him what she’s been up to all day "… off the top of their heads, so they take notice — they take part in her development."
Merryn and Glen put Sophie's name on the centre’s waiting list while she was still in family daycare. When they decided to put her into the centre, it wasn't too difficult. The main problem was getting the days they wanted — Merryn had to change her days at work to suit the centre.
"We weren’t too concerned about cost," said Glen. “We wanted quality care. We checked it out first — how rooms were set out, activities … the amount of kids … we’d also heard good things about the centre."