Hawkesbury parents feel the pinch of childcare fees

HAWKESBURY parents have welcomed the new year with a stinging rate rise in childcare fees.

Childcare centre rates around the district have risen an estimated $6 per day.

Oakville Preschool Learning Centre’s teacher Elizabeth, confirmed last week with the Gazette, the centre’s rates had increased by $3 per day — as they did every year.

An Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABBS) report released last week showed 6161 families throughout NSW are now being charged between $60 and $79 per child each week for preschool, while 5760 parents are paying between $100 and $249.

The report released by the ABBS also found that 335 families are paying out-of-pocket expenses of more than $250 per day.

The Gazette’s Facebook followers confirmed the hike in fees in centres across the Hawkesbury.

Jessica Day wrote that her child’s fees had gone up $5 per day.

‘‘I am now paying $75 per child, per day,’’ she wrote.

While Ms Day pays $75, Sarah Aldridge was paying $17 more.

‘‘My son just started childcare. I am paying $92 a day...I almost chocked,’’ she posted on the Gazette’s Facebook.

However, most Facebookers weren’t shocked by the announced price rise.

‘‘Of course child care fees increase every year. Most workers have an annual wage incre-

ase or review of conditions. Early childhood education and care centres also have to contend with the same increases in electricity, water, rent, groceries etc as households do. If fees didn’t increase how would the centres keep their heads above water?’’ Melissa Cole posted.  

But with the increase in child-

care rates occurring every few months, fewer children are being sent to childcare centres and preschool’s before they are sent to begin school. 

Research conducted by the ABBS states the first five years of a child’s life are vital to the development of life-long learning habits.

It also found that children who attend a childcare or preschool before they attend school have an easier transition into school.

Preschools differ from childcare centres and long daycare centres, as parents who send their child to a childcare centre cannot claim federal government rebates. 

Nominated Supervision, Margaret Hardy from Windsor Presbyterian Preschool Kindergarten said families at her preschool pay $36 per day.

‘‘We are a traditional preschool; we are on a different payment system than childcare centres, as our families receive a rebate from Centrelink — depending on their current circumstances,’’ she said.

‘‘We charge a lot less than childcare centres because we do not provide food, they do. They provide care while we provide an educational program for the children before they head off to school.’’

Parents who send their child to a preschool can claim as little as 65 cents for every hour their child has spent at the centre.

Parents who have their child/ren in a preschool have started a Facebook campaign called Fund NSW Preschools Now, which demands answers from NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell and Education Minister Adrian Piccoli about why children in NSW are missing out on government payments or help.

But according to the NSW government their Preschool Investment and Reform Plan provides $29.8 million in new yearly fundings to preschools and childcare centres each year.

Mr Piccoli said real expenditure by the state on children’s services increased by 5.6 per cent between 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 but they await ‘‘clear commitment’’ from the Commonwealth on further NSW funding.

"Ongoing Commonwealth funding will be essential."

For youth and family news contact:

Bianca La Cioppa-

bianca.lacioppa@ruralpress.com

or 4588 0811

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