Like it or not, childcare is a necessity

 

Toddler in childcare surrounded by blocks
Image: iStock

A federal election is looming in Australia. The nation will decide who’ll run the country on May 18.

One battleground that Labor has chosen is childcare subsidies and wages for early childhood educators.

Labor’s policy

One of Labor’s (ALP) promises is to spend A$10 million to boost wages of early childhood educators. Both parties plan to subsidise childcare costs for many families. The Labor government plans to subsidise fees based on annual combined income. Some will get their childcare for free.

  • Families earning up to A$69,000 ¬†will have childcare 100% subsidised
  • A$69,000 – A$100,000 will get 85%+ subsidy
  • A$100,000 – A$174,000 – 64 – 80% to the fee cap.
  • Those earning over $174,000 will get the same support that’s currently available.

They also promise to increase wages for early childhood educators by 20% over eight years. That could add up to an extra A$11,000 annually.

Currently, early childhood educators are one of the lowest paying industries in Australia, despite the study and amount of work they have to do.

To keep the costs to families low, Labor has also promised to crack down on centres who place “excessIve increases” on fees.

Liberal policy

According to news.com.au, the Liberal Government doesn’t plan to make any further changes to childcare subsidies.

Last year, the Liberals introduced subsidies to lower income families. Since its implementation, the Liberal Government claims that on average, out of pocket costs for childcare dropped 10% and saved the average family A$1300 a year.

Why should childcare be subsidised?

Some people aren’t a fan of childcare subsidies, period. Gemma Tognini attacked Labor’s plan, arguing that such plans end up hurting those that need the help. She also emphasised that, for the most part, having children is a choice.

I agree with the last point. For most having a child (or a number of children) is a choice. Having to go back to work to survive financially when your child is young, though, is often not.

Many families need two parents working to keep afloat financially. This would definitely be the case in the major cities.

It’s also been argued that childcare can assist in the social, psychological, cognitive and academic development of a child. Play – based learning has shown to, not only teach children skills, but actually help wire the brain.

 

Not all families that want or need childcare for small children can afford high expenses. Too often, childcare costs make going back to work seem like a waste of time.

Also, children deserve to have the best chance to achieve in school from the start. Preschool/ kindergarten educators can alert primary schools if a child has any difficulty that could affect their schooling. Every child deserves the chance to overcome those hurdles as early as possible.

 

Look, maybe Labor’s plan for childcare is too grand. And it’s possible promised pay increases for early childhood educators and subsidies for parents will be put in the ‘never’ basket. But I don’t think early childhood education assistance should be dismissed.

What do you think about Liberal’s and Labor’s plan for childcare? Let me know in the comments below.

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