Categories
News Opinion/Commentary

Children left hungry in childcare centres

Young children sitting down at a fable eating friit from lunchboxes
Image: iStock

This is infuriating.

According to Herald Sun, some childcare centres spend A65c on food per child. The food is often low in nutritional value. 

Some childcare coordinators and cooks admitted that they never spent more than A$5.00 of food a day. Some spent as little as A$2.15. That includes snacks. 

A Newscorp investigation revealed food offered children included: bread and butter and packet pasta. None of the food had any protein. 

In a United Workers Union survey, 2o% of directors and cooks thought the food budget wasn’t enough. 60% of respondents even bought food for the children out of their own pocket. 

In a private Facebook group, a commenter fumed:

I feed my dog more a a day than the budget I get. If parents knew they’d be appalled.

Dietitian from University of Queensland, Bonnie Searle witnessed children asking for seconds, but the food had run out. 

Searle also saw deceptive menus. Menus would advertise “gourmet sandwiches”, only for children to be offered Vegemite or jam sandwiches. 

Sometimes, childcare providers gave children fruit that had become brown and slimy.

Searle condemned centres for lack of nutrition:

A big plate of fruit is not going to keep children full. They need some fat and protein. The food groups we did not see enough of were vegetables and meat. 

Children who don’t get enough food or the right nutrition ran the risk of not being able to regulate their emotions or concentrate. 

Could this be contributing to rise in in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) diagnoses?  Now, I do believe this is a genuine disorder, but it does make you wonder.

Why don’t parents just pack children food?

When I was reading about this, some people asked why can’t parents just pack their children food? Well, apparently, many centres don’t allow it for fears of allergic reactions. 

If this is the case, then everyone is in a no – win situation. 

It’s not good enough.

End private childcare and have it properly funded

People have told me a lack of food in childcare is neither surprising or uncommon. Coordinators of private childcare centres put profits over the well – being of children. 

If this is the case, there is one solution. The government has to fund childcare 100%. No more private providers. They obviously can’t be regulated properly. This goes for the aged care sector as well. 

When people bring this up, protesters complain and ask why should they pay for other people’s children? So what if you don’t have children? Do you have nieces? Nephews? Children of friends who call you their cool “aunt” or “uncle”?

I don’t have children. Most adults, including myself want to see children thrive. Children need a healthy environment, including healthy food. 

The National Quality Standard

In 2010, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) introduced the National Quality Standard. These were very strict and very detailed.

Since the Liberal National/ Coalition Party has been in power, these standards have been watered down. While Standard 2.1 covers a “healthy lifestyle”, there is no specific demand that a childcare provider must provided healthy food or water, like it did when the Australian Labor Party were in power. 

Maybe they should at least bring that standard back. And hold ALL centres to that standard. Children deserve it. 

 

What do you think about childcare? What improvements should be made? Do you think they should all be government run? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Categories
Politics

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.

Categories
Opinion/Commentary

David Leyonheljm comes under fire for offensive comments on early childhood educators

This week, New South Wales Senator David Leyonheljm came under fire for comments he made about early childhood educators on Ten’s “The Project” on Tuesday night. This came in light of the Coalition’s plan to put another 3 billion dollars into childcare subsidies for working families. Leyonheljm argues that the proposed packaged benefited the rich more than the poor. But what got people upset was his description of what childcare workers do. Leyonheljm argued:

Apart from the fact you want to make sure there aren’t any paedophiles involved, you have to have credentials these days to be a childcare worker. A lot of women, mostly women, used to look after kids in childcare centres. And then they brought in this national quality framework and they had to get a Certificate III in childcare in order to continue the job they were doing – you know, wiping noses and stopping kids from killing each other.

Despite the outrage, when appearing on Seven’s “Sunrise”, Leyonheljm dug his heels in and refused to apologise. One Nation leader, Pauline Hanson stood by Leyonheljm and said that he was “right”. Hanson then made the comparison between early childhood educators and her as a mother raising four children. 

 

Just to give a context of what Leyonheljm was talking about in regard to the National Quality Framework; back in 2009, the – then Labor Government overthrew the early childhood education system and introduced a National Quality Framework.  This, in part, mandated childcare (or early childhood educators), be at least Certificate III qualified to work in early childhood settings or be studying the course while working. This was to allegedly better the care and education outcomes of children who entered childcare services. The Early Years Learning Framework lists skills and awareness a child should be able to achieve by the time they start school. Some of the outcomes listed include: “Children have a strong sense of identity”, “Children are connected and contribute to their world” and “Children have a strong sense of well – being”. To read more about the Outcomes, read pages 21 – 44 here. The introduction of these new requirements have spiked up costs for childcare and neither the Coalition nor Labor have come up with a way to ease the burden on families -some of who are paying over $200 a day in fees in Sydney, with other capital cities not far behind. However, Labor have rejected the figures, according to the Herald Sun, saying the average cost was closer to $88.00 a day.

 

I have read comments on blogs from people who work in early childhood education who have said that they are snowed under with red tape and paper work. That could be looked at and it would be a benefit, I think to everybody, if that can be scaled back. But to say that they are just babysitters wiping kids noses and stopping them from killing each other is disrespectful, archaic and plain wrong. The vast majority of early childhood educators do so because they are passionate about the well – being and development of young children. They want to nurture children’s interests, culture and talents. They work tirelessly for the benefit of the children – sometimes even into the holidays. These people should be applauded, not given a smart alec comment about what they supposedly do – apparently by someone who has very little idea about what’s involved. These workers should be applauded for working along side parents (not taking their role!). to get the best social, emotional, physical and educational outcomes for the children they work with. They also work alongside specialists when children have physical or other disabilities or illnesses. They let local primary schools know if a child has any difficulties, either academically, behaviourally or in toilet training. They want nothing but the best  for the children they work with.

 

Again, the extent of the regulations in early childhood education and care can be debated and  modified to make life simpler for both educators and families. But denigrating what they do is not the way to debate or get anything done.