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SSC Newspaper : July 2010
YOUR SAY Tell us your problems and experiences at email@example.com By Jess Noble Every weekday morning there is a convoy of cars heading out of Strath eld. At the wheel are local parents taking their children to day-care centres in other less a uent suburbs. It is not that they don't like Strath eld. ey are looking for more a ordable childcare rates in preference to those in their own suburb which can reach upto $93 for long day care. Parents who drive just seven kilometres down the highway to Greenacre can save more than $40 a day. In other surrounding suburbs such as Greenacre, Belmore, Lidcombe and Bankstown, day care centre prices start at just $46 a day. Price is not the only issue. But it is certainly an important one. And has caused a remarkable problem for Strath eld. While other Sydney suburbs reportedly su er a shortage of places, Strath eld has an oversupply. It's an extraordinary situation likely to be further exacerbated by a major new day care centre opening. Strath eld mother Winny Asiawan is one of the parents who leaves Strath eld every day heading to day care in another suburb. Ms Asiawan puts her two-year-old daughter in a long day care centre in Bur wood. " e ser vice in Bur wood is okay. e price was $77 a day which is quite reasonable compared to others," she says. Normal economics would mean a oversupply would pull down prices. But normal market forces is not the only issue at play in Strath eld, a municipality with more children and young couples than most. Despite the oversupply, the high number of empty places is not bringing the day care rates down. High costs, particularly property prices in Strath eld are owing on to the cost of child care and underpinning prices. Even more remarkably, a new 90-place centre is due to open in Strath eld next month. Building Blocks Child Care Service, on Liverpool Road (see story, right), is being promoted as the states's rst "six star " centre. Lyn Connolly, President of Childcare NSW, e great kindy commute says that on the whole there are vacancies everywhere in Strath eld and prices are dramatically di erent in other nearby suburbs such as Lidcombe and Merrylands. "Some people will take their kids out of the area when fees go up, this is always a possibility," she says. "Prices won't be going down. You can't leave it to market forces. It [the lack of demand] will never force the cost of care down, but it may close centres. And it may force the cost of quality down. "We should be telling the federal government that this is an area where there are vacancies -- in some instances extensive. ere needs to be a proper planning model by the federal government based on the allocation of childcare bene t places." Connolly also asks why another child centre is being allowed to be open in Strath eld when there are places already available. Strath eld resident Jeon Jiyoun has decided not to put his two-year-old son into day care in Strath eld because it is too expensive: "I would like to send my child to a childcare centre in the area but we are going to save some money and send him next year." A spokesperson for the Children, Youth and Family Services Department at Strath eld Council says local parents have been complaining about a lack of a ordable places in the suburb. "We hear from a lot of parents who are saying there aren't enough options," according to the spokesperson. "It's a big problem for single mums who want to go back to work. It's more about a ordability than accessibility." ere are six care centres that are registered with the immediate Strath eld council area -- three are community based, three are private. While the community care centres have waiting lists, there are vacancies at all of the private centres. According to recent media reports, almost a third of parents in Sydney are paying more than $80 a day in care fees. Strath eld prices range from $73 to $93 for a full day of care for babies to two year olds. e mychild.gov. au website lists prices of long day care ranging from $65 a day in Parrama a to over $100 a day in the city. e prospect of a new childcare centre opening in the area -- coupled with the current oversupply of places -- is a source of worry for existing childcare businesses in Strath eld. "We might be out of business by next year," says Mary Brennan of Li le Academy Childcare. "Strath eld doesn't need any more childcare choices and the new centre will have an e ect on existing businesses." According to Family Day Care Australia, there are 152 family day carers in Strath eld and adjoining suburbs, 857 children enrolled in family day care and approximately 111 current vacancies. Rhonda Bignell, CEO of Family Day Care Australia, says fees are set by the carers and vary according to location, ser vices provided, hours of care and the age of the child. On average the rate for family day care ranges from between $5 to $10 an hour. Cynthia Algie Zara McPherson Leaves Strathfield Family Day Care e childcare options in Strath eld failed to thrill mum Cynthia Algie, who opts to take her three-year-old daughter Alexandra to Woodstock Long Day Care in Burwood. "A friend of a friend of mine told me about this great centre and I was able to get a place straight away," she says. Although Cynthia was aware of the vast options in Strath eld, she shopped around but wasn't sold on any of the centres." ere are lots of places in Strath eld. I looked around but I was only okay about them. I wasn't pumped. When I came to this centre, I felt like I was coming home. I'm not even working at the moment but I have decided to keep her [Alexandra] there because she loves it so much. " e centre really responds to her needs. I had a nanny before but she le to go back overseas. Day care is the best option because of the social interaction. It's de nitely the best choice." Algie plans to take her infant son to the same centre when he is old enough to be enrolled. For Zara McPherson, the childcare choice in front of her was obvious and the enrolment process, easy. Her boys, aged two and four, are in care together ve days a week at a Bel eld home run by home carer Sathiya Ambikairajah. "I was told about it by another mother. It was my rst choice because of what I was told was on o er through this [family day care] system," she says. " ey love what their carer is providing for them. It is a home environment and we are welcomed into a home as opposed to an institution. "For young babies, which both of mine were when they started, it is much more appropriate to have them in this environment as there are only a few children, more a ention per child and a mother gure provided. My carer goes above and beyond what would be expected to provide social skills, education, outdoor activities, cooking, and general fun. My boys are always busy, except for their rest time of course." 8 Strathfeld Scene "There needs to be a proper planning model by the federal government” – Lyn Connolly, president of Childcare NSW June 2010 THE BIG ISSUE Source: www.mychild.gov.au how much will you pay? Lidcombe $46 Greenacre prices start at $50 Bankstown prices start at $54 Belmore prices start at $56 Merrylands prices start at $59 Regents Park prices start at $68 Ashfeld prices start at $70 Strathfeld prices start at $73 Burwood prices start at $74 Haberfeld prices start at $80 Daily rates for long-day childcare, babies to two-year olds. " e prospect of a new childcare centre opening in the area is a source of worry"