by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
SSC Newspaper : February 2012
22 Strathfield Scene december 2011 life By Joanne Tran Strathfield’s community- based childcare centres are booming, reaching capacity and leaving them unable to accommodate youngsters on their waiting lists. Private operators have been forced to increase fees – up to $13 a day, according to Productivity Commission estimates – with the government’s new regulations on staff ratios getting the blame. The rules also demand an increase in ap- propriately qualified staff. Many parents have little choice but to pay higher fees to find space for their children. The situation has rekindled the de- bate about whether employers or the government should subsidise what, for many, is a vital service. “Parents may have a whole check- list of what they want in a centre but at the end of the day they’re going to have to go where there are vacancies,” says Jenny Green, manager at com- munity-based Kurralee Children’s Centre in Homebush West. Child care is a hot-button issue in the municipality, which has one of Sydney’s highest concentrations of young families. cost of staff Two years ago the Scene reported how local parents were being forced to take their children to cheaper areas because of private operators’ prices. The new pressure on community- based care comes after the federal government ordered a lower staff-to- baby ratio last year. The new rules reduce the number of children in the care of staff from five to four. As a result some private operators had to hire more staff, which they say pushed up prices. The commission forecasts that the reforms will increase childcare costs by 15%. “Fees will keep getting jacked up and parents will have to pay more if owners of businesses reduce child- care spots or increase staff,” warns Kerry Howitt, supervisor at private operator Little Einsteins Early Learning Centre. “We’re lucky that we already had more staff, so it didn’t really affect us.” Not all other centres in the area are as lucky, she says, with some facing problems finding the right staff to meet the new reforms. “It’s a great initiative but the government should have a think of who pays.” Matthew Gill, who puts his daugh- ter in long day care, agrees. “If they are going to make staff get more qual- ifications, then maybe they should assist in funding the payment for the staff,” Gill says. One private operator, who prefers to remain anonymous, says fees should not be increasing much this year because many of the changes took effect at the start of last year. He says the jump in prices last year did not affect enrolments in his centres. “Parents understand that there’s better care. They’re pay- ing for it because they’re getting something for it,” he says. “Either parents or the government are go- ing to have to pay for it.” Vicki Skoulogenis, president of Childcare NSW, which represents private operators, urges parents to speak up and urge the government to provide more assistance, a point local mum Keiko Seino also makes. Against this, dad Hendrich Lay says that as difficult as keeping up child costs is, government rebates "really help a lot along the way ". Green says private operators should take more responsibility for the service they provide, and believes they should fund the training re- quired to keep their businesses. Many community-based centres already met the new ratio regula- tions, so increased cost is a non-issue. “Because we are not for profit we are more concerned about quality and always run with more staff than we need,” said Charles Wilson, chief executive of Integricare, the parent organisation of Kurralee. As a result, the reforms have barely made a dent in Integricare and minimal changes needed to be made, keeping fees in community- based centres stable. community v. private Prices in Integricare centres only rose slightly above the Consumer Price Index, while Strathfield One- Stop Child Care Service, another community-based centre, in- creased daily rates by just a dollar. But these relatively low prices are just one reason why Strathfield par- ents are opting for community-based centres ahead of privately owned ones. “Some people just like the idea of community-based centres more,” says One-Stop's Mirna Ayoub. Green says the reforms will bring Parents caught in a childcare trap Necessary: Kurralee's Jenny Green says the new staff-to-baby ratios are long overdue. Wallets hit: (clockwise from left) Keiko Senio and Koharu, 4; Matthew Gill and Lillian, 2; Hendrich Lay and Eusebio, 5. centres Active Kids 9746 3812, 40 Hornsey Rd, Homebush West Ages ................... 0 -2 , 2 -3 Daily price .......... $85, $81 Opening hours ... 7am-6pm Building Blocks Early Childhood Learning Centre 9742 1881, 522 Liverpool Rd, South Strathfield Ages ................... 0 -2 , 2 -3, 3 -5 Daily price .......... $93, $87, $78 Opening hours ... 7am-6 .30pm City Kidz Pre-School 9745 2385, 41 Willee St, Strathfield Ages ................... 2 -5 Daily price .......... $76 Opening hours ... 8am-4 .45pm Kurralee Children’s Centre 9764 4146, 52 Hampstead Rd, Homebush West Ages ................... 0 -2 , 2 -5 Daily price .......... $76.50, $73 Opening hours ... 7 .30am-6pm Little Academy 9642 5580, 234 Homebush Rd, Strathfield Ages ................... 2 -6 Daily price .......... $85 Opening hours ... 7am-6pm Strathfield One-Stop Child Care Service 9763 5020, A2 Fraser St, Strathfield Ages ................... 0 -5 Daily price .......... $79 (w/ nappies), $76 (w/o nappies) Opening hours ... 7 .30am-6pm Little Einsteins Early Learning Centre 8757 3731, 27 -29 George St, North Strathfield Ages ................... 0 -2 , 3 -5 Daily price .......... $95, $85 Opening hours ... 7am-6 .30pm private operators into line and are long overdue. “It is making private providers more accountable.” She says some private operators cashed in on the lack of regulation. “Child care had been a wonderful opportunity for them to make money because they could do it by employing staff with minimal training and qualifications.” Many private operators would not talk on the record about the impact of the new regulations. Another who asked to remain anonymous strongly denied the private sector had cashed in, main- taining it was just as concerned about quality. “ We’ve already met the standard the government will enforce in 2016.” In Strathfield, the daily rate for full day of care for babies to two-year- oldscanbeashighas$93–un- changed since the Scene last did a survey of local centres in 2010. If parents drive just down the road to Greenacre or Auburn, they can get the same service for about $65. This means Strathfield residents choosing to remain local can be paying over a third more than those willing to travel a short distance for child care.