Now that we have had the election and we are in a deadlock with the Greens and independents it has made me think more about what the policy implications might be … especially for families and families with children with special needs on areas of interest. So I thought it might be worthwhile to compile some summaries of policy areas that are of interest over the next few posts.
- Will commit an additional $89 million for initiatives to make child care more affordable and help ensure the quality of care.
- Will reintroduce the indexation of the Child Care Rebate to help eligible families meet their child care costs. The Child Care Rebate covers 50 per cent of out-of-pocket child care expenses for approved child care up to the annual cap of $7,500.
- For those parents receiving the maximum amount of the Child Care Rebate, indexation of the payment will provide an additional $300 per year for every child in care.
- Will seek to have Child Care Rebate paid weekly and directly to child care providers
- Will reintroduce $12.6 million of Occasional Care funding cut by the Rudd/Gillard Government, which will give parents greater flexibility and part-time access to child care places in times of emergency or unforeseen need.
- The Coalition will not proceed with Labor’s new National Rating system for child care and early childhood education services.
- Will re-establish the Federal Planning and Advisory Committee to restore order and rationality to the establishment of new accredited child care facilities. The Committee will assess whether the establishment or expansion of child care centres is warranted, subject to the unmet need in catchment areas.
Will commit an additional $89.25 million over the forward estimates towards increasing these child care measures. This funding will be provided from the nearly $24 billion in recurrent savings that have been identified by the Coalition over the forward estimates.
- The Gillard Labor Government recognises that the early years are critically important. If re-elected we will invest $17.1 billion over the next four years in early childhood education and child care.
- We will continue to pay Child Care Rebate up to 50% of parent’s out-of-pocket expenses up to a maximum of $7,500 a year. As a result of these changes, child care costs to parents fell by over 20 per cent according to ABS figures.
- The Gillard Labor Government will move to pay Child Care Rebate fortnightly from 1 July 2011, so that parents get this important assistance at the same time they need to pay their child care bills. Parents will be able to choose to have this assistance paid to their child care service and receive the rebate as a direct deduction to their child care bill.
- If re-elected the Gillard Labor Government will implement the new National Quality Standard, which will ensure a consistent quality of child care and early education across the country.
- We will improve staff to child ratios so that each child gets more individual care and attention and we will improve staff qualifications, so that staff can lead activities that help children learn and develop.
- A re-elected Gillard Labor Government will establish a new national body – the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority – to monitor the quality of child care across the country and provide information and assistance to services.
- We will also introduce a quality ratings system so parents know the quality of care on offer across different services and services will know where they need to improve.
- We will continue to fund an unlimited amount of child care places across the country. This enables new child care services to set up and existing child care services to expand, to meet the needs of local communities.
- A re-elected Gillard Labor Government will continue our investment of $970 million to 2013 so that every child has access to 15 hours a week of preschool or kindergarten in the year before school by 2013.
The Prime Minister and the Minister for Early Childhood Education, Child Care and Youth will be making further announcements before Election Day about how the Gillard Labor Government will further expand their commitment to Early Childhood Education and Child Care.
- If elected the Greens will support nationally consistent Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) standards with more highly qualified staff and lower carer-to-child ratios of at least 1:3 for children aged 0-2, and 1:4 for children aged over two and smaller groups.
- If elected the Greens will support a Productivity Commission inquiry to look into the payment of services to work out the most cost-effective method of service delivery.
- If elected the Greens will establish a Capital Grants Fund of $200 million over four years ($50 million per year) to allow individual community centres to apply with quotes for capital grants work to build infrastructure.
- If elected the Greens will establish a Co-op Childcare Fund to provide $10m in grants for local, small and medium businesses to collectively establish childcare facilities for their employees. This fund could see up to 100 new centres established for around 1500 children.
- If elected the Greens will fight for more publicly funded, community-based and not-for-profit child care facilities, especially in areas of high unmet demand or growth and areas of high socio-economic need. The new National Quality Framework on ECEC must guarantee a place for all children under 3 by 2012.
- If elected, the Greens will ensure that their initiative to have fortnightly payments of the childcare rebate commences as soon as possible.