Boy, what a relief: proposal to ease childcare burden on families

MORE OPTIONS FOR PARENTS: Nicole Munday, pictured with her sons Angus, 3 months, and Oscar, 4, says returning to work after maternity leave will bring with it a big bill for childcare. Photo: STEVE GOSCH

MORE OPTIONS FOR PARENTS: Nicole Munday, pictured with her sons Angus, 3 months, and Oscar, 4, says returning to work after maternity leave will bring with it a big bill for childcare. Photo: STEVE GOSCH

WHEN Nicole Munday returns to work in a couple of months after having her second baby, she and her husband Jason will be paying out almost $600 a week in childcare for their two boys.

“It is a lot of money, but in a regional area people value their jobs - you don’t have much choice,” Mrs Munday said.

“It just means for the next 15 months until our son Oscar goes to school we will really have to watch expenses.”

Like many parents who fall into the salary category of Mrs Munday and her husband, the couple are eligible for a $7500 a year childcare subsidy, and she welcomes a new proposal to ease the burden of childcare expenses on parents.

“Without that subsidy it would be even more expensive at around $800 a week for them both,” she said.

Under a new set of proposals just released by the Productivity Commission targeting low to middle-income families, Mrs Munday and other young parents may have new government-funded options for the future - employing a nanny to come into the family home or payments to be made to grandparents who have a TAFE qualification.

Mrs Munday is hoping both of her boys will be able to be cared for at the same centre when she returns to her job.

“Oscar has been at The Willows and he’s been very happy there,” she said.

“It would just make the dropping off and picking up around work times so much easier.”

However, Mrs Munday says if any of the productivity changes are taken up by the government she would seriously consider the other options.

“Bringing a nanny in would mean there wouldn’t be that awful rush in the mornings to get out the door,” she said.

Also included in the Productivity Commission’s raft of new suggestions is the easing of cost pressures for parents with a child with special needs or a disability.

 Orange and District Early Education Program director Robyn Brice said families with young children with a disability did not have equal access to early childhood education and care services.

“Funding is not always available and it is vital that young children with disabilities have the same access as their peers,” she said.

Orange City Council runs occasional care and childcare centres in Orange, and councillor Ron Gander says the Productivity Commission’s concept of combining a variety of childcare allowances into a single early-care and learning subsidy paid to parents was a good one.

“Orange City Council has a good record compared to other regional councils in providing childcare and any recommendations which let the parents of Orange have access to more sustainable, well-run childcare should be welcomed,” said Cr Gander, chair of council’s policy committee.

“It’s a large document and council staff will be looking closely at the details in the coming days and weeks.”

janice.harris@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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