Local families are fearful that they’ll be forced out of child care due to the spiralling costs.
That’s the message received by Liberal Candidate for Penrith Stuart Ayres and Shadow Minister for Community Services Pru Goward on their visit to the Emu Heights Day Care Centre.
“It’s really tough on families who continually see their daily bills go up, to face another rise in child care fees thanks to Labor’s early childhood reforms,” said Ms Goward.
“The first lot of reforms introduced by Kevin Rudd will require increased numbers of staff for children under two.”
“Child Care NSW estimates that will mean an average increase of $20 a day in fees which, for an average income family, will be a huge challenge. Without doubt mothers will be forced to leave the workforce in the Penrith area when these changes start next year.”
Penrith families with children over two also face child care fee increases as staff numbers will also rise for the two to three year old category and centres will be required to employ a university trained pre school teacher.
“Although these reforms are all good for early childhood, the NSW Government failed to win increased child care rebates for families so families with children under three will all have to find extra money. The Centre estimates its fees might rise by $5 a day, which will be an additional strain on the family budget, already hit hard by increases in electricity charges. I fear this means a lot of mums in the Penrith area will be driven out of the work force.”
Emu Heights Day Care Centre is one of six child care centres in the local area. “Thanks to the lack of planning regulation, there is a huge over-supply of centres. Even good ones such as Emu Heights are less than half full,” said Ms Goward.
Stuart Ayres said, “I am concerned that the combination of a cost increase and excess supply will be tough on local child care centres and could lead to some closures. That is not only terrible for centre owners but for families. Children will be uprooted from centres they may have attended for years and parents forced to find alternatives at short notice – we would not tolerate this in our schools and we shouldn’t tolerate it in child care centres caring for our very young and most vulnerable children”.
Pru Goward says this is part of Labor’s neglect of Penrith. “They’ve taken Penrith and the lower mountains for granted and haven’t taken any interest in planning the supply of child care places and now believe families can cope with fee increases. The families of Penrith should tell Kristina Keneally and her government what they think of them when they vote on June 19.”