Child care in Noosa is facing an uncertain future for many parents feeling the financial strain of COVID-19
Child care in Noosa is facing an uncertain future for many parents feeling the financial strain of COVID-19

SHUT-OUT: Fears over child care access

RESULTS from a national survey of parents has revealed just how tough it may be for Noosa parents to continue their current level of childcare access.

More than a third of those surveyed will be forced to reduce days or remove their children out of their service altogether when out-of-pocket fees return.

The Parenthood’s survey revealed at least 44 per cent of parents with children currently enrolled in childcare have had their income reduced since COVID-19.

Parenthood’s national campaign director Georgie Dent said any early ‘snapback’ to the old model, as the federal government has flagged, would have a dramatic and detrimental impact on families, the sector, and the nation’s economy.

“For the majority of parents who have had their income drop due to COVID, they report they’d be forced to reduce days or remove their child or children from care altogether – just when they’re trying to find their feet again in this new uncertain job market,” Ms Dent said.

“These findings illustrate how significantly different the financial situation is for so many families right now compared to a few months ago,” she said.

The vast majority of families (73 per cent) reported the government’s move to make childcare fee-free for parents had had a positive impact on their family’s finances – which was critical for some, given just under half (44 per cent) of parents reported a loss of income in their family and 17 per cent reporting that both parents had seen a drop in their income.

“The impact on workforce participation will predominantly fall to women, with 66 per cent reporting they would be the partner who would reduce their hours of work or stop work altogether,” Ms Dent said.

She said while the majority of parents have been able to keep their children in some form of early childhood education and care for the same amount of days as they had prior to this crisis – one in 10 who attempted further access were denied.

“The majority (are) being shut-out altogether,” Ms Dent said.

“With reports of parents being locked out of early learning and care just when they need it the most, it confirms the government must act urgently to fix the current system, not talk of a snap back to the old system,” she said.

The Parenthood campaign to wants the Federal Government to fix the current arrangements to help ensure parents and children get access to the early learning and care that they need.