No Need To Re -invent the funding wheel
PLACEMENT SOLUTIONS NEWSLETTER – OCTOBER 2014
Reinventing the funding wheel is not the way to improve child care access
Regular readers of this newsletter will be aware that we have been closely watching the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into Childcare and Early Child Learning. We have also made submissions to the inquiry and appeared before it. The Commission released an draft report earlier this year and will soon release its final report.
We have also made submissions to the inquiry and appeared before it. The Commission released an draft report earlier this year and will soon release its final report.
The draft report includes a number of worthwhile recommendations as part of an overall push towards making child care more affordable and accessible. However there are some other recommendations that we believe would be seriously counterproductive.
The Commission recognises the contribution in-home care makes to the early childhood education and care sector as a whole, including the flexibility in-home care brings. The Commission also recognises that Nannies are not used only by the wealthy but by people from all walks of life whose circumstances do not suit other forms of child care.
The Commission sees benefits in making in-home care more accessible, and they propose to do this by extending the availability of existing government assistance (in the form of the Child Care Benefit, CCB, and Child Care Rebate, CCR) to Nannies who meet certain regulatory requirements.
However, this is where the Commission’s views, as expressed in its draft report, diverge from our own.
In order to qualify to provide CCB and CCR funded care, a Nanny would need to have a minimum level of recognised qualification and a current Working with Children check; the Nanny would need to provide ‘minimum standards of care’; and there would need to be guarantees that ‘it is care of children and not housework and other home duties that taxpayers are subsidising’. These requirements would be monitored by a ‘compliance and inspection regime tailored for Nannies’.
The Commission proposes that once Nannies have been brought into the approved care system, the current In-Home Care category of approved care be removed.
In our view there are some serious flaws in the proposed approach.
First, departmental monitoring of qualifications and the standard of care provided by hundreds of individual Nannies is simply not practical. It would inevitably lead to rorting of the system and a lowering of standards. I have described before the lengths we and other INA members go to in checking the backgrounds and experience of our Nannies before putting them in front of our client families. None of these checks would exist under the proposed system. There would be far too much risk of ‘rogue’ Nannies slipping through the net, putting children at risk. Conversely, Nannies themselves, with no form of support, would be vulnerable to being taken advantage of.
Second, by abolishing the current system of In-Home Care funding through accredited agencies, the government would be removing the most obvious source of quality control and monitoring available to them. Ironically the Commission recognises this in their draft report, stating: ‘Costs would also be substantially reduced if, as expected, a large proportion of nannies were engaged through agencies and authorities are able to rely to some extent on the quality control and monitoring processes employed by those agencies.’ Agencies would ‘provide administrative efficiencies for the government [and] some savings in compliance costs for parents and nannies’.
It is our strong view that the most simple and effective way of expanding the availability of Nannies to more families would be to extend the current In-Home Childcare funding scheme, not to remove it altogether. The current program has been providing safe, high quality in-home care for the last 14 years. Its ‘hub and spoke’ model of service provision has provided support for and monitoring of Nannies in people’s homes over that period. It is, quite simply, a system that works and could readily be expanded.
We are seeking the support of our client families to ensure that the existing funded In-Home Childcare program is expanded to more families, not removed altogether. We ask that you contact your local federal member of parliament as soon as possible to express your support for this approach. We can provide you with a pro forma letter as a starting point should that make it easier for you. Alternatively the ABC has a handy website on which you can search for and email your local member directly. Either way, we encourage you to register your concern as early as possible.
Date: 18-January-2018 @ 10:10 am