Recently I met with two fellow advocates for greater affordable and flexible childcare. Roxanne Elliott is the Founder of www.careforkids.com.au, a wonderful online resource for parents including a childcare vacancy alert. Roxanne has conducted the CareforKids.com.au Annual Child Care and Workforce Participation Survey for the past six years.
Here are some key findings:
- 1/ 4 of women returning to work after having children say working simply isn’t viable (because of the high cost of childcare), but choose to work for independence and keeping “in the game”
- 40% pay over $300 per week in childcare costs and 25% pay $200-$300 per week
- 76% believe they should not have to pay fees on a public holiday when no care is provided
- For those claiming the child care rebate (CCR), 82% said the 50% rebate level (which came into effect in 2008) has made a significant impact on the affordability of childcare
- 94% believe that all legitimate childcare should be tax deductible (family day care, registered care)
- 80% also believe you should be able to claim the same benefit for registered nannies
OK – so it sounds expensive and we get that people want greater flexibility around deductibility and options. But what is the impact of expensive and inaccessible childcare? I met with Jen Dalitz, Founder of Sphinxx, a social enterprise committed to the advancement of women as leaders. Jen established the “Make Care Fair” campaign earlier this year when she personally experienced frustration at the lack of affordable support available for families with children. Jen’s extensive research on this topic found tremendous impact on both a women’s career and economic standing, as well as impact on workplace participation and the Australian economy overall:
Impact on women:
- 48% of woman said the cost of childcare negatively hit their career, but not their partner’s career
- 72% of women said their partner’s career had not been held back at all
- (This creates a earning deficit between partners and it’s quite often the woman who forgoes her earning power and therefore ends up with less superannuation and assets overall.)
Impact on workplace participation and the Australian economy:
- For every AUD$1 the Government might spend on childcare, the Government would get back AUD$1.86 in revenue from the improved workforce participation rate
- 51% say one parent would have to quit their job if the costs of childcare increase
- 50% of parents would increase their hours of work if care was more affordable
- Affordability of childcare influenced the departures of 64% of employed parents from the workforce
- 60% of carers who do not work would return to the workforce if care was more affordable
Note to the Australian Government: It is good for the economy for women to be in the workforce.
OK – there is a case here, but what can I do? Please sign the Make Care Fair petition here. Having access to affordable and flexible childcare will benefit ALL Australians.