Maccas pays more than childcare industry - centre director

Sheri Laidlaw from Elfin House Child Care has some ideas on how to improve childcare in Australia. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin
Sheri Laidlaw from Elfin House Child Care has some ideas on how to improve childcare in Australia. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin Chris Ison

DURING her 13 years in the childcare industry Sheri Laidlaw has seen plenty of people come and go.

The director of Rockhampton's Elfin House Community Childcare Centre puts it down to the qualifications and expectations of the role not matching wages.

"The average worker can earn more per hour at McDonald's than working on the floor in a childcare centre," Sheri said.

Speaking to The Morning Bulletin yesterday about the Productivity Commission's draft report into Childcare and Early Childhood Learning, Sheri said closing the pay gap was just one way to improve the industry.

The draft report, released yesterday, aims to make childcare more affordable and create a more financially sustainable system for taxpayers in the long term.

Recommendations include means testing the rebate, with low income families eligible for up to 90% back on fees, and streamlined subsidies being paid directly to the chosen centre.

Sheri said the recommendations would only act as a "bandaid solution" rather than improving the system for the future.

While she agreed there still needs to be means testing, Sheri said the rebate should be given per child in childcare.

But Sheri said the streamlined rebates being paid direct to a centre would be beneficial for parents.

"It will just take the stress off them," she said.

Sheri said many families with two parents working and a child in daycare found that one salary was almost entirely dedicated to childcare fees.

But Sheri said families in Rockhampton fared better than their capital city counterparts spending an average of $80 and $85 per day, compared to more than $100 a day at centres in Brisbane.

Ultimately, Sheri said this put a strain on families emotionally and financially, leaving them questioning whether it was worth returning to work.

The final report will be handed down at the end of October.

Caring for our kids

Key recommendations from the draft report:

  • Replace multiple subsidies with a single rebate paid directly to chosen centre
  • Means testing of the rebate, with eligible families receiving a minimum of 30%
  • Nannies to be eligible for subsidies
  • Restrictions removed on number of places and hours of operation needed for centres to receive subsidies
  • Schools to be responsible for before and after school care
  • Continuation of government support for all children to go to preschool a year before starting school
  • Increased funding for children with disabilities and additional needs

Source: Productivity Commission

Topics:  career childcare productivity commission

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