Subsidised child care for firies, ambos, police and nurses
FEDERAL Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry has welcomed a new federal trial to help emergency shift workers to access new forms of subsidised child care services in their home.
The trial, known as the Interim Home Based Carer Subsidy Program, will provide support to emergency workers such as fire fighters, police, ambulance officers and nurses.
It will also provide support to other eligible families who struggle to access affordable child care services when studying, working or looking for work, families in rural and regional areas, middle to low income families and those who have children with special needs.
Ms Landry said the project involved a $246 million two-year pilot program to subsidise the use of home care services provided by nannies for families who are juggling to meet affordable or conventional child care with shift work or study.
"Capricornia families continue to tell me that the cost of child care in conventional centres is almost unaffordable and often the opening hours do not suit shift workers," Ms Landry said.
"This project is the first major step of the Liberal-National Coalition Government's new child care package to be funded in the upcoming Federal budget.
"We promised we'd focus on families in the upcoming budget and this trial is the first step in looking at viable options to help families balance their child care commitments unusual working hours or study hours."
Ms Landry said people such as nurses, police officers, ambulance officers and firefighters, as well as other shift workers, are too often unable to access child care and take advantage of government support because of the nature and hours of their work.
"I want to stress that this is a trial programme. It will not replace conventional child care facilities, but offer some families more affordable and flexible choices to suit their work and study hours," Ms Landry said.
A Productivity Commission Report into Childcare and Early Childhood Learning recommended nannies be an eligible service for government assistance to families.
The Commission found that for some parents, particularly those undertaking shift work such as emergency service personnel, nannies are used because working arrangements do not fit within standard operating hours of long or family day care.
The two year pilot trial will determine whether a more sustainable program can be affordably put in place for in-home care nanny services to permanently help families meet affordable child care arrangements, Ms Landry said.
How the trial will work:
- The government will be working with employee organisations such as police associations, and other key stakeholders to establish the program and identify participants in the pilot scheme which will commence in January 2016.
- Government assistance will be provided by way of an hourly subsidy to be paid per child towards the cost of using a nanny.
- The subsidy will be paid directly to services and will be adjusted according to family income, consistent with the broader child care subsidy model soon to be announced.
- A major focus of the pilot program will be on services in rural and regional areas. Nannies are not meant to replace mainstream child care services, but allow families to be able to choose the care type that suits them best, including using nannies in addition to other forms of child care.
- Families and service providers will be able to apply for the pilot later this year and must meet approved guidelines.
- The focus will be on middle to low income families. (Lower levels of subsidy will be provided to those on higher incomes, with a maximum cap).
- The total subsidy paid to a family cannot exceed the amount paid to a nanny.
- To be eligible for subsidy, nannies will be required to be attached to an approved nanny service. Service providers will be selected through an open tender process.
- Nannies must be a minimum of 18 years of age and have a current Working with Children Check and first aid qualification.
More information about the Interim Home Based Carer Subsidy Programme will be available on the Department of Social Services website at www.dss.gov.au