Page 3181 - Week 10 - Thursday, 17 September 2015

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yet another change in government, albeit within the same political party, but nonetheless a new Prime Minister.

As this motion touches on, and as Minister Burch has also illustrated, child care in the ACT covers a spectrum of care types, from nannies or au pairs to family day care and from small, community-based occasional care services to dedicated, larger childcare centres.

As the peak body for family day care describes it, family day care is an approved form of child care that is provided in the family day care educator’s own home. Family day care educators are early childhood education and care professionals, registered with a family day care service that is responsible for approving, supporting, training and advising its educators. Further, family day care operates under the same national quality framework as other forms of child care, incorporating national regulations, quality and qualification standards, educational frameworks and an assessment and ratings process. Parents who choose family day care are also eligible for the same federal government childcare benefit and childcare rebate subsidies as centre-based care.

As mentioned, last year’s budget saw a tightening of eligibility for the community support program. The community support program provides funding to childcare providers offering services in areas where they might not otherwise be viable or which meet the unique needs of a particular community. The new criteria effectively restrict eligibility for CSP funding to family day care services that are the sole provider of family day care in a surrounding area, with weighting towards services that are providing care in regional, remote or disadvantaged areas.

I do not pretend to be an expert in this area, and the particulars of the impact of this restricted eligibility on ACT providers has not been raised with me personally, but I understand the childcare and early education sector is clearly asking for more time and consultation on a range of issues. The ACT needs to be able to clearly articulate our commitments to the sector in terms of overarching policy for the full continuum of childcare service providers, and to do so we also need that clarity from the commonwealth.

This debate also includes outstanding recommendations from the Productivity Commission, paid parental leave and, as the motion notes, the growing need for long day care places. This is a complex and interwoven area of public policy that touches on the lives of most, if not all, families in the ACT, of course both now but also for years to come.

As we have seen in recent times here in Canberra, the community have a special relationship with their childcare providers. Some of the older centres have a special place in the hearts of parents who themselves once attended the same centres they are sending their own children to. While the face of the industry or the sector has changed over time, we are very lucky in the ACT to have a combination of providers and services, and it is important to ensure we have the regulatory framework and policy guidelines to support a wide range of childcare and early childhood education options that parents want.

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