Before and after school child care shortage leaves Tasmanian parents in lurch
Source : ABC News -> By Rhiana Whitson
A booming economy in southern Tasmania and more parents working is leading to growing waiting lists for before and after school care, according to childcare providers.
They also expressed concern that plans to lower the school staring age would further drive demand and a lack of space at schools would lead to more parents missing out on accessing care.
There are about 300 out of school hours (OOSH) care programs in Tasmania, which are mostly run out of schools by childcare providers and local councils.
Ros Cornish, chief executive of childcare provider Lady Gowrie, said the company had managed to reduce its waiting list in the Hobart City area to 39, but it was likely to grow this year.
She said more space at schools was needed to be made available to increase place numbers.
“Already we have issues with older children using kindergarten space, sitting on little chairs, small toilets, that’s inappropriate,” she said.
“We need to work with the [Education] Department on that, but I say we are we are already starting that planning and strategizing,” she said.
Ms Cornish was concerned the Government’s plan to lower the school starting age in 2020 would make it more difficult for parents to get OOSH care for their children.
“I think then there will be more demand because many of those children will want the wraparound care, after school care, before care, and vacation care, so I think there will be pressures coming later on,” she said.
Early and late care makes work 'more flexible'
Monique Wickham, who has been using Lady Gowrie for three years, said the service was crucial.
“Now that the service is open from 7:30am it means that my work day has more flexibility in it,” she said.
“So whilst the boys are OK, they are enjoying themselves, it means I can maybe squeeze in another breakfast meeting.”
Ms Wickham said without access to such a service she and her partner would have to rethink their jobs, if not careers.
The Howrah Primary School OOSH care, which is run by Clarence City Council, has a waiting list of 34.
Carina El Saouda has only been able to access one morning and one afternoon of care for her two sons.
“I have gone to get more work to help pay the mortgage,” she said.
“If I don’t have those extra hours coming in it is going to affect us with the mortgage, with the bills.”
Ms El Saouda wanted the Education Department to work more closely with service providers to ensure all working parents had access to care.
“If I can’t access before and after school care, then I can’t work,” she said.
Higher demand an opportunity for providers: Rockliff
In a statement, Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff said the Education and Care Unit worked closely together to regulate OOSH care.
He said lowering the school starting age was a great opportunity for the education and care sector to grow their business with rising demand.
According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies last year 65 per cent of couples with families and dependents had both parents working.