Budget cuts threaten 200 Qbn child care places

Peita Swaysland (centre, in pink) and local family day care educators rally in support of the community-based child care model, which is under threat due to funding cuts in this year's federal budget (PHOTO: David Butler).

Peita Swaysland (centre, in pink) and local family day care educators rally in support of the community-based child care model, which is under threat due to funding cuts in this year's federal budget (PHOTO: David Butler).

QUEANBEYAN could soon lose up to 200 child care places following cuts to Family Day Care contained in this year's federal budget.

Queanbeyan Family Day Care currently caters to around 170 local families, and some 200 Queanbeyan children. The scheme, which is administered in-part by Queanbeyan City Council, enables qualified early childhood educators to provide child care in their own homes.

It's set to lose $150,000 each year in federal funding from mid-2015 after the Commonwealth recently tightened eligibility for the scheme.

According to local educator and recent winner of this year's Family Day Care Educator of the Year for Goulburn/Southern Tablelands, Peita Swaysland, the budget changes will either drive up costs for parents significantly, or force the whole scheme to fold.

"Basically we're losing half of our annual operating budget," Mrs Swaysland said. "And if that goes ahead we'll have to up our fees to cover it. It's just making child care unaffordable for a lot of families.

"At the moment, we're the only [family day care] scheme in Queanbeyan, so if we close, people are going to have to find child care spots for 200 children, or they're going to have to stay home from work."

Family Day Care is a different model of child care which enables trained educators to be contracted by parents to supply day care at the educator's home. However educators are required to meet the same training standards as their child care centre colleagues, including a minimum qualification of a Certificate 3 in Early Childhood Learning studies, and full first aid, asthma and allergy training.

"People have a misunderstanding that we're just babysitters, but in recent years the industry has become a lot more professional," Mrs Swaysland said.

"We've got 38 educators here in Queanbeyan, and we look after about 200 Queanbeyan children. So that's a lot of kids that have to find care if we have to fold," she said.

A Queanbeyan Council spokesperson said it would be reviewing the viability of the scheme in the coming months.

"Every Family Day Care Scheme in Australia will be reviewing their current service model and fee structure to determine what changes will need to be made to offset the shortfall in operational funding and maintain viability of the scheme," the spokesperson said.

"Council staff are currently considering options to offset the shortfall in funding and this information will be provided for Council's consideration over the coming months."

- For more information on changes to family day care, or to sign a petition to support the scheme, visit www.familiesneedfamilydaycare.com.au.

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