The cost of child care has sky-rocketed, with some centres charging as much as $165 a day for each toddler.
That’s almost $40,000 a year – a huge slice out of a family’s income and which would seriously cause you to question the value of going to an office to work, as opposed to starting a business from home.
According to Kids Club, a Clarence St centre close to Wynyard Station charges $165 a day for a toddler under 2 years of age, $160 for 2-3 years and $150 for 3-5 years.
A child care centre in Fairlight, a northern Sydney suburb, costs $186 a day for a toddler under 2 years of age and $150 for 3-5 years.
Depending on the suburb, the cost of child care can vary significantly.
The most expensive areas are around Sydney Harbour, CBD, Manly, Mosman, Hunters Hill, lower North Shore and eastern suburbs where fees average $120 a day.
The further you get into suburbia, the cheaper it gets. Child care operators in Campbelltown, Liverpool and Mount Druitt charge $65 a day. Prices plummet as you move out of Sydney to the coastal town of Thirroul near Wollongong where it costs $50 a day for each child up to three years of age.
A growing number of young mums are finding that all, or the bulk of their salaries, go directly to child care payments which leaves little financial incentive for these women to work.
Some parents try to rort the system by “centre hopping” their children from one centre to another, leaving a trial of unpaid fees, according to The Sunday Telegraph.
The country’s largest debt collection agency Prushka said unpaid child care fees is a growing problem especially among single parents, those on benefit or in casual employment. This has forced some centres to take several parents to the small claims tribunal.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, from 2012 to 2017, wages increased by 12.6 per cent while child care costs shot up by 44.5 per cent.
It has been forecast that child care fees will rise by up to 22 per cent over the next four years, pushing the cost of child care to the point where some mothers would be working almost for free after paying tax and childcare fees.
In Sydney rates will hit $223 a day, Melbourne $175, Brisbane $157, Canberra $152 and Adelaide $138 by 2020.
Child care costs vary from provider to provider and from state to state. They are not regulated by the government. Most child care centres charge a minimum daily or hourly rate. Some places include everything including food and nappies while family day care, require parents to provide everything.
While the government’s current Child Care Rebate (CCR) covers up to $7500 per year a child, the average family will still be out of pocket almost $5000 each year.
The best way to determine the cost of child care in your area is to contact a few child care services and check out their prices. You might find that sending your child to a neighbouring suburb may be cheaper.
Here is Canstar’s comparison of six different child care centres.
For more information, read the full article on Canstar’s website
Essentialbaby.com.au offers some hints on how to beat high childcare costs:
Hire an au pair:
One mum told the site she hires an au pair for $200 a week – and she has a room three meals a day, a TV and wi fi access. Standard au pair rates are around $200 a week for 35-40 hours, plus full board and room. However, there is no childcare rebate for au-pairs.
Hire a Nanny
Personalised one-on-one care in familiar surroundings, following their own natural rhythms and routines, and you don’t have the stress of drop off and pick up. But at around $25 an hour, if you only have one child this can be an expensive option. Essentialbaby.com.au says one way to minimise costs is to nanny share
A family daycare educator cares for a small number of children (less than four preschoolers) in her own home. Educators are registered with a family daycare service that is responsible for approving, supporting, training and advising its educators, so you are getting a trained professional. This can be a less expensive option than a childcare centre, as you only pay for the hours you actually use