While we are fortunate in Lane Cove to have Kindy Cove and Possum’s Corner, two council run childcare facilities, the prices are not affordable for all families. The fee schedule ranges from approximately $126-$132 per day for Kindy Cove, and $177-122 a day for Possum’s Corner. This adds up, particularly for families with multiple children, or for those who work fulltime. The cost of childcare in Australia has more than doubled since 2002, preventing families on lower incomes from accessing early education for their children.

Lane Cove Council could play a crucial role here by offering heavily subsidised childcare for low to middle income families to ensure that it was affordable for all those who need it. Council should also look at increasing the number of places on offer at Kindy Cove and Possum’s Corner. This would help to close the gap for children from low to middle income households, ensuring that they do not fall behind from the outset. Affordable childcare would also help primary caregivers move back into the workforce, helping to improve not only the families financial outlook, but also that of the broader economy.

Research clearly supports the benefits of early childhood education. It helps with a child’s educational and social development, improving their readiness for school. Without affordable childcare options for low to middle income households, we are creating a gap in society whereby some children are denied this important start in life.

The lack of affordable childcare options is also keeping primary caregivers out of the workforce. High early childhood education fees means that for many caregivers, most or sometimes all of their salary would go towards putting their children in early childhood care. For many, this means enrolling their children is not financially viable, so they are forced to remain at home, or to only work limited hours. The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey from 2019 found that this predominantly impacts women. Women often have lower take-home pay than men, meaning that they are often the ones who remain at home as the primary caregivers. Introducing subsidies for low to middle income families would help women get back into the workforce. This would help to remove one significant disadvantage faced by women. It would also help benefit the community more broadly, as more people would be earning a wage which would help stimulate the economy.