A lack of information on the More Affordable Childcare Scheme and insufficient funding on how the scheme will be implemented has caused members of the Private Early Education Providers (PEEP) to be forced not to offer the scheme to parents.
PEEP is the national representative body for private childcare providers.
While the scheme is due to be rolled out in September 2017, parents seem to be unaware of the scheme, according to PEEP members, and childcare providers have yet to see a copy of the contract they are expected to sign to deliver the programme.
Despite repeated requests to the Department of Childcare and Youth Affairs (DCYA) vital information about conditions for provider’s who will deliver the scheme is not forthcoming.
Regina Bushell, Chair and founder of Private Early Education Providers, said, “It is now just two months before the More Affordable Childcare Scheme is due to be made available to families yet, both parents and childcare providers are still very much in the dark. Confusion abounds - parents are confused as to how they should register for the scheme and providers are confused about how the scheme should be implemented and managed. The success of the scheme relies on all providers across the country delivering it however, implementation of the More Affordable Childcare scheme is now very much in jeopardy as the providers’ requests for basic information is repeatedly ignored.”
“We cannot accept the current level of capitation being offered to providers by the Government to run the scheme. The Government proposes that financial supports for parents will be given directly to childcare providers for them to manage without fair or sufficient payment from the Department for providers to carry out this administration,” she added.
“We already spend endless hours inputting information to an I.T. system not fit for purpose, hours on the phone sorting out problems with government agencies as well as being expected to police parents for their child's attendance on government schemes, all in addition to our work of providing excellence in care and early education to the children attending our centres,” said Regina.
PEEP is urgently calling on the Government to furnish early years providers with details of the contracts they expect them to sign. As some childcare providers closed for summer holidays at the end of June, PEEP had requested that all information be made available in May to give parents and providers time to prepare for the new scheme, however this request has been ignored.
“We are calling on Minister Zappone to provide us with a draft of the terms of the contracts by the end of the week. As business people we cannot be expected to sign up to something we have not seen,” Regina added.
“The Government is banking on a majority of providers offering the scheme, however, at the moment some of our members have decided not to offer it as the increased administration will add further hours of unpaid work. Since the introduction of the Early Childcare Education (ECCE) scheme, which is hugely successful due to the providers who do a fantastic job, we have effectively become unpaid administrators for the Department. We cannot continue to shoulder the unpaid burden any longer - I don’t think it’s fair to ask that of anyone,” said Regina.
“As it stands there may be some very disappointed families in September who will not be able to find places for their children as part of the More Affordable Childcare Scheme, and nobody wants that to happen.”
“Department officials regularly comment on the high quality of care and education being provided across the country but we really feel ‘used and abused’ at this stage. However, we want to work with the Department - with fair administration cost and fair capitation we can help ensure that 70,000 children benefit from more affordable childcare,” Regina said.