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Childcare centres, Nannies, waiting lists, and working after hours

By 27 March 2012 14

There’s an interesting discussion going on over at smh about the Mad monk’s proposed nanny benefit.

We’ve all been here- by we I mean working parents, solo parents etc. You know the drill- Child care centres full, waiting lists, requiring care after the standard 9-5 work schedule because you may be a shift worker, rushing to the childcare centre before 6pm to avoid the “red pen fine”…. Would you consider pooling with other parents that perhaps you’ve met at playgroup, and share the expenses of a carer in your home (or take turns with the other parents), even if it means that you still have an option to work while waiting to get into a childcare centre?

I know throughout the years, of parents that already do this kind of care in canberra, but would a nanny subsidy mean that you can pay your carer above market-rates and ensure low turn-overs etc? Economies of scale if you have 2 children, and your neighbour has 2 type scenario? Perhaps you don’t qualify for the childcare rebate, but your single mum neighbour with the 2 kids working 2 part-time jobs could piggy-back on that sort of care and get the childcare rebate? That may be there is an opportunity for some childcare centres to specialise in extending trading hours to say 8pm to accommodate those of us who have unusual work hours? Or even in-house care agencies that only take permanent bookings (as opposed to occasional care aka baby-sitting) to meet the demands on childcare vs the limited supply.

Would love to hear what everyone else thinks as I think we have the highest amount of mums and dads working/ women going back to work early in the country (my own observation).

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14 Responses to
Childcare centres, Nannies, waiting lists, and working after hours
threepaws 6:33 pm
27 Mar 12
#1

The waiting lists for childcare centres are ridiculous. I have had my name on the list at six centres since November 2010 (when pregnant), and I’m not even close to getting a place. I have since returned to work part time and was lucky enough to find a fabulous family day carer. I have now left my name on the lists at centres out of sheer curiosity, just to see how long it actually takes before I receive that long awaited call.

In one of my many phone calls to the centres trying to scrounge a day or two so I could work, I asked why, if the demand is so high, that there aren’t more centres operating? The short answer was ‘too expensive to set up and run’.

Mr Threepaws is a shift worker and could actually care for Baby Threepaws some of the time thanks to his rotating roster. We can’t actually do this though – of course we have to book a permanent place, and we can only have a certain amount of absences per year before the government pulls the pin on the rebate (which is fairly hefty).

In answer to your questions, in my experience of searching for care, there are very few (if any) places that offer flexibilty outside of normal working hours and allow for fixed rotating rosters or shift work. For people under these conditions, a nanny would be the best option. However, the expense of a nanny is prohibitive for most unless you have more than one child in care.

I am only assuming that nannies need to be suitably qualified and must adhere to the same ratios as family day carers (at any one time, four children under school age and three children of school age ie before and after school). If you had two families in the same street with four littles and three biggies between them, I think a nanny would be a good choice!

Do nannies charge for time or per child?

Jurls 12:17 pm
28 Mar 12
#2

threepaws said :

The waiting lists for childcare centres are ridiculous. I have had my name on the list at six centres since November 2010 (when pregnant), and I’m not even close to getting a place. I have since returned to work part time and was lucky enough to find a fabulous family day carer. I have now left my name on the lists at centres out of sheer curiosity, just to see how long it actually takes before I receive that long awaited call.

You probably won’t even get a call. I’m just going through the process now and a couple of centres have asked me to ring back every 6 weeks or so and have basically said that if they don’t hear from people they assume that they’ve found care and are no longer looking.

Unfortunately it’s also impossible to tell how long the waiting lists really are as everyone is putting their name down on multiple centres and often not taking their name off so it’s impossible to guess what the waiting times really are.

I want to return to work but am not prepared to start job hunting before I’ve got childcare confirmed. It’s a tedious process but I’m lucky because I don’t know what I’d do if I had to work….

sepi 12:31 pm
28 Mar 12
#3

Spaces come up in childcare in December/Jan and Feb and rarely at other times of year.

There are just not many spaces to go around. a childcare baby room may have 9 or 12 babies a day (kids up to 2), and of those not many families will leave town, or babies turn two in the space of a year, so for any good childcare centre, they will only get about 5 new babies in a year, and those will be siblings of other kids at the centre who have priority.

It gets slightly easier for kids over 2, but still very hard to get in.

For those who are in a centre, Canberra’s growing peak hour traffic is making the 6.00 pick up harder and harder. I have suggested our centre stay open til 6.30 but the staff were not keen.

I think any centre that opened late would be overrun, but they would have to run a bus to all the other centres to pick up the kids at closing time – if parents had to leave work to move the kids over it would defeat the point.

madamcholet 1:17 pm
28 Mar 12
#4

Mr Cholet and I were talking about how good it would be to have a nanny the other day or rather to make it more affordable, a nanny share. My son is in day care four days a week – two of those in family day care and two in a day care centre. He loves the day care centre but is getting bored with family day care – just not enough to interest him. We can’t get four days at the day care centre as they don’t offer that amount of days, which is understandable as they would find it hard to off-load the fifth day.

Being able to share a nanny with another family would certainly take the load off of day-care centres, however there does need to be minimum qualifications applied – perhaps not so stringent – but you can’t just get a rebate for having the old lady next door look after them.

Back in my heyday when I was not yet Australian, I did a one year course at Montessori in London. That was all I needed to get a diploma in childcare. I was then let loose on unsuspecting children at the ripe old age of 19. Perhaps needs to be a bit more rigorous than that though.

I have so far been lucky enough to structure work so that we can drop off Master Cholet around 8am and pick him up at 4.30, but I know that might not be the case in the future. I detest the thought of after-school care or leaving him for so long at day-care that I don’t get any quality time with him at the end of the day that is not interrupted by making meals, bath time, and ultimately his relatively early bed time.

The thing that annoys me more than the lack of choice in child care, is the fact that Master Cholet will not be able to go to school until he is 5 and a half. because his birthday is mid-year I went to school before I turned 5 as there was a spare spot available. I had no experience of child care or kindy, nothing, but did not find going straight to school too traumatic. I think our children are ready for school earlier because of the fact that they have been in child care since they can remember. Couple that with the financial side of things and I think parents are aching for school days to come along! For the cost of day-care at the moment, I could send Master Cholet to Canberra Grammar.

I’ve cast an eye over pre-school around my area and it just does not fit with what I could do in terms of minimum hours at work – have to earn that crust unfortunately and I have to do it between longer hours than 9-3!

I believe that au-pairs/home helps can be tax deductible. It’s whether or not you trust them with your children is the question. Plus you may have to provide accommodation which is not possible or wanted in most cases.

p1 1:20 pm
28 Mar 12
#5

I am really not looking forward to having to deal with this in the increasingly near future.

I do wonder though, if at some point things will come full circle and a parent will just stay home and look after the kids while the other works 9 to 5 in an average job while earning enough money to support the family?

Chop71 1:28 pm
28 Mar 12
#6

p1 said :

I am really not looking forward to having to deal with this in the increasingly near future.

I do wonder though, if at some point things will come full circle and a parent will just stay home and look after the kids while the other works 9 to 5 in an average job while earning enough money to support the family?

and who will pay off the $500k+ home loan?

sepi 1:30 pm
28 Mar 12
#7

The other problem with nannies is that they get sick, or can just up and leave suddenly, and then you have no care whatsoever.

Our daycare centre offers 4 days – we did that. i was a bit miffed as 5 days heavily discounted to be almost the same as 4 days, but they have changed that now anyway.

Our daycare picks up a group of kids from the local preschool at 3. Unfortunately it is not our area preschool. I’m not sure if the parents still have to pay for the whole day either.

Chop71 1:32 pm
28 Mar 12
#8

If you read between the lines, this would not cost the government (well a smart one anyways) that much at all. It would actually capture alot of cash in hand nannys who have not been paying tax on their income for years.

Maybe the mad monk isn’t so mad after all (or he has a smart advisor somewhere who actually came up with an OK idea)

pink little birdie 1:47 pm
28 Mar 12
#9

I’d say the rebate would be tied to agency nannies where they can regulate qualifications and hours, you get a replacement if they call in sick.
Lots of nannies would be happy to work cash in hand for slightly less than $20 per hour… (it’s hourly rate not kid based) Most of these are uni students studying education/early childhood. Cash in hand won’t qualify for the rebate though.

Interesting enough when I wanted a nanny job I listed my details on a website on the friday… went away for the weekend and had a job which kept for the last 3 years of my education degree…. Cash in hand.. but it was for a nice family who adjusted for my schedule. School holiday camps for when I uni holidays weren’t school holidays. When the children were sick I had them the whole day or from after am classes…

screaming banshee 8:29 pm
29 Mar 12
#10

Chop71 said :

p1 said :

I am really not looking forward to having to deal with this in the increasingly near future.

I do wonder though, if at some point things will come full circle and a parent will just stay home and look after the kids while the other works 9 to 5 in an average job while earning enough money to support the family?

and who will pay off the $500k+ home loan?

No one put a gun to your head forcing you to buy a McMansion

Jethro 9:00 pm
29 Mar 12
#11

p1 said :

I am really not looking forward to having to deal with this in the increasingly near future.

I do wonder though, if at some point things will come full circle and a parent will just stay home and look after the kids while the other works 9 to 5 in an average job while earning enough money to support the family?

Plenty of families already do.

We sacrifice the big house, new car, etc, but it is plenty possible for families to survive on one average income, and one part time (a few evening nightfill-style jobs) a week.

I personally don’t see the point of having kids if you see them for 3 hours a day during chore time.

p1 9:44 pm
29 Mar 12
#12

I certainly did not by a McMansion. In fact I bought exactly the kind of house young families bought in the seventies – that is exactly when the former owner bought it. Difference is that back then the mortgage repayments were a much smaller percentage of the average wage.

milkman 10:06 pm
29 Mar 12
#13

p1 said :

Difference is that back then the mortgage repayments were a much smaller percentage of the average wage.

Granted, but lots of other costs were much higher.

dungfungus 10:45 pm
29 Mar 12
#14

Contraception can ease the problem a lot.

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