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ABC Childcare Centres

By shanefos - 27 November 2008 48

With ABC Childcare Centres having gone belly-up and the Federal Government having forked out however-many millions of dollars to keep the centres open, the Canberra Times has a story about the ABC Childcare Centres in the Canberra region that will be “subject to further review”.

ABC Childcare’s webiste has an extended list here.

Given how hard it is already to find childcare places in the ACT, if the listed ABC centres close it is going to cause a world of pain for a lot of families.

And the obvious flow-on – parents having to stay at home to look after their kids – will be just one of the effects.

Businesses will be affected, Public Service productivity will be affected.

The extreme cynic in me can’t help asking though, if all of these parents end up having to give up work to stay at home with the kids, their vacated positions will need to be filled, won’t they? So, won’t that have a (granted, very small) positive impact on the employment/unemployment figures? (i.e. “X-number of new jobs were created this month”).

Anyway, I really feel for any families that will be affected by the (possible) closures of these centres.

Personally, I’ve had to take numerous days off work over the past few months in order to look after the kids. But, luckily, I am in a position where a day here or there isn’t going to lose me my job (I’d hate to work for a less forgiving and less understanding employer!) and my kids don’t go to an ABC Childcare Centre.

Anyone else on RiotACT have any first hand experience of the woes of getting good, ongoing childcare in the ACT?
Anyone personally affected by the ABC debacle?

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48 Responses to
ABC Childcare Centres
shanefos 12:51 pm 27 Nov 08

Thumper said :

I know it’s tough and all that but seriously, if you can’t afford it then don’t have kids.

Or if you do, then cut down on the new car, the new TV, the boat, stereo, etc…

Helpful as always, Thumper. Thanks!

emd 12:41 pm 27 Nov 08

I have been on one of the “subject to review” ABC centre waiting lists in the past, as it was closest to my work, but knew I’d never actually get a place there. I was 95th on the list, last I checked. I am currently on LWOP as I haven’t been able to get care for all my kids in the same centre on the same day, which means I can’t go back to work. Although that should change as the oldest will start school hours next year, so provided I can get after-school care then it will be fine. It’s quite common for mums on mat leave to keep the kids in childcare one day a week just to retain access to the childcare centre – easier to get more days in a centre you already use than get any days at all in a centre you don’t currently use.

Family Day Care programs may pick up more children with the demise of some ABC centres. But FDC isn’t ideal for everyone, and isn’t necessarily the best alternative employment for former ABC staff. We need to have both centre-based and home-based care available, staff need stability in their employment, parents need reliability in their care provider, and children need QUALITY care rather than just economically viable care.

Thumper 12:33 pm 27 Nov 08

I know it’s tough and all that but seriously, if you can’t afford it then don’t have kids.

Or if you do, then cut down on the new car, the new TV, the boat, stereo, etc…

thetruth 12:20 pm 27 Nov 08

I feel for all the folks struggling to find childcare at a reasonbale rate have just got my last of six out of care. BUT it is one of the costs of having kids… it is not a surprise, if you cannot afford to get them cared for maybe you cannot afford kids in the first place….the baby bonus dosn’t go far.

If it is left to the government to provide child care places and make the investment in capital – they will always underfund it. There are a lot of well run private businesses that didn’t borrow to the kazoo to expand like ABC did – a private sector is vital to ensure that the investment is made and that the centres can follow the demand.

I fear that an issue that started with a “perfect storm” of events – banks in the US were forced by law to make loans to folks that they previously wouldn’t have on the basis of risk ie sub-prime, followed by a hands off prudential controls regime, cheap interst rates and in my mind dishonest rating agencies – would result in a whole lot of sub-optimal re-regulation and big Government in other areas like child care. If I thought Government would do better I would support it – but history does not shine well on Government run businesses either.

Feebles 12:03 pm 27 Nov 08

For me it’s two days a week, one is $80 a day, the other $100 a day. True, it doesn’t leave me with enormous take home pay after tax and child care, but it’s worth it for me. Obviously it won’t work for everyone, but for people who can afford it, it’s worth considering. I’m just putting it out there for them to consider if they haven’t thought about it before. A lot of mothers in my mothers group are struggling to find a place in a centre even without the ABC thing. This is a possible solution for some people (but obviously not all).

Jim Jones 11:53 am 27 Nov 08

But a lot of people simply don’t have the extra money to buy one-on-one care, Feebles.

Day care alone is up to something like $70 a day, and is only going to increase. If individual care is more than that, then that’s over $18k a year (if you do it 5 days a week).

Thinking laterally is fine (I’ll be coralling a lot of friends and their newborns into an informal childcare friendship group soon) – but most people are using childcare because they can’t afford NOT to work.

Feebles 11:38 am 27 Nov 08

I think people could think a little more laterally about childcare as there are alternatives to centres.

I went back to work last month and didn’t want to put my bubba in a childcare centre because I think that one carer to four kiddies is not going to provide him with the one-on-one attention that I want for him at this age (12 months). This also ruled out family day care and unfortunately I have no family here to step in.

So I advertised privately, and found amazing babysitters that way. It works out being a bit dearer as I don’t get the childcare rebate, but he’s thriving and so happy that it’s worth it for me. I don’t have to worry about him at all while I’m at work and I get the welcome reprieve that interacting with adults provides.

Jim Jones 10:52 am 27 Nov 08

The really strange this is that ABC childcare tanked because of their dodgy investment dealings and reliance on government subsidies rather than anything specifically relating to enrollment numbers (although they’ve been almost universally panned for operating badly and treating the ‘childcare’ component of their business as unimportant).

It’s a pretty complex affair – it’s been neatly summarised in Crikey.com over a number of articles. I’d suggest checking it out there for a clearer picture.

sepi 10:30 am 27 Nov 08

Ah Thanks.

It has already affected us. I’ve had to book two kids in right now for the maximum days I may want for all of next year (and start paying as of now), because the demand for places is now enormous, and if we don’t snap them up, someone else will get those days. So it’s already costing us money.

Wierd about the Russell one – it has a waiting list you can’t even get onto it’s so long. Strange if it’s not making a profit.

Jim Jones 10:27 am 27 Nov 08

Aranda, Jervis Bay and Russell.

The ACT doesn’t have the same amount of ABC run facilities as NSW and Victoria, so we won’t really be affected as much.

That said, there’s a massive shortage of childcare places in the ACT anyway.

shanefos 10:25 am 27 Nov 08

Russell, Aranda, Jerrabomberra and North Queanbeyan are on the list.

sepi 10:12 am 27 Nov 08

Could someone please list the four centres ‘subject to review’ I can’t read the pdf.

If parents are forced to leave their jobs that may force some of them out of their homes too – it would to us.

Jim Jones 9:50 am 27 Nov 08

I think that part of the problem will be that there won’t be extra places for childcare workers unless new childcare facilities are created.

There will be increased demand for childcare, but a complete lack of supply. This may drive up prices as well.

As for people being forced to stay at home to look after their kids – I’m not sure that this would have a positive impact on umemployment figures. Yes, they’d be leaving jobs that might be filled by other people, but that is essentially two people swapping their employed/unemployed status.

shanefos 9:32 am 27 Nov 08

Great point, Luther_Bendross.
However, you’d like to think that with the increased demand for childcare places there would also be an even greater increase in the demand for childcare workers, so staff from ABC wouldn’t have too much trouble picking up work elsewhere. Still, I would hate to be in their position.

luther_bendross 9:28 am 27 Nov 08

I can fully understand why there is so much emphasis on the parents of the children accomodated by these centres. They’ll have to stay at home and live off a single income etc, or even find another centre (I’m aware of the lack thereof). However, most people seem to be overlooking the staff of ABC. For them, it’s not a matter of having nowhere for their children to go during the working day, but having no income.

Parents who have some community consciousness (of whom there seems to be a higher concentration in Canberra) should try and support the staff. They have families too, and quite possibly no jobs.

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