The Australian Childcare Alliance (ACA) is a not-for-profit, member-funded organisation advocating for the future of Australia's children.
We work on behalf of long day care owners and operators to ensure families and their children have an opportunity to access affordable, high quality early learning services throughout Australia.


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BestStartInLife WebsitePic

Today  Australian Childcare Alliance (ACA) is proud to launch www.BestStartInLife.org.au  – a new website that presents ACA’s policy position in the lead up to the federal election.

ACA is calling on all sides of politics to support the policy objective of ensuring that every child in Australia has access to high quality, affordable and sustainable early learning services, and therefore the best start in life.

Among the top priority policies, recommendations include:

 

• an immediate revision of the Child Care Subsidy parameters so that all families qualify for 18 hours per week of subsidised access to early learning services, equivalent to meeting step 1 of the activity test; and

 

• an immediate extension of the existing Universal Access funding for 4 year olds, with a caveat that it is delivered equitably across of service types including the long day care sector in all states and territories.

 

a new funding arrangement to allow all 3 year olds to particate in a kindergarten/preschool program, with long day care recognised as a primary partner in the delivery of this program. This policy takes advantage of the age-appropriate, developmentally-appropriate and culturally inclusive environments and pedagogy that are already established in long day care services, therefore reducing the need for significant capital investment by government. 

 

“Affordable access to early learning services is a huge priority for many Australian families with young children, as well as those planning to have children.” ACA President Paul Mondo explained.

 

“ACA believes that all children have the right to attend a high quality early learning program, regardless of their background of family’s life choices.”  

 

“As it stands, the new Child Care Subsidy (CCS) which was introduced on 1 July 2018 does not provide a minimum level of subsidised access to early learning services for those children whose families do not meet the activity test, reducing their capacity to afford early learning services.The benefits of high quality Early Childhood Education and Care are now well recognised and acknowledged locally and globally across the education sector, so it doesn’t make sense to deny affordable access to this cohort of Australia’s children.” 

 

ACA believes that with the right policy and financial frameworks in place, Australia could be a world leader in the delivery of high quality early Early Childhood Education and Care within 10 years.

 

ACA welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the policy considerations for all parties in the lead up to the next federal election, and we urge our stakeholders to do the same, in the context of ensuring that every child in Australia has access to high quality, affordable and sustainable early learning services, and therefore the best start in life.

 

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A recent report commissioned by the Australian Childcare Alliance (ACA), the Early Learning and Care Council of Australia (ELACCA) and Australian Community Children’s Services (ACCS) explores the factors that influence the demand for, and supply of, child care services across Australia.

This independent analysis, prepared by Urban Economics, examines the results of a recent national survey of child care operators, looking at available places, enrolment, performance and key issues influencing individual centres and the sector more broadly.

 

The report reveals that the net increase in long day care centres in 2017 was roughly 2-3 times the estimated number of new centres needed per annum to meet future demand.   

 

“If the same growth is to be continued in the coming years, there is likely to be an enormous impact on the viability of all services.” ACA President Paul Mondo said.

 

“Whilst we know that oversupply is a growing issue in some areas, there are still some locations where demand outstrips supply. It is important for decision makers to understand how these few communities can be better supported to supply access in that space, be it metropolitan or rural.”

 

In terms of occupancy rates, the report indicates that while these are diverse across regions, significantly, around 20% of regional and remote centres across all states demonstrated occupancy rates of less than 60%

 

The report calls attention to that fact that the early learning sector operates under a unique set of circumstances, the result being that increased supply in this sector simply will not bring prices down to increase affordability for families. 

 

In a typical market scenario, the price of a service would be influenced by both the level of demand and supply and specifically, would be expected to decrease with additional supply. 

 

However as childcare in Australia is subsidised by the Federal Government and includes a high level of fixed costs (wages, rent and mortgages), prices are relatively inelastic, and typically do not decrease with increased supply and competition. 

 

In fact, a centre which is substantially underperforming due to a local oversupply situation may increase fees to offset costs, close rooms or in a worst case scenario may cease operation; removing choice and accessibility for the communities in which they locate.

 

“ACA has been closely monitoring the relationship between low occupancy levels and the oversupply of early learning services in certain geographic areas over the last couple of years.” Mr Mondo said. 

 

“This report effectively illustrates that increased supply does not bring costs down for families. This is an important issue affecting the affordability of early learning for Australian families, which government intervention could influence.” Mr Mondo said.

 

“Australia’s Pharmacy Location Rules have proven that government regulation can indeed deliver greater access to services for more Australians. ACA believes that the government also has a role to ensure responsible investment in the early learning sector.” 

 

The complete report is available pdf here (1.86 MB) .

 

“ACA will continue to engage with the Federal Government and State Governments on this important issue, with a view to ensuring a sustainable early learning sector that continues to provide families with affordable high quality early learning services, thus giving Australia’s youngest generation the best start in life.” Mr Mondo concluded.

 

CBA Early Learning Report

ACA and the Commonwealth Bank are proud to launch the inaugural edition of the CommBank Early Learning Insights Report - an analysis of sector trends, performance, and key challenges among Australia’s early learning service providers.

This report uses the data collected under the National Childcare Barometer survey, before Bankwest rebranded some of its services as Commonwealth Bank. 

Our sincere thanks go out to those of you who completed this survey earlier this year and therefore contributing to this report. 

It is clear from this year’s research that the early learning sector as a whole continues to come under pressure on a number of fronts.

Occupancy rates, upward pressure on wages, and fallen profits have all been identified as issues for some centres. However on balance,  confidence across the sector has experienced a moderate year-on-year uplift.

From a day-to-day operational standpoint, the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) was a huge factor. Many service providers are also concerned about new market entrants and rising competition within the sector,however, we are seeing many respond with a heightened focus on quality improvement as centre operators seek avenues to drive higher occupancy.

You can access the CommBank Early Learning Insights Report here

Bringing the heart of Australia together this Christmas Colour tile ACA logo

As Christmas 2018 approaches, ACA is proud to join forces with our friends at Foodbank to support this year's fundraising initiative for families doing it tough this festive season.

Many families with young children across Australia experience food insecurity (a lack of access to a sufficient supply of affordable and nutritious food).

According to the Foodbank Hunger Report 2018, over 4 million Australians have experienced uncertainty around where their next meal is coming from in the last 12 months. This is an in increase of 400,000 people since the 2017 report.  

Australians living in regional and remote areas are 33% more likely to have experienced food insecurity in the last 12 months than those living in cities. 

Sadly children represent 22% of all food insecure Australians

This year's "Bringing the heart of Australia together this Christmas" appeal aims to allow those families struggling to put food in their cupboards to enjoy some essential food items this Christmas, enabling them to bring their family together, celebrate and create new memories.

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The Australian Childcare Alliance (ACA) commends the Labor Party on their recent announcement to extend access to 15 hours per week of subsidised kindergarten/preschool to three-year-olds for the first time, if Bill Shorten wins the next federal election.

Mr Shorten has committed to giving both three and four-year-olds access to 600 hours of preschool or kindergarten in a $1.75bn funding commitment.

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The early learning sector has observed the issue of oversupply becoming more and more of a problem in recent years.

With few barriers to entry for new or existing providers to set up new centres, the saturation of childcare centres in certain geographic areas has led to many services experiencing lower utilisation  or  being squeezed out of business.

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On Wednesday 5th September, early learning service owners across Australia, along with the families using their services, celebrated Early Childhood Educators Day 2018

Whilst services and families chose to say thank you in their own special way, the one thing their activities all had in common was a sense of heartfelt appreciation. The warm sentiments and the sense of community was unifying.

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The early learning sector’s transition to the new Child Care Subsidy (CCS) has been unprecedented for all stakeholders in terms of the complexity of the new processes, the challenging timelines and the unexpected outcomes. For early learning service providers, the task of preparing themselves for the new system and seeking to understand the impact of the changes both operationally and on families has been all consuming. 

ACA believes it is important to review the impact of the CCS to date and reflect on whether its implementation will improve early learning outcomes for children and families. Our aim is to identify areas for improvement, with a focus on equitable access to early learning for all Australian children as well as supporting the sustainability of the sector.

scam alert

ACA is warning our members and even non-members not to get tricked by a scam email appearing to originate from a Juliet Jurjenns at ACA NSW, with a link to an invoice, asking for payment - this email is a scam. It does not represent ACA NSW or ACA - it is a fraudulent representation designed to trick you into clicking on a link (possibly installing malware) and possibly giving a scammer your money.  

Please DO NOT to click on the link to the invoice - just mark the email as 'junk' and then DELETE the email.

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The Department of Education and Training (the Department) has informed ACA that it will manually process a significant number of sessions in which the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) was not applied, for ongoing families who were absent from care during the transition period.

This decision was made following the concerns raised by ACA and the sector, that the new system had denied many families their eligible subsidy based on a technical glitch.

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Over the last few months, the new Child Care Subsidy (CCS) has been the main focus of the early learning sector, with the implementation date set for 2 July this year.

ACA ran a short sharp survey to ask our members how they were feeling about the impending implementation of the new Child Care Subsidy as the transition date approached, and the key areas for which they needed guidance. Many thanks to those of you who took the time to complete our quick quiz! 

 

Are you ready

The Department of Education and Training (DET) has recently sent out an email to remind early learning service providers that May 31st is the deadline to submit the online Transition Form for the new Child Care Subsidy.  According to DET, 30% of providers have not yet completed this process and as such are not yet ready for the introduction of the new Child Care Subsidy.

Service providers that haven't yet done this are urged to log onto the new Child Care Subsidy System (CCSS) immediately to complete and submit their online Transition Form.

New CCS Estimator

The Department of Education and Training (DET) has recently announced two new developments surrounding the new Child Care Package and the new Child Care Subsidy:

1/ Online calculation of fortnightly $ support for families

Families can now calculate the level of fortnightly financial support they can expect to receive using Centrelink's Payment and Service Finder

This online tool will ask families a set of questions about their circumstances, in including their shared income and estimated hours of work/study along with the hourly rate of their particular Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) service, to provide an estimate of their fortnightly Child Care Subsidy. 

New CCS Facebook

The new Child Care Subsidy package, which will include a new payment known as the Child Care Subsidy (CCS), is due to be fully implemented on 2 July this year.

The CCS will replace the Child Care Benefit (CCB) and the Child Care Rebate (CCR) and will be paid directly to Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) services on behalf of families.

As the changes surrounding this new package will affect more than 17,000 service providers across Australia and over 1.2 million families using ECEC services, ACA  has produced some simple educational materials to ensure that all of our members and their families understand what they need to do between now and July to ensure a successful transition to the new system. 

TAS draft policy

Following the Tasmanian Government's recent release of their Draft Policy to guide co-location of Early Childhood Education and Care and Department of Education Services, ACA Tasmania (ACA Tas) has written to the Department of Education, Minister for Education Jeremy Rockcliff and Shadow Minister for Education Michelle O'Byrne, expressing a number of concerns regarding the content.
 
ACA Tas believes that inadequate sector consultation in the initial development of the policy has created a poorly conceptualised policy with significantly confused strategic intent.