When I sent my daughter back into care, it felt too good to be true. FREE childcare? For real? It may have taken a global pandemic but I was stoked. Recently, however, I’ve changed my tune.
I can’t wait to pay my daycare fees again.
Yes, you read that right.
When Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced fee-free childcare at the start of April, I, like many parents, breathed a huge sigh of relief.
I had already pulled my daughter out of daycare as per the health advice at the time, but to be paying for days I wasn’t using was a real sting in the family budget.
Then, when I decided to send her back one day a week, it felt too good to be true. A whole day of FREE childcare?
Recently, however, I have changed my mind.
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THE EMAIL I HADN’T EXPECTED
I am currently on maternity leave and am meant to be returning to full-time work in July. I have a super clingy baby so I wanted to map out a strategy about how best to integrate her into full-time care, so I shot off a note to our campus director.
This is an extract from the email I received in return:
“At this stage, I cannot confirm a start date, unfortunately. We are still working in the background with some transitions to create spots in our nursery rooms however we are also waiting on some other factors which must be considered during the current coronavirus climate.
“The current government funding model makes it impossible for us to remain at full capacity and so we have had to keep families at reduced days and hold off on any new enrolments for the short term.”
I ASSUMED THE GOVERNMENT HAD IT COVERED
It hadn’t even occurred to me that the centres were being impacted in this way. I had sort of assumed the government had it covered and, from the day care’s point of view, business was carrying on as usual (stupid in retrospect, but there you go).
Turns out, while there is a rescue package in place, it’s simply not enough. Many childcare workers are ineligible for JobKeeper payments and some centres have reported to be operating at a loss.
The reality of that is that some businesses will be forced to shut their doors and others, like mine, have had to figure out ways in which to limp along.
‘I’M NOT SURE WHAT I’LL DO’
Personally, in this time of economic uncertainty, going back to work has never seemed more important. Yet as I write this, I have nowhere to send my children. I don’t know yet if my eldest will be able to resume her normal days, and currently it’s a flat out “no” for my youngest.
So what do I do? Hire a nanny? Seek out a new daycare (which let’s be real, seems unlikely.) Attempt to work from home with a three-year-old and a baby? Impossible.
What I want to do is send them to a high-quality educational centre, where I know they will be looked after by trained professionals with kindness and care. I want those professionals to be paid for their time and love, and I want the centre they work in to have everything it needs in order to function.
So unless the government can develop a scheme in which this is a reality, yes, I am more than happy to pay.
In fact, I can’t wait.
This article originally appeared on Kidspot and was reproduced with permission