Lifestyle

Child care costs eating up casual workers' incomes

PROBE NEEDED: Kids on Calton teacher Tracy Salter, with Ella Wyllie and Hayden Godden.
PROBE NEEDED: Kids on Calton teacher Tracy Salter, with Ella Wyllie and Hayden Godden. Tanya Easterby

SOCIAL and economic pressures have made life harder for stay-at-home parents and not much easier for those who work.

Inquiries by The Gympie Times yesterday showed the issues facing working parents are of concern also to those who stay home; the children themselves and those who care for them during the working day.

Housing costs in a competitive market have meant working is no longer an option for mums or dads, it is economically essential.

It is also economically impossible for many, because it requires the institution of professional child care.

And that requires flexible working arrangements and subsidies.

With the days long gone when one income could buy a house and educate a family, the society which compels both parents to work is seen as having an obligation to make this feasible.

Gympie's Jody Allen, whose Stay At Home Mum website has turned her from full-time mother to business owner, says employers like her need to make more flexible arrangements for staff.

"I find many of my friends want to go back to work, but when they do, 90% of the money goes back to child care.

"I'm not complaining. My kids went to Kitiwah (Kitiwah Place Child Care) and they're fantastic.

"But most parents can't afford child care.

"People are struggling, so need a second income, but they can't put all the load on parents and grandparents.

"Shift workers have extra problems again," she said.

"Many find they are behind after tax. Some are $10 better off."

Tracy Salter of Kids on Calton says the work of the Productivity Commission is important.

Child care businesses are squeezed by regulatory requirements, which are important but not always affordable without subsidy.

Tony Morris of Kitiwah Place Early Learning says the system works well in many respects and the government needs to be careful tinkering with it.

Topics:  child care costs editors picks gympie jody allen

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