$246 Million Nanny Pilot Programme to Support Families in Work
The Abbott Government will provide support to families who struggle to access affordable child care services when working, studying or looking for work by establishing a $246 million two year pilot programme to extend subsidy support to home care services provided by nannies, Minister for Social Services, the Hon. Scott Morrison announced today.
“The two year Interim Home Based Carer Subsidy Programme represents the first major tranche of the Abbott Government’s new child care package and will provide subsidised care for about 10,000 children, especially in middle to low income families,” Minister Morrison said.
“This initiative demonstrates that the Abbott Government understands there are many families in work and wanting to work who find it difficult to access mainstream child care services.
“Key workers such as nurses, police officers, ambulance officers and firefighters, as well as other shift workers, are too often unable to access child care and take advantage of government support because of the nature and hours of their work.
“The same is often true for families in rural and regional areas and those who have children with special needs, for whom mainstream child care services are often inaccessible, lack the necessary flexibility or do not cater for their specific needs.
“While acknowledging the importance of levelling the playing field for families needing more flexible child care services, the government will be proceeding carefully with subsidising nannies to avoid any unintended consequences.
“We also want to ensure the programme is well targeted and insulated as far as practicable from abuse.
“The two year pilot programme will determine whether a more sustainable programme can be affordably put in place for in-home care nanny services, including necessary integrity measures and quality standards.
“Trialling a range of family circumstances will help to determine the best settings for delivering child care in a child’s home under the child care subsidy.
“The government will be working with employee organisations such as police associations, and other key stakeholders to establish the programme and identify participants in the pilot scheme which will commence in January 2016.
“Government assistance will be provided by way of an hourly subsidy to be paid per child towards the cost of using a nanny. The subsidy will be paid directly to services and will be adjusted according to family income, consistent with the broader child care subsidy model soon to be announced.
“The Productivity Commission Report into Childcare and Early Childhood Learning recommended nannies be an eligible service for government assistance to families. The Commission found that for some parents, particularly those undertaking shift work such as nurses, police and emergency service personnel, nannies are used because working arrangements do not fit within standard operating hours of long or family day care. This is also the case for families in regional and rural Australia.
“This has been reinforced to the government through our targeted consultation process as part of the development of our families’ package. Increasingly nannies are being used by families to make sure they can meet their workforce commitments. Parents doing shift work or working irregular hours need the reassurance that their children are safe and happy in their home while they work to support their family, as do those families in rural or remote locations or those with other accessibility issues.
“A major focus of the pilot programme will be on services in rural and regional areas. The government will be taking an incremental and balanced approach to the pilot. Nannies are not meant to replace mainstream child care services but we want families to be able to choose the care type that suits them best, including using nannies in addition to other forms of child care.
“I look forward to working closely with the sector to implement this pilot programme and to ensure we get the best possible outcome for Australian families and their children.
“The Coalition Government is committed to developing a child care system that is more accessible, flexible and affordable and better meets the needs of modern families to be in work,” Minister Morrison said.
Families and service providers will be able to apply for the pilot later this year and must meet approved guidelines. This will include safeguards similar to those applied in family day care such as outlawing ‘children swapping’ practices and ensuring that people providing informal care are ineligible, such as other family members. Only families on incomes below $250,000 per year will be eligible for support. The total subsidy paid to a family also cannot exceed the amount paid to a nanny.
To be eligible for subsidy, nannies will be required to be attached to an approved service.
Service providers will be selected through an open tender process. Applicants will be required to demonstrate how they will provide support for families and nannies, including contractual and insurance requirements. Existing service providers in family day care and long day care may also elect to become involved.
Nannies must be 18 years of age and have a current Working with Children Check and first aid qualification but will not be required to hold a minimum early childhood qualification.
The National Quality Framework will not be a requirement for the pilot programme. The government will leave it to parents to decide if they wish to engage a nanny with formal educational qualifications. There will be no differential subsidy provided in these circumstances.
The pilot will commence on 1 January 2016 and run until 31 December 2017. Provision has been made to continue support at the same level beyond the trial period, as an on-going measure.
More information about the Interim Home Based Carer Subsidy Programme will be available on the Department of Social Services website at www.dss.gov.au