Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Massive increase in child care places

Thousands of extra child care places have been announced in a package of Budget measures totalling over $260 million as part of the Howard Government’s Welfare to Work package.

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson today said that over the next four years over 84,300 Outside School Hours Care places, 2,500 Family Day Care places and a further 1,000 In-Home Care places would be made available.

“The measures will support the work first approach of the innovative welfare reform package and show the Howard Government’s continued commitment to Australia’s parents and children. They will also meet projected unmet demand over the next four years,” Senator Patterson said.

“The additional places costing $210 million, will be available over four years beginning in 2005-06, in the areas of Australia where there is demonstrated need.

“The Howard Government will also provide $55 million over four years to support 52,000 low income families to meet the ‘gap’ in child care fees, ensuring that child care costs are not a barrier for parents in making the transition from income support to employment. To further support that, we will improve the efficiency of the Jobs Education Training (JET) Child Care programme.

“The package includes practical support to help some parents return to the workforce as Family Day Care workers. This will include grants to Family Day Care workers, more Vocational Education and Training places for parents and older workers and a communication package to address the shortage of child care workers.

“We will also alter the base level of participation required to satisfy the Child Care Benefit work, training, study test. To be eligible for more than 24 hours of Child Care Benefit a week, both members of a couple will need to demonstrate they have ongoing work, or work related activity, equivalent to an average of around 15 hours a week each.

“This package will provide the additional child care necessary to reduce barriers parents face in moving from welfare to work, as well as address current demand,” Senator Patterson said.