Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Child care sector growing

More families and children are accessing more approved child care services with better qualified workers than ever before, demonstrating the Australian child care sector’s growth.

Visiting an innovative child care centre in Melbourne today, the Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson released the findings of the 2004 Australian Government Census of Child Care Services, which highlights these growth areas.

“The latest child care Census builds on information gathered in previous censuses, giving an invaluable insight into child care users, staff and carers, as well as operational details of services in Australia,” Senator Patterson said.

“The Census is the most comprehensive data available on all child care services approved and funded under the Howard Government.

“The Census was conducted in March 2004 and the response rate was high (88 per cent), with 7,901 services responding, consequently the information can be regarded as highly representative across all service types.

” Key findings included:

  • There were more services – 270 additional child care services (a three per cent increase since 2002).
  • There are estimated to be more than 589 500 families and around 753 000 children now accessing approved child care (a 2.8 per cent increase since 2002).
  • The Government is providing more support for working parents. There are now around 160,800 children attending before and after school care services (an 8.6 per cent increase since 2002).
  • The Census also showed that 90 per cent of children’s paid for hours in long day care centres was for work related care, compared to 88 per cent in 2002.
  • There were an estimated 82,300 paid staff providing care in approved child care services (an 8 per cent increase since 2002).
  • The standard of care has continued to improve: child care workers are better qualified; in 2004 around 60 per cent of all long day care centre staff has some type of formal qualification relevant to the sector compared to 55 per cent in 2002.

“The Australian Government Census of Child Care Services has been conducted regularly since 1986 and the findings enable the Howard Government to monitor the growth of an area which supports Australian parents by giving their children the best possible start in life.

“The Howard government has doubled funding for child care, overseen an 83% increase in the number of child care places and provided a further 88,000 places in the last Budget. As a result families now receive an average of more than $2,000 per year in Child Care Benefit before taking into account the Child Care Tax Rebate,” Senator Patterson said.