Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

New funding arrangements secure viability and sustainability of child care services

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, today announced new funding arrangements for the Child Care Support Program to continue to secure the viability and sustainability of childcare services, particularly small operators in remote and rural areas.

Senator Patterson said a review of the Child Care Support Broadband had recommended a change to the funding arrangements as well as a new name – the Child Care Support Program.

In 2004-05, the Howard Government is providing $226 million to this program, an increase of $25million on 2003-04. Over the 4-year period from 2004-05 to 2007-08, the Government will have provided an additional $133m for the Child Care Support Program.

Senator Patterson said “This better targeted funding will assist parents in accessing childcare in areas where a service may not be viable, by providing financial assistance to not-for-profit services under the Child Care Support Program.

“The new model comes after extensive consultation and is about meeting the needs of families by ensuring that future Australian Government funding is directed to identified areas of need and that child care services are funded for the actual number of places they are providing.

“In the past, many services estimated the number of children they provided care for throughout the year, meaning many have been funded for more children than for whom they are providing care.

The new model will ensure services are funded based on the number of children for whom they are actually providing care, rather than in the past, where they may have received funding for what could have been an inflated estimate.

“These new funding arrangements will allow immediate access to increased funding for over 370 services. Additionally we will be encouraging services that may be eligible who do not currently receive financial assistance to submit an application.

“In particular families in rural and remote areas will benefit from the changes where smaller services operate as the new arrangements will ensure the service’s long-term viability.

“To support services who will be affected by these changes, I have ensured that there are transitional funding arrangements. Services will continue to receive current funding for three months commencing July 1 2005 and may also be eligible for further transitional funding for up to two years.

“While some services will have a reduction in funding, they will be supported with additional help through temporary financial assistance and access to qualified business and financial advisers. An estimated 300 services will have access to this support within the first 3 months.

“This new funding arrangement follows my efforts since taking over the portfolio to review all aspects of the Howard Government’s commitment to child care to ensure that we have the most efficient use of taxpayer’s dollars.”