A critical shortage in childcare places is forcing young families to leave Port Lincoln so that both parents can continue to work, Centre Alliance Candidate for Grey, Andrea Broadfoot, revealed today.
Andrea labelled the situation “completely and utterly unacceptable” and has committed to tackling the issue “head on” if elected at Saturday’s federal election.
She claimed highly qualified professional women have not been able to return to work after having children because they cannot access childcare in the city.
“I have spoken to women whose maternity leave concludes on June 30, and the lack of available childcare places has forced these women and their families to seriously contemplate remaining in Port Lincoln if they have to resort to being on only one income permanently,” Andrea said.
“All the childcare businesses in Port Lincoln have huge waiting lists,” she said.
“One mother who contacted me has a substantive role as Director of Early Childhood Education in Port Lincoln and is unable to secure childcare for her three young children to allow her to return to work.
“Her family is seriously considering the option of her husband working part time so they can juggle caring for their children.
“This situation needs an immediate review to ensure funding is allocated to ensure more childcare placements can be opened up, and/or new childcare facilities established in the town.
“I believe there is a priority system that child care centres are supposed to adopt with the first priority being abused or neglected children, the second priority is parents with a disability, those who are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, single parents and working families, and the third priority is everyone else.”
Andrea revealed she has investigated allocations for funding for the electorate through the Community Child Care Fund (CCCF), which is part of a new child care package, providing grants to services to reduce barriers to accessing child care, particularly in disadvantaged, regional and remote communities.
She said CCCF grants are offered to child care services to address barriers to participation – in particular in disadvantaged communities – including those experiencing viability issues and provide capital support to increase the number of child care placements in areas of high demand.
“Port Lincoln Children’s Centre did receive some funding in the last round but this does not appear to have translated to additional places or infrastructure upgrades that will address the unmet demand,” said Andrea.
“It is clear to me that a proactive approach is needed so that additional resources can be allocated for parents to be able to work,” she said.
“If elected, I am committed to solving this issue for the many working families right across Grey impacted by this chronic shortage.
“I spent much of my own twins’ childhood as a single working parent and I understand the importance of quality regulated child care so that I had peace of mind they were well cared for when I went to work to provide for them.”