Federal government launches Child Care Finder following latest list of centres sanctioned

Families first: The federal government is clamping down on dodgy childcare operators in NSW and is improving the search for centres online. Picture: Tanya Lake
Families first: The federal government is clamping down on dodgy childcare operators in NSW and is improving the search for centres online. Picture: Tanya Lake

A family daycare business that operated at Hurstville was among those that did not comply with regulations.

The Child Care Enforcment Action Register listed the centres that were the subject of a sanction and/or immediate suspension under the A New Tax System (Family Assistance) (Administration) Act 1999 (the Administration Act).

The Department of Education and Training publishes the services that have been sanctioned, online.

Kiddie Patch Family Day, which was operating in St George, was found not to comply with conditions including providing a false statement or document and fraudulent payment of fee reductions. 

The action was imposed in the first half of 2017-18. During this period, 25 centres had sanction cancellations and three were immediately suspended statewide.

It comes as the federal government announces that dodgy child care providers rorting or misusing Australia’s family day care system are being cut off from receiving subsidies.

There have been 155 sanctions and suspensions imposed on 144 child care providers in the nine months to September 2018.

Minister for Education Dan Tehan says the government is taking action to stamp out fraud in the child care sector.

“Our government’s crackdown on fraud and non-compliance in the child care sector has stopped around $2.8 billion of taxpayers’ money being ripped off,” he said.

“The majority of providers do the right thing and have nothing to worry about but if someone seeks to rort the system our government will take action.

“We have closed loopholes, stepped up inspections and are working more closely with security agencies to protect the integrity of the child care system.

“Our child care reforms are making child care more affordable for Australian families, as the recent CPI data revealed there has been an almost 12 per cent drop in out of pocket child care costs to families.”

Since January 1, 2014, 27 people have been charged with criminal offences for child care fraud and of those, 19 have been found guilty.

But a new online service that helps families find an approved child care centre has been launched, to provide greater support to parents and carers.

Child Care Finder enables families to see at a glance where vacancies exist, information about fees, opening hours, whether extras such as meals or nappies are provided and how providers rate against the National Quality Framework. 

The new service replaces My Child website and features improvements that enable parents to search for a provider using specific criteria such as the distance from their home or a price range – a similar experience to using a hotel-booking site.

From next year, parents will also be able to receive an alert when a vacancy that meets their criteria becomes available, further reducing time and effort. 

Mr Tehan says busy parents will welcome the new service.

“A one-stop-shop where the information is easy to use and easy to understand will help parents make informed choices about where to send their kids for child care,” he said.

“The website is part of our government’s reforms to childcare that are making the system fairer, stronger and more flexible, supporting working families as they balance work and family life.”

Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation Michael Keenan said childcare was the first of many services that will undergo significant digital makeovers in the period ahead to improve convenience for those who rely on them.

“As part of delivering the Digital Transformation Strategy, the Department of Human Services has developed Service Connect, a new whole-of-government platform that will connect Australians with trusted service providers,” he said.

“Child Care Finder is the first service to be hosted on Service Connect, but in the future, Australians will use the platform to access all of the support services they need.”