Mum-of-three Yasna Alaina may be all smiles, but when it comes to scrounging up dollars to pay for childcare, her mood is not quite as cheery.
Mrs Alaina, of Brighton-Le-Sands says rising childcare costs have become a burden.
The disability support worker, 25, has three children – Zavier, 4, Adelina, 3, and Gabriel, 1, who are all in childcare, two days a week.
Even after government rebates, she pays $300 a week for care.
Her husband Anthony also works, but recently suffered a back injury.
“I work casual shifts and they aren’t guaranteed, so it’s stressful,” she said.
“We have to do a lot of payment plans. I ask my in-laws to help babysit probably once a week when I need to get that extra income. But there are families in worse situations than us.
“I’m also looking for a preschool for my son but that’s also been difficult because the wait lists are very long.”
The state’s peak industry body for early childhood education and care has this week called for an urgent public inquiry into the cost of childcare.
The Australian Childcare Alliance (ACA) NSW is pushing for a review of supply, red tape, regulation, and planning.
The proposed inquiry is questioning what it says is an over-requirement for the number of degree qualified full-time teachers per child in NSW compared to other states, long waiting lists and concerns about the government “not proving the benefits of the extensive regulatory and operational frameworks imposed on NSW operators.”
Chief executive of the alliance, Chiang Lim, says as politicians head to state elections in March and across the nation in May, now is the time to raise the issue of increased living pressures resulting from childcare expenses.
“These issues should be at the forefront of priorities for all parties,” he said.
“Can the government explain why there are waiting lists in some areas, yet chronic oversupply problems in other areas? This is pushing up the cost of childcare as well as leaving many centre operators struggling to stay afloat.”
In late 2018, the Australian Senate Select Committee on Red Tape and the Centre for Independent Studies concluded that childcare would continue to be unaffordable unless there was a comprehensive rethink.
But the federal government says that since its Child Care Subsidy was introduced in July 2018, out-of-pocket child care costs for families have reduced by 10.4 per cent, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ consumer price index.
“Our government’s Child Care Subsidy is designed to assist parents with the cost of child care while they’re working, training, studying or volunteering – and it continues to do exactly that,” education minister Dan Tehan said month.
NSW is also the first state in Australia to subsidise all three-year-olds in community preschools, under an investment of almost $200 million, announced this year.