Childcare and Early Childhood Learning

Draft report

This inquiry has concluded. The final report was sent to Government on 31 October 2014.

The release of the final report by the Government is the next step in the process. Under the Productivity Commission Act 1998, the Government is required to table the report in each House of the Parliament within 25 sitting days of receipt.

When the Government releases the report, a copy will be sent to all registered participants including those who made submissions, appeared at the public hearings, or were visited by the Commission. At that time, the report will also be available for download from the inquiry website.

This report was released on 22 July 2014. You are invited to examine the draft report and to make written submissions and to participate in public hearings.

See also

Printed copies

Printed copies of the full report can be purchased from Canprint Communications.

Childcare and Early Childhood Learning Draft Report Released

The Productivity Commission today released its draft inquiry report on Childcare and Early Childhood Learning.

'Our recommendations seek to make childcare more affordable, flexible and accessible. Furthermore they will provide a framework for a more financially sustainable childcare system for taxpayers into the future,' Presiding Commissioner Dr Wendy Craik said.

The Childcare and Early Childhood Learning report is a draft report and the Productivity Commission will continue to seek feedback before this report is finalised at the end of October this year.

'It was clear from our research and the many comments and submissions that we received that childcare and early childhood learning play a vital role in both child development and workforce participation. However, our current system does not meet the needs of all families and the costs of supporting the current childcare system are increasing at an unsustainable rate for taxpayers,' Dr Craik said.

The report proposes three key areas of funding for Childcare and Early Childhood Learning (Childcare): Mainstream childcare services; Children with disabilities and additional needs; and Preschool.

'Some of our key recommendations include replacing the current multiple childcare subsidies with a single subsidy that would be paid directly to the parents' choice of provider, and be means and activity tested. The subsidy would be based on a set reasonable cost of care,' Dr Craik said.

The recommendations for means testing a single childcare rebate would still see all eligible families receiving a minimum of 30% of their reasonable childcare fees reimbursed by taxpayers. Further options for assistance however remain under consideration.

'Means-testing the childcare rebate will mean that more families on very low incomes will pay less for their childcare than they do now. We expect low income families would see around 90% of their reasonable childcare fees paid by Government,' Dr Craik said.

Other key recommendations from the draft childcare report include:

  • Nannies being eligible for childcare subsidies subject to appropriate qualifications (au pairs would not be eligible).
  • Removing restrictions on the number of child care places for occasional care and the hours that centres have to be open in order to receive Government subsidies.
  • School principals being responsible for ensuring schools offer before and after school care, including care for preschoolers.
  • A continuation of Government support for access to preschool for all children in the year before starting school.
  • Increasing funding and subsidies for children with disabilities and additional needs.

'The Productivity Commission supports retaining the National Quality Framework and extending it to other subsidised services but it needs to be more flexible and targeted for the types of services provided,' Dr Craik said.

The Productivity Commission's preliminary economic modelling found that implementation of their measures would most likely result in up to 47 000 more full-time people entering the workforce. The economy-wide impacts of this are likely to be relatively small, with a GDP impact of, at most, an additional $5.5 billion, but the social significance of this should not be underestimated.

The Commission is inviting submissions on the draft report, its recommendations and information requests by 5 September 2014. The Commission will hold public hearings in various locations during August.

Please note the draft report and video footage is available to view via the Videos tab.

Further information

Leonora Nicol (Media, Publications and Web) 02 6240 3239 / 0417 665 443