NSW employers laud state's childcare investment as 'good news' for business

Groups say state's move is 'warmly supported'

NSW employers laud state's childcare investment as 'good news' for business

Focus on education and childcare support in the upcoming New South Wales state budget “would be a win” for the business community across the state, according to the business organization Business NSW.

The NSW government said in a media release that it would invest up to $5 billion over the next decade to expand the people’s access to high-quality and affordable care.

For Daniel Hunter, Business NSW chief executive, the pre-budget announcement reflects a government with its priorities focused on enhancing the quality of the education system.           

“The key announcement around affordable childcare along with more places being made available will provide greater stability for parents who often have to make anguished decisions between their own careers and the care of their children,” he said.       

Long-term, Business NSW said it expects that the education package would help address the literacy and numeracy challenges that business communities often experience with school leavers.

Cost-efficient for families

Based on NSW’s media release, under the new education package, a middle-income Sydney family with one child in full-time childcare that benefits from the investment would save up to $3,900 a year, while the equivalent family living in regional NSW with two children in childcare would save up to $7,800.

“We know that childcare places are scarce in some postcodes, making it difficult for parents to return to paid work when they want,” NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said. “Improving accessibility to childcare by investing in supply will provide practical assistance to families with young ones.”

Increased economic opportunity for women

Aside from the reduced expenses for families, the childcare reform would also help improve women’s economic opportunities by increasing the female workforce and closing the gender pay gap.

“Childcare costs impede the dreams of women across NSW because many women are only able to keep about 30 cents in each dollar they earn when they return to work,” Matt Kean, NSW treasurer, said.

Under the childcare investment, Kean said an estimated 95,000 women are expected to enter the workforce or take on more hours, pulling down the gender workforce participation gap by up to 14% within a decade.

According to Hunter, one of the upsides of the education package for business communities across the state is that the investment will result in the growth of workforce participation which is a “key strategy to address skills shortages, by particularly encouraging more women back into work.”

Accessibility to affordable childcare supply

With the educational package, Minister for Women Bronnie Taylor said that it would also boost the childcare supply right across NSW.

“This package will help break the childcare drought by targeting areas with the least access to affordable childcare, which poses the highest disincentive to parents returning to work,” she said.           

Additionally, early childhood education and care providers will be allowed to apply for funding to deliver more accessible and affordable care, according to Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell.            

“This is one of the most important things we can do to give children the best start in life, helping young children develop their social skills and open up lifelong opportunities from their earliest years,” she said.

Fund allocation

The NSW Government’s proposed investment will be under the Affordable and Accessible Childcare and Economic Participation Fund.

According to NSW’s media release, the fund is expected to:

  • Provide grants to childcare providers to expand infrastructure and establish new centres
  • Target areas with limited access to childcare centres or where a shortage of childcare places poses the highest disincentive to parents returning to work
  • Complement the Commonwealth’s demand-side childcare policy framework through flexible supply-side funding
  • Invest $775million over the next four years
  • Trial new service models to meet the needs of modern families

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