Budget 2010: Daycare too big a slice of the cake

By Elizabeth Binning

Carol Curtis makes about $220 a week and pays $100 for daycare for her youngest children, Matilda and Henry. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Carol Curtis makes about $220 a week and pays $100 for daycare for her youngest children, Matilda and Henry. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Carol Curtis will probably have to take her two youngest children out of care and leave her job to look after them as a direct result of early childhood care funding cuts announced in the Budget.

Mrs Curtis sends Matilda, 3, and 13-month-old Henry to MiniMARC childcare in Mt Albert from Tuesday to Friday while she goes to work.

The part-time entomologist brings in only about $220 a week but it's enough to help with the bills - including $100 for the children's subsidised care - and she enjoys her work.

However, Mrs Curtis said there seemed little point in continuing if the centre was forced to raise its fees by up to $30 a week as a result of the Budget funding cuts.

"We are on a really tight budget already ... I'm on a really low wage and with a high mortgage and four children, it's really tight. It probably wouldn't be worth me going to work [if childcare fees increase].

"I'd probably have to take them out of creche and have them at home and they'd miss out because MiniMARC is a fabulous place. I can't give them the social interaction that they are getting there and they are with the most amazing teachers."

MiniMARC head teacher Meg Moss said the centre stood to lose up to $60,000 a year under the new funding scheme because six of its seven teachers were qualified and registered.

She said the centre already ran a "fairly lean" budget so there wasn't anywhere to cut the money from.

The other alternative - making staff redundant and hiring less-qualified staff - would have a "detrimental effect" on the quality of service the centre could provide.

That only left increasing fees - probably by $30 a week for each child who was in fulltime care. Many of the centre's children, like Matilda and Henry, are siblings so that would hit some families heavily.

"It's difficult to do anything else. I think putting fees up to parents is the only option."

- NZ Herald

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