National parent advocacy group The Parenthood has launched a campaign to see all childcare centre waiting list fees banned in Australia.
Their data found that in Sydney, in the inner west suburb of Leichhardt 60% of childcare centres are charging parents between $15 and $100 per child just to put their names on a waiting list. In contrast only 9% of childcare centres in the outer west suburb of Penrith charge for putting a child on a waiting list and they only charge between $10-$50 per family.
The Parenthood Executive Director Ms Sugden states “It appears that in the suburbs closer to the city where there is very high demand for childcare some centres are capitalising on parent’s desperation by charging waiting list fees.”
Childcare operators claim that this fee is to ensure that parents are serious when they put their child’s name on a waiting list, because parents put their child’s name down on several waiting list to ensure a place and then don’t call back to inform other centres that they have been accepted elsewhere.
I have a possible solution for that scenario – which would be to make the fee refundable. If a parent puts their child’s name down on two lists, and pays for both, then is accepted into one, then their fee should become a credit their account with that centre, and then parents have a pretty good reason to call and inform the other centre they no longer need care – because they’ll get their money back! Win-win.
Also, in their survey of more than a thousand parents, they found that 80% of parents support the introduction of a fully-funded public childcare system – which I agree would be pretty great if it meant more places for children, better quality of care, and better wages for carers.