The childcare industry in Australia can be referred to as interesting. Stakeholders of this industry have really enjoyed the growing trend of childcare over the recent period. Considering the increase in the number of child care services, one might believe that it is solely beneficial for them as a customer. Most parents prefer childcare services because of the improvement in quality and availability. The increase in competition of child care led to consistent upgradations in these services.
This change can boil down to only one conclusion. It’s the increasing proportion of working parents who didn’t have enough time to take care of their child. Nevertheless, the parents don’t blindly trust any other child care service. They have a set of preferences and priorities. The customer-oriented market, coupled with a few legal restrictions changed the whole scenario of the childcare industry in Australia.
Availability and Cost of Childcare
One of the most significant priorities set by parents was the cost and availability respectively. What’s interesting to note that even though the cost of childcare increased, the number of children admitted to such services was also on the rise. It’s because of the improvement in quality and better availability.
As the number of childcare services increased, most parents could find them in their backyard. This led to the shift in preferences that kept availability above cost. Earlier, only 6% of the parents’ income was spent on child care. And now, this number is increasing day by day. So it’s clear that the customer-oriented market demanded better availability and not a significant reduction in the cost of childcare.
But ask yourself, would you choose child care only if it’s readily available? Probably no, right?
The National Quality Standards
A national standard entered to boost the already popular industry. The concerned authorities in Australia emphasized on conducting regular quality checks so that child care services in Australia meet the criteria. At that time, the marketing plan for child care centres shifted from “low cost” to “meeting the quality standards”. Even though parents didn’t have quality as their first preference, the safety concerns were still there.
National quality standards not only suggested meeting the educational needs, but they also covered child safety as a major consideration. The Council of Australian Governments adopted a framework that harmonized and formalized the quality of formal child care. For this purpose, they set the following standards.
- Children to staff ratio (minimum and maximum)
- The qualification of the caretaker
- The curriculum and educational program
- The physical environment
- Collaborations with families and informal sectors
- Child safety everywhere on the premises
- The relationship with children
You’ll find that anywhere in these standards, there is no mention of the cost. So, it was a free play of demand and supply provided that the services adhered to the above standards.
The Compromises to be Made
Now, there is an abundant availability at affordable rates with adequate quality standards set by the authorities. We guess that is all that the parents need for their children.
What we know that there is no perfect child care service out there. Both parties, including the customers and service providers, had to make some trade-offs. Let’s take a look at what each of them had to compromise.
- The child care services how to consider the quality along with keeping the costs reasonable. Now, both of these factors are inversely proportional to each other. So, they compromised on the customers who significantly preferred one of these factors over the other. As they have to maintain a balance, they couldn’t compromise on both.
- The mothers were also in a dilemma as to which child care centre will be perfect. So many options left them confused. Moreover, there was an informal sector that included babysitters, grandparents, etc. who what also competent in childcare. More than half the mothers choose the formal sector, and about 1/5 children were still babysat by their grandparents. The increase in the cost of childcare was the compromise made by the parents.
The Bottom Line
To sum up the current scenario of child care management system, we can say that even though some compromises are made, the growth is quite apparent. Also, we don’t think that it’s going to decline anytime soon. Both of the parties are satisfied with some new entrants seeking opportunities. So, all in all, it’s a healthy sign.