Australian parents are celebrating an early Christmas gift – the scrapping of public holiday fees at Australia’s largest early learning provider.
Goodstart Early Learning has announced it will no longer charge families on public holidays, a practice which families have long lamented is unfair. New Year’s Day will be the first free public holiday under Goodstart’s new policy.
“As a not-for-profit, we believe access to high quality early learning should be affordable and equitable and this change will make it fairer for our families,” said Chief Executive Officer Julia Davison.
“We’ve had to balance that with the need to be able to pay our operating costs. Our children and families are at the heart of everything we do at Goodstart and we have worked hard to find a way to implement this major change in our pricing policy.”
Some fee increases to come
Goodstart will become the first large early learning provider in the nation to stop charging on public holidays, with the provider saying the change won’t impact staff, who’ll continue to be paid for the public holidays they’re entitled to. Goodstart does admit there will be a fee increase of around $3 per day, less any Child Care Subsidy, to allow the changes to be made and still meet wages and rent costs.
Goodstart also says there will be exemptions – families paying for six-hour sessions or two-day nine-hour kindergarten sessions will be exempt from any increase so that at-risk and vulnerable children still have access to quality early learning and care.
“By averaging the costs across all days that we are open, families can now book for care knowing that they will only pay for days that the centre is open,” Ms Davison said.
Ms Davison says the majority of families will still be better off under the change however a small percentage of families would see a slight increase across the year. “Our centre directors will work with all families to ensure they get the most out of this change, particularly in relation to our session offers and the impact on their Child Care Subsidy.”
Next year, four of the nine nationally observed public holidays fall on a Monday, with four of the eight states and territories are declaring an additional public holiday which also falls on a Monday. It means many families are paying for four to five days of childcare a year they don’t use – adding up to $1000 before subsidies for some parents.
“This will no longer be the case which we think is a much fairer system and highlights our commitment as a social enterprise to work with our families and our people to provide better outcomes for all children.”