27 September 2023

Families returning to childcare services

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A new survey from the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) has found that the number of parents using childcare services has mostly returned to pre-COVID-19 rates.

“This is despite parents having better access to working-from-home arrangements,” the survey stated.

Lead Researcher, Jennifer Baxter said the Families in Australia Survey: Towards COVID Normal found that among the 2,167 parents surveyed in November-December 2020, 47 per cent were using formal child care.

“This compares to our survey in May-June 2020 where just 26 per cent of parents were using approved or formal care at the height of the pandemic,” Dr Baxter said.

“Many parents initially withdrew their children from child care in response to a range of factors, including parental job losses, increased rates of working at home, and financial and health concerns.”

She said that, as a result, only half as many parents were using child care in May-June 2020, compared to 52 per cent pre-COVID.

“During May-June 2020, the percentage of parents using parent-only care jumped to 64 per cent, up from 30 per cent pre-COVID,” Dr Baxter said.

“Concerns for children’s health (44 per cent) and parents being home more (32 per cent) were the main reasons they reduced their use of formal child care,” she said.

“Parents deciding to return to using formal child care reflect the important role that childcare services have in contributing to children’s wellbeing and development, and supporting parents’ employment.”

Dr Baxter said about three in four parents reported in November-December 2020 that the child care they were using fully met their needs and availability and cost were the most often cited barriers to parents having their formal childcare needs met.

The Institute’s 12-page report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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