Quality child care should not be a market risk

Watching Insight on SBS – Holding the baby – there seems to be general agreement amongst the researchers that almost all parents would rather not have their babies in care at under 6 months, and amongst the child care workers present that a ratio of 1 carer to 3 children would be ideal up to the age of 2 years. Unfortunately I was interrupted before the end of the discussion on how to fund childcare – but I did hear one audience member advocating that all funding go to individual parents as cash for them to spend as they wished. I couldn’t disagree more – this only fosters private provision for profit. Standards are better enforced if community based care is publicly funded to provide it and supervised by parents on democratic governing bodies. Then parents advocating improvements in centres are advocating on behalf of all children, rather than behaving as paying customers/consumers pursuing only their own interests – and only having the power of changing centres, disrupting their child even further if they are dissatisfied. Work based and family day care could also be funded, but cash to parents to spend in the market does not produce quality, in the most important aspect – reduced ratios. It would be a shame if the market had to be discredited by collapses and scandals in child care the way the financial market is currently being discredited. The market is too risky to care for our kids.

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