Australian Bureau of Statistics
1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2002
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/01/2002
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TRENDS IN CHILD CARE
This article summarises the results of the ABS Child Care Survey, a household survey conducted most recently in 1999.
In 1999 just over half of all children aged under 12 years (1.6 million) received some form of formal and/or informal child care in the week prior to interview. While the proportion of children using child care increased markedly from 38% in 1984 to 52% in 1990, it fluctuated around 50% in subsequent surveys (1993, 1996 and 1999).
Type of care
The pattern of formal child care varies considerably with age. Among very young children aged under 1 year, 9% received some type of formal care in 1999 (table 7.12). This increased rapidly from age 1 (24%) to age 4 (73%). Long day care was the most common type of care for children under 4 years, attended by 5% of children under 1 and increasing to 26% of 3 year olds. Preschool was the major type of care received by 4 year olds, with 49% of children in this age group attending, followed by long day care (22%). Children aged 5-11 years were less likely to receive formal care (12%) than younger children. Those who did receive formal care were most commonly attending before and after school care programs (8% of this age group).
7.12 TYPE OF CARE BY AGE OF CHILD, 1999
Cost of child care to parents
The cost of child care varies considerably according to type of care and hours used. In 1999, the median weekly cost to families using formal child care was $22 per child (graph 7.13). The majority of these families (79%) used fewer than 20 hours of care per week.
Far less was spent on informal care, with the vast majority of children (89%) incurring no cost. This reflects the fact that relatives are the main providers of informal care.
Balancing work and family
Increasingly, employers acknowledge the need for workers to balance work and family responsibilities, and have introduced a range of provisions over the years to help families do this. These provisions include flexible working hours, permanent part-time work, home-based work and job sharing. In 1999, over half (53%) of families with children aged under 12 years, and with at least one parent employed, used one or more arrangements based on these provisions to help them care for children (table 7.14).
The most frequently used arrangements were flexible hours (33%) and permanent part-time work (23%), both of which have increased slightly since 1993.
7.14 WORK ARRANGEMENTS USED BY EITHER PARENT TO CARE FOR CHILDREN
Employed mothers were more likely to make use of family friendly work arrangements than employed fathers. In the 925,500 families with employed mothers in 1999, 68% of mothers made use of family friendly work arrangements. In the 1,286,700 families with employed fathers, 27% of fathers made use of such arrangements. The lower proportion of fathers using family friendly work arrangements largely reflects the higher proportion of employed fathers than of employed mothers with children under 12 years whose partner stays home to care for the children.
Flexible working hours (37%) were the most frequently used arrangement used by employed mothers, followed by permanent part-time work (34%) and working at home (15%). For fathers, the most frequently used arrangements were flexible working hours (18%), working at home (7%) and shiftwork (5%) (graph 7.15).
This page last updated 3 October 2007
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