4402.0 - Child Care, Australia, Jun 2005 Second Reissue  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 19/11/2008   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All



1 This publication contains results from the Child Care Survey conducted throughout Australia in June 2005. The Child Care Survey is a continuation of a series of surveys on this topic conducted since 1969. The previous survey was in June 2002. The main aim of the survey was to collect data on the use of child care for children aged 0-12 years, and some aspects of families' requirements for formal care. Information was also collected on the receipt and non-receipt of the Child Care Benefit (CCB), and the income and working arrangements used to help care for children of parents with children aged 0-12 years.

2 The Child Care Survey was conducted as a supplement to the Labour Force Survey (LFS). The monthly publication Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) contains information about survey design, sample redesign, scope, coverage and population benchmarks relevant to the LFS. It also contains definitions of demographic and labour force characteristics, and information about telephone interviewing relevant to both the LFS and supplementary surveys.

3 From April 2001 the LFS has been conducted using a redesigned questionnaire containing additional questions and some minor definitional changes. These changes also affect the supplementary surveys. For further details, see Information Paper: Implementing the Redesigned Labour Force Survey Questionnaire (cat. no. 6295.0) and Information Paper: Questionnaires Used in the Labour Force Survey (cat. no. 6232.0).


4 In October 2003, the ABS began the progressive implementation of computer assisted interviewing (CAI) into the LFS (and its supplementary surveys). Under CAI, interviewers record responses directly onto an electronic questionnaire in a notebook computer. In the 2005 survey, the CAI method was used for all survey interviews. The change of interviewing method is not expected to have affected the Child Care Survey estimates in any meaningful way.


5 Information was collected in relation to children aged 0-12 years living in private dwellings. This was a change in scope in 2005 compared with previous surveys, which covered children aged 0-11 years only. See paragraph 13 for more information.

6 The survey excluded children visiting the dwelling and students at boarding school. Persons excluded from the LFS are:

  • members of the Australian permanent defence forces
  • certain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments, customarily excluded from censuses and surveys
  • overseas residents in Australia
  • members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependents) stationed in Australia.

7 In households where all adults were out of scope of the LFS, no information was obtained for the Child Care Survey. However, as long as at least one adult in the household was in scope for the LFS, information about children aged 0-12 years and some information about their parents were able to be included in the Child Care Survey.

8 The survey was conducted in both urban and rural areas in all states and territories, but excluded persons living in very remote parts of Australia who would otherwise have been within the scope of the survey. The exclusion of these persons will have only a minor impact on any aggregate estimates that are produced for individual states and territories, except in the Northern Territory where such persons account for around 23% of the population.


9 The estimates in this publication relate to persons covered by the survey in June 2005. In the LFS, coverage rules were applied which aim to ensure that each person was associated with only one dwelling and hence has only one chance of selection. See Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) for more details.


10 Information was obtained through interviews conducted over a two-week period between 6-17 June 2005. Data collected on the use of child care related to the week prior to the interview, with the exception of Tasmania where it related to 23-29 May 2005 to avoid Tasmanian school holidays.

11 In each selected household, detailed information about the child care arrangements for each child was collected for a maximum of two children. Information was obtained from an adult who permanently resided in the selected household and was always either the child's parent, step-parent or guardian. In selected households with more than two children aged 0-12 years, two children were randomly selected and the complete set of child care information was collected for them. Summary information was collected for the additional children including: number attending child care; CCB arrangements; and the cost of formal and informal care.

12 This sampling methodology is the same as that for 2002. Different sampling methodologies were used in previous surveys. In 1999 a small set of information was collected for each of the 3rd, 4th and 5th children in the household and in the 1996 survey and earlier, a complete set of child care information was collected for all children resident in a selected household.


13 Two major changes were made to the 2005 Child Care Survey:
  • First, the scope of the survey was changed to cover children aged 0-12 years. Previous surveys covered children aged 0-11 years only. The change in age scope was made following advice to the ABS that many 12 year olds attend primary school and could therefore use formal child care, primarily before and/or after school care, but very few children aged over 12 years use formal child care. As a result of this change, the Child Care Survey provides almost complete coverage of children attending formal child care services, which brings the survey into closer alignment with other related data collections such as the Australian Government Census of Child Care Services conducted by the Department of Family, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.
  • Second, preschool has been excluded from the definition of formal care. This was due to the widely-accepted view that the main focus of preschools is education and preparing children for school, rather than providing a child care service. Many child care services also include developmental and educational programs and preschools provide a child care service at the same time as they provide education, so there is some overlap. Data on preschool attendance continued to be collected as part of the survey but, where possible, preschool is presented separately from formal child care.

14 For some of the information included in this publication, it is not possible to present data relating to the use of formal care without also including data related to the use of preschool as a form of child care. This affects Table 6 (Main reason used formal care) and Table 11 (showing the cost of child care to families). Cost of care to the family is calculated by adding the child care costs for all children in the family, not just those selected for the survey questionnaire. The survey questionnaire only collected detailed information such as the type of formal care and the cost of each type of formal care for a maximum of two selected children in each family. Preschool use and costs could be separated out from formal and informal care costs for each of the children surveyed. However, for any remaining children in the family, only summary information such as total cost for all formal care, combined with preschool, was collected.

15 Three other minor changes were made in the 2005 Child Care Survey:
  • There was a minor adjustment to the wording of questions about the cost of child care. This was done to ensure that costs reported covered a period of one week.
  • The weighting methodology for family estimates differs slightly from that used for the 2002 Child Care Survey. In both 2002 and 2005, the method for determining the family level weights for the Child Care Survey initially involved household composition benchmarks which take account of the number of adults and children under 15 in each household. The household composition benchmarks need to be further refined to the age scope of children in the Child Care Survey i.e. children aged under 13 years. For the June 2002 Child Care Survey this refinement to the benchmarks used sample count proportions from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) in June 2002. However, the June 2005 Child Care Survey used the weighted proportions from the June 2005 LFS for this refinement. Further, in 2005, person level benchmarks were used in addition to the household composition benchmarks in deriving the family weights.
  • Another change was the exclusion of questions about whether children attending a long day care or occasional care centre received a preschool or kindergarten program delivered by an early childhood education teacher. These questions were excluded as the quality of the data obtained from these questions in the 2002 Child Care Survey was considered to be poor. However it is recognised that this is a topic of interest and similar questions may be reinstated in future, pending successful testing.


16 It should be noted that as a result of questionnaire sequencing errors:
  • Information about attendance at vacation care and some information about before and/or after school care (time of day of attendance at before and/or after school care program, location of before and/or after school care) was not collected for children aged 12 years.
  • Information about the working arrangements used by parents to help care for their child was not collected for a small number of people.

17 Minor revisions have been made to 1999 data showing detailed types of formal child care, to make the data consistent with 1996, 2002 and 2005. In 1999 a processing step was omitted which meant that some records which should have been classified as one of the specific types of formal care (before and/or after school care, long day care centre, family day care, occasional care, preschool), were classified as 'other formal care'. Revised estimates are indicated in relevant tables with an 'r'.


18 The Child Care Benefit (CCB) was introduced in July 2000 and replaced Child Care Assistance and the Child Care Rebate. The CCB is a payment to help families who use approved and registered care.

19 Families using approved child care services can choose to receive their CCB as reduced child care fees (benefit paid direct to provider) or as a lump sum payment at the end of the financial year (benefit paid direct to parent). Families using registered care can claim their CCB within twelve months of the care being provided upon production of receipts. For more information on different types of family assistance, including the CCB, see <http://www.familyassist.gov.au>.

20 A new tax offset, called the Child Care Tax Rebate, was passed by Parliament in December 2005. In general terms, this change means that families with a tax liability will be eligible for 30 per cent of out-of-pocket expenses incurred for approved child care, up to a maximum of $4,000 per child per year. The Child Care Tax Rebate applies to out-of-pocket expenses for approved child care incurred since 1 July 2004 and can be claimed for the first time in relation to the period 1 July 2004 to 30 June 2005 in 2005-06 income tax returns. See the following section on cost of care for more information about the impact of the Child Care Tax Rebate on Child Care Survey data.


21 Within this publication, cost of care is reported as the net cost of care to the parents after the CCB has been paid and does not take into account any rebate that families may claim (after 30 June 2006 for the first time) as a result of the newly introduced Child Care Tax Rebate.

22 Most families receive the CCB in the form of a fee reduction, that is, paid directly to the child care service provider. In these cases, questions in the Child Care Survey prompt families to report the out-of-pocket amount they have paid to the child care service provider. Therefore in the majority of cases, the cost of child care to the family, taking the CCB into account, is directly collected in the survey.

23 In a minority of cases, where the parents have claimed or intend to claim the CCB as a lump sum, the amount of CCB has been estimated. The CCB was estimated based on information provided in the CCB Ready Reckoner and the Child Care Service Handbook 2004-05 provided by the Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. The value of the CCB can be calculated using information about the type of care, the number of hours of care, the standard hourly rate, family income and number of children in the family using child care, whether the child attends school and, for long day care, whether the care is part-time or full-time.

24 In estimating the CCB, it was assumed that:
  • if the parent intended to claim the CCB, then the care provider was eligible (i.e. approved or registered child care services)
  • basic eligibility requirements for the benefit were met (e.g. residency and children's immunisation)
  • parents would be willing to provide their tax file number to the Family Assistance Office, which would enable them to obtain the CCB above minimum rates (depending upon the parents' income)
  • parents met the CCB work, study and training test, which is required for CCB in relation to registered care and is required for CCB in excess of 20 hours care per week for approved care.

25 When being claimed by families, the Child Care Tax Rebate will be based on the net costs of child care, i.e. after taking any CCB to a family during a financial year into account. However, there was insufficient information to calculate a family's potential rebate from the Child Care Tax Rebate in the 2005 Child Care Survey. The survey collected information on the current weekly cost of child care at the time of the survey (i.e. June 2005), and did not collect any information about how much time during the year children had attended child care. Care should therefore be taken when using estimates of cost of care data presented in this publication, as the Child Care Tax Rebate would ultimately reduce the costs as published for many families.


26 The 2005 Child Care Survey, and its predecessors, collected information to support investigations of the overall demand for formal child care services. This includes information on the actual use of formal child care services, the 'felt need' for formal child care for those who hadn't used it, and the 'felt need' for additional child care for those who had used it (in the reference week). Further information about the reasons formal care was not required (which included responses such as the costs being too high) and for not using child care even though it was required was also collected to provide further insights into issues of the level of need for additional child care services.

27 The summary measure of unmet need for child care services presented in this publication, both for 2005 and in the comparative time series tables (see tables 28 and 29), is based on the responses to a combination of questions about parents 'felt need' for formal child care services in the previous four weeks. This measure shown in the tables by the label '(Additional) formal care required' refers to both:
  • parents who said they had wanted to use a formal service in the previous four weeks (whose child had not used a formal child care service in the previous week) and,
  • parents who said they had wanted to use 'more' formal services in the previous four weeks (whose child had used a formal child care service in the previous week)

28 It should be noted that while this indicator supports comparisons of requirements for formal child care between population subgroups and change over time, it is not an indicator of the required number of additional child care places and should not be misinterpreted as referring to 'the number of children on waiting lists for child care' or 'the actual number of additional child care places required' or as a definitive measure of unmet need for formal child care.

29 A limitation of using the 'felt need' measure, described above, as an unqualified measure of unmet demand for a service is that it does not indicate the conditions under which the interest in using a service would become effective. For example, no reference is made to the time periods for which the care may be required, (which, as shown in table 17, may be a relatively small amount for many families), the cost of the care and how that might affect its use, or how the location of the service might influence a parent's ability to or willingness to make use of the service. Other factors such as service type, quality of care, and flexibility of access over different periods of time, are also complexities that may influence a persons decision to use a child care service for their child. Assessing levels of demand for child care places must therefore be more specific about such conditions.


30 Estimates in this publication are subject to sampling and non-sampling errors:
  • sampling error is the difference between the published estimate and the value that would have been produced if all dwellings had been included in the survey. For more information see the Technical Note.
  • non-sampling errors are inaccuracies that occur because of imperfections in reporting by respondents and interviewers, and errors made in coding and processing data. These inaccuracies may occur in any enumeration whether it be a full count or a sample. Every effort is made to reduce the non-sampling error to a minimum by careful design of questionnaires, intensive training and supervision of interviewers, and efficient processing procedures.


31 The ABS plans to conduct this survey again in June 2008.


32 ABS publications draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated: without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.


33 In addition to the statistics included in this publication, the ABS may have other relevant data available on request.


34 Other ABS publications which may be of interest include:
  • Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0)
  • Australian Social Trends (cat. no. 4102.0)
  • Barriers and Incentives to Labour Force Participation, Australia, August 2004 to June 2005 (cat. no. 6239.0)
  • Child Care, Australia, June 2002 (cat. no. 4402.0)
  • Children, Australia: A Social Report, 2002 (cat. no. 4119.0)
  • Family Characteristics, Australia, June 2003 (cat. no. 4442.0)
  • Household and Family Projections, Australia, 1996-2021 (cat. no. 3236.0)
  • Persons Not in the Labour Force, Australia, September 2005 (cat. no. 6220.0)

35 Current publications and other products released by the ABS are listed in the Catalogue of Publications and Products, Australia (cat. no. 1101.0). The Catalogue is available from any ABS office or the ABS web site. The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the web site which details products to be released in the week ahead.