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USE OF CHILD CARE
Formal care and informal care
Table 1 shows that the most commonly used types of formal care were long day care and before and/or after school care, attended by 10% and 7% of all children aged 0-12 years respectively. These were followed by family day care (3%) and occasional care (2%) while other forms of formal child care were used by less than 1% of children.
Over the three year period from June 2002 to June 2005, the numbers of children aged 0-11 years who attended before and/or after school care increased from 171,000 to 227,000, an increase of 56,000 or 33% (table 27).
There were no other significant changes in attendance at other types of formal care in the three year period to June 2005.
In 2005, grandparents were the main informal carers, providing care for 20% of children. The proportion of children aged 0-11 years (29%) who had received informal care from a relative (including grandparents, siblings, and other relatives) had remained at a similar level as that recorded in 2002 (28%). However, the proportion of children who had received informal care from a person unrelated to the family (e.g. friends, neighbours or babysitters) has tended to fall since 1999 (down from 9% in June 1999 to 6% in June 2005).
Use of care by children of different ages
Child care usage varied with age, particularly for formal care. The use of formal care for very young children was low (7% of children under one year), but increased from age one (31%) up to age three (53%). From age four, when many children have started preschool, the proportion of children using formal child care dropped to 38%, with a further decrease for five year olds (22%) when most children have started school. For 6-8 year olds, 17% attended formal care. For 9-12 year olds, 8% attended formal care.
Use of informal care was highest for one year olds (43%) and then generally decreased as the age of children increased. Overall, 38% of children aged 0-4 used informal care compared to 29% of children aged 5-12 years.
Hours of care
Table 4 shows that many children used relatively small amounts of child care. Of those children who used formal care, 47% used it for less than 10 hours in the reference week and, of the children who had used informal care, the proportion who used it for less than 10 hours was 58%. In contrast, the proportion of children who used care for 35 or more hours in the reference week was 7% for those who used formal care and 12% for those who used informal care. The overall proportion of children who had used any child care for 35 or more hours (be it formal, informal or both types together) was 13%. The median number of hours for all children aged 0-12 years who used child care was 10 hours in the reference week.
Days of the week
According to table 5, of those children who used any type of child care, 79% used care on weekdays only. For children who used child care (some of whom could also have used child care on a weekend), 29% used it for one weekday, 21% used it for two weekdays, and 15% used it for three weekdays. There were 268,700 children (17% of all children who used child care) who used some form of care for five weekdays in the reference week.
Almost all children (99%) who had only used formal care had used that care on weekdays alone. In contrast, 30% of children who had only used informal care had used that care on a weekend (either together with weekdays or on weekends alone).
Reasons for using care
As shown in tables 6 and 7, the reasons given by parents for using child care varied with the type of care used. For nearly 65% of children, 'work-related' was the main reason for using formal child care. This reason was given for 84% of children attending before and/or after school care programs, 66% of those attending family day care and 58% attending a long day care centre (table 6).
The main reason given by parents for using informal care for children was also 'work-related'. This was the main reason given for almost half (48%) of children using any informal care. 'Personal reasons' were cited as the main reason care was being used for 34% of children in informal care (table 7).
Couple and one parent families
Table 3 shows that a higher proportion of children in one parent families (56%) used child care than children in couple families (44%). Both family types were more likely to use informal care than formal care. Among children from one parent families, 42% used informal care and 25% used formal care: 12% of these families used a combination of both types of care. Of children from couple families the proportions were 31% (informal) and 20% (formal) and only 7% used a combination of both types of care.
Care provided by grandparents was important for children in both couple and one parent families (20% and 17% of children respectively). However, care provided by other relatives including the child's other parent living elsewhere, siblings and other more distant relatives played a greater role for children in one parent families (21%) than for those in couple families (4%).
COST OF CARE
Cost of care information measured by the 2005 Child Care Survey is the cost of care to the parents after the Child Care Benefit has been taken into account. This cost does not take into account the new Child Care Tax Rebate introduced in December 2005. Refer to the Explanatory Notes for more detailed information about the Child Care Tax Rebate and the Child Care Benefit. As well as any Child Care Benefit entitlements, the cost of care is influenced by factors such as the hours spent in care and the different fees for different types of care. Cost of care information is contained in tables 9 to 11.
For 65% (1,015,300) of children who used child care in the reference week, the cost of that week's care was less than $20 (this includes a large proportion of children for whom there was no cost), while for 8% of children it was $100 or more (table 9). There was a cost involved for almost all children who used formal care (95%). In contrast, the majority of informal care was provided free of charge, with a payment being made for just 9% of children using informal care.
The median weekly cost per child of all formal care was $31. Cost of care was highest for long day care, indicated by a median weekly cost of $50. The median weekly cost per child for less than 5 hours of care was $10 while for 45 hours or more the median weekly cost was $150 (table 10).
Estimates of costs per family are also available, but only for informal care and an aggregrate of formal care and preschool. See paragraph 14 of the Explanatory Notes for more information on how child care costs for families were calculated. The total median weekly cost for couple families was $18 in the reference week, compared to $3 for one parent families (table 11). These low median values are largely influenced by the fact that many families did not have to make any payments for their use of informal child care.
Child Care Benefit
The Child Care Benefit (CCB) is an Australian Government funded payment to assist families who use approved or registered child care. Tables 14 and 15 contain CCB data.
According to table 15 there were 585,600 children in formal care for whom parents had claimed, or intended to claim, the CCB. The CCB was paid direct to the provider in respect of 533,100 children and as a direct reimbursement to the parents for 53,700 children. There were 97,100 children who received some formal care for which the CCB would not be claimed.
The main reasons given for not claiming the CCB for formal care (table 15) were lack of awareness of the benefit and that parental income was too high (each given for 25% of children for whom the CCB was not claimed). The carer or centre not being eligible was the reason cited for 21% of children. This was the most commonly reported main reason the benefit was not claimed for children who received informal care (31%).
Whether required additional formal care
The survey sought information from parents about whether their formal child care requirements were met. Those families not using formal care were asked whether there was any time in the last four weeks when they wanted to use any formal care services but didn't. Those families already using formal child care were asked whether there was any time in the previous four weeks when they wanted to use any more formal care services but didn't. This information is presented in Table 16.
Parents who responded that they wanted additional formal child care were asked why they had not used it (table 18). Similarly, parents who responded that they did not want additional formal care were asked why not (table 19). The responses to these questions need to be considered in analysing the level and type of additional formal care required. In particular, it is necessary to differentiate between lack of child care places, cost of services and other service-related issues.
According to parents' responses, there was a requirement for additional formal care for 188,400 children (6% of children aged 0-12 years). Of these, only 33% said that they did not use additional care because child care providers were booked out or had no places. A further 10% said that no services existed or they did not know of any services in the area, and another 9% said they did not know whether care was available. For 30,700 children (16% of those for whom additional formal care was required), parents reported that they did not use additional care because of the cost of care. The cost of care was also the reason given for 99,000 children for whom parents reported that they did not require additional formal care. Other service-related reasons were given as the reason for not requiring additional formal care for a further 49,500 children. However, for 63% of all children for whom parents said no additional formal care was required, the main reason for not needing additional care was that a parent was not working, or they preferred/were available to look after the child.
Amount and main reason additional formal care required
Of the 188,400 children for whom parents said they required additional formal care, additional care was required for 106,100 children aged 0-4 years (9% of children in this age group) and 82,300 children aged 5-12 years (or 4% of children in this age group). Table 17 shows that the three main types of formal care required were: before and/or after school care (64,400 children), long day care (52,900 children) and occasional care (40,800 children).
Table 28 shows that the proportion of children aged 0-11 years for whom parents wanted additional formal child care (that is, some child care for children who had not used formal child care and additional child care for those who had used formal child care) was 6% in 2005. This proportion was the same as that recorded in both 1999 and 2002.
Between June 2002 and June 2005 there was a decrease in the number of children for whom additional family day care (down from 29,100 to 17,700) was required (table 29).
There were no significant changes in the number of children for whom parents wanted additional care for any other types of formal care in the three year period to June 2005.
For the majority of children for whom additional formal care had been required, just one or two days had been required over the four week period (table 17). For 30% of children for whom additional formal care had been required, parents reported needing one day of care in the previous four weeks, and for a further 24%, two days of care in the previous four weeks had been wanted. The mean number of days for which formal care was wanted over the previous four weeks was 3.5 days and this tended to be longer for older children (a mean of 3.3 days for children aged 0-4 years, 3.6 days for those aged 5-8 years and 4.1 days for those aged 9-12 years). Of the 188,400 children for whom formal care was wanted, a little over half (54%) involved children where the main reason given by the parent was related to their work. The other main reasons were 'personal reasons' (31%) and reasons related to the child's development or the child's wants and needs (12%).
WORK AND CHILD CARE
Use of care by employed parents
Among children in couple families (table 21) in which both parents were employed, 54% had used care in the reference week. The proportions were higher for families in which the mother was employed full-time (60%) than if the mother worked part-time (51%).
In one parent families (table 22), 74% of children with a working parent had been in child care in the reference week compared with 40% of those whose parent was not employed.
In 2005, information about use of vacation care was collected for children aged 4-11 years (table 20). In the 12 months prior to June 2005, 258,500 children attended vacation care (14% of children who attended school). Approximately 16% of children in couple families where both parents were employed attended vacation care, compared to 26% of children in one parent families where the parent was employed.
Use of work arrangements to help care for children
People use a range of work arrangements to help them care for their children. These include flexible working hours, permanent part-time work, shiftwork, work from home and job sharing arrangements. Information on these arrangements is given in table 23.
Of all families with at least one parent employed, 61% indicated that at least one parent normally used one of these work arrangements to help them care for their children.
The most frequently used arrangements were flexible working hours (41%) and permanent part-time work (25%). Overall, employed mothers were considerably more likely to make use of these types of work arrangements (73%) than employed fathers (34%). In couple families, 73% of employed mothers reported normally using these work arrangements compared to 71% of employed mothers in one parent families. In couple families, 33% of employed fathers used these work arrangements compared to 69% of employed fathers in one parent families.
The proportion of families with at least one parent employed in which at least one parent used a work arrangement to help care for their children increased from 56% in 2002 to 61% in 2005 (table 30). The proportion who used flexible working hours to help care for their children increased from 35% to 41% over this three year period while the proportion with a permanent part-time work arrangement was much the same in 2005 (25%) as it has been in 2002 (24%).
The mother used work arrangements to help care for her children in almost three quarters (74%) of families with an employed mother, an increase from 70% in 2002. In comparison, 34% of fathers used work arrangements to help care for their children. This had increased from 30% in 2002.
Preschool data is presented in tables 24, 25 and 26. Of the 257,100 children who attended preschool in the reference week in 2005, 14% attended for one day and 37% for two days (table 25). A further 33% attended preschool for three days. The main reason the parents of 38% of children attending preschool chose a particular preschool was due to the quality or reputation of that preschool (table 25). Parents of another 30% chose the preschool because it was close to home. These proportions were much the same as those reported in 2002.
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