4914.0.55.001 - Newsletter: Age Matters, May 2006  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 31/05/2006   
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In June 2005, 1.6 million children (i.e. 46% of all children aged 0-12 years) received some type of child care either formal or informal. Informal care, either alone or in combination with formal care was used by 33% (1.1 million) of these children with grandparents as the main informal carer, providing care for 660,000 children.

Child care usage varied with the age of child. The use of informal care was highest for one year olds (43%) and decreased as the age of children increases. Overall, 38% of children aged 0-4 used informal aged care compared to 29% of children aged 5-12 years. Grandparents cared for 55% (84,000) of the 154,000 one year olds who used child care and 39% (46,000) of 120,000 five year olds who used child care.

Of the 660,000 children cared for informally by a grandparent, 85% were from couple families and 15% from one parent families, 97% were from homes where English was the main language spoken at home and only 3% spoke another language while 67% lived in a major city with the remaining 33% located in either a inner regional, outer regional or a rural dwelling.

Of the informal care provided by a grandparent, 77% was provided on weekdays only and for one day only (44%).

The main reason (52%) grandparents provided informal child care was 'work related' i.e the child's parent/s were either at work, looking for work or undertaking work related study or training. There was a slight difference according to the age of the child in the proportion of those who indicated 'work related' as the main reason for the care with 50% of children aged 0-4 years and 54% of children aged 5-12 years old.

Most of the child care undertaken by grandparents was provided at no cost (97%).The extent of child care provided informally and at no cost by grandparents, has resulted in a average cost of less than $6 per week for all types of informal care provided. Informal care provided by a non relative averages at $23 per week while the average weekly cost of formal child care is $49.

From Cat. no. 4402.0 - Child Care, Australia, Jun 2005