Aimed at eliminating rogue family daycare operators, the Federal government is coming out with tough new rules to start in two weeks.
Educations Minister Senator Simon Birmingham announced on Monday that the move to wipe the sector clean of corruption include restrictions on the age of children being cared for as well as a cap on the fees charged. He said he expected the new rules to save the Government $250 million currently paid to corrupt operators.
“These new measures strike the sensible balance between a need to stamp out unscrupulous family daycare providers but importantly safeguards the legitimate operators and the families who depend on them.
“They will provide much tighter controls on who cares for our children. It is not good enough that existing rules have been able to be ‘worked around’ and we will put a stop to millions and millions of bad money going out the door,” he said in a statement.
The rules, that would happen in two weeks, also state that operators will be limited to a maximum hourly rate of $12.67. If the care fees are higher, then it will render the care ineligible for assistance.
“In some areas family daycare services are charging the Commonwealth more than three times their normal fees for this care that is wholly paid for by the taxpayer.
“Setting a maximum hourly rate will act as a deterrent to family day care services and stop them charging exorbitant fees where there is not a genuine liability and, I would expect, it will push a number of the rorters out of the system all together,” he added.
Senator Birmingham explained that the changes would mean children older than 14 or who attend secondary school would no longer be eligible for fee assistance.
“This measure has been carefully targeted at those who deliberately rort the system and to ensure legitimate family daycare providers do not get caught up and penalised, including exceptions for children with a disability and those living in remote areas.
“Family daycare providers claiming for children in this age group claim, on average, 10 hours more family day care per week than younger children, with the vast majority provided by services considered to be at high risk of non-compliance. Put simply, the authenticity of these claims fail a most basic sniff test,” he said.
The government also assured that legitimate family daycare providers will not be affected but the Family Day Care Australia, the peak body for family day care providers, feel a little uncertain about it. Andrew Paterson, CEO of Family Day Care Australia, said that they will be talking with the sector to “establish the scope of this impact and will be providing the Minister of any unaccounted genuine care arrangements that arise.”
“Our immediate concern is supporting our members with the 2 week implementation timeframe and the capacity of genuinely impacted families to find alternate arrangements,” Mr Paterson said.