In response to a variety of compliance-oriented measures directed at the family day care sector, Family Day Care Australia has undertaken sustained consultation with the government and the family day care sector to ensure that these changes represent reasonable, proportionate and appropriate compliance mechanisms.
Changes to Special Child Care Benefit, Grandparent Child Care Benefit and care for secondary school children
On 27 February 2017, the Minister for Education and Training the Hon. Simon Birmingham introduced three legislative instruments to:
These amendments were made through the following Determinations:
Prior to the introduction of the legislative instruments, FDCA consulted in confidence with the Department of Education and Training on several occasions. While FDCA was, and remains supportive of the proposed instruments ‘in principle’, we identified potential changes to the specified exemption thresholds to minimise the impact on legitimate operators and advocated for broader consultation with the sector.
FDCA also conducted a restricted confidential consultation with a reference group of family day care stakeholders on 31 January 2017to gauge the potential impact of the legislative instruments on children and families. FDCA provided some preliminary guidance to the Department regarding a number of exemption amendments that would reflect a fairer and more proportionate regulatory response, and advocated for further consultation to accurately assess the impact of the proposed measures.
FDCA also wrote to Minister the Hon. Simon Birmingham on March 8 2017 to express our concerns regarding the legislative instruments, and proposed that the Government consider the following recommendations:
While some consideration of our feedback is evident in the legislative instruments that have been introduced (particularly our suggested exemption regarding a reduction in work hour requirements on a care day), FDCA remains concerned that the Determinations will unduly impact upon the legitimate care arrangements of a relatively small, yet significant, percentage of children and families, some of which may be either the most vulnerable or the most in need of the unique and flexible service provision which is offered by the family day care sector.
Changes to child care payments frameworks
On 10 October 2016, the Minister for Education and Training the Hon. Simon Birmingham introduced changes to the child care payments legislative framework to be made through the following Determinations:
In summary, the changes included:
FDCA and State and Territory Family Day Care Associations consulted with the Department in the lead up to its implementation and offered in principle support for the amendments, as they are designed to stop payments being made to operators that are claiming subsidies for care that is outside the original intent of family day care or not taking place at all.
Child swapping Determination 2015
Following the Unite for Rights campaign, the then Minister for Social Services, the Hon. Scott Morrison MP, revoked the old rule and reissued a new legislative instrument, the Child Care Benefit (Children in respect of whom no-one is eligible) Determination 2015. The instrument came into effect on 12 October 2015, and restricts family day care educators access to family day care for their own children on a day that they are providing care. The new rule acknowledged many of FDCA’s concerns with the original rule and incorporated a number of exemptions to ensure access for the most vulnerable families, including unrestricted access for children with disabilities and those that live in remote areas with limited early childhood options.
In the lead up to the Determination coming into effect, FDCA met with Senator Xenophon who in turn negotiated with the Government to ensure a commitment to a review of the new rule within twelve months and extend the scope of the children with additional needs specified circumstance. FDCA also sustained an ongoing dialogue with the Department of Social Services, our Service Reference Group and our members to gauge the extent of the impact of the draft legislation on the sector. Through negotiations with the Government, FDCA:
Unite for Rights
In late December 2014, in response to unscrupulous and fraudulent misuse of Child Care Benefit (CCB), the former Assistant Minister for Education, the Hon. Sussan Ley MP introduced a legislative instrument that placed a ‘blanket ban’ on family day care educators accessing family day care for their own children, the Child Care Benefit (Eligibility of Child Care Services for Approval and Continued Approval) Amendment Determination 2014 (No. 1).
In response, FDCA with the support of the sector, our membership and numerous federal politicians, launched the ‘Unite for Rights’ campaign and wrote to Minister Ley to urge that the government withdraw the determination or at the very least extend the date in which family day care services and educators must comply with the regulation (allowing for adequate timeframes for alternative education and care arrangements to be made and for parliamentary scrutiny of this regulation). In January 2015, FDCA and the FDC peaks sent a letter to the Senate Regulations and Ordinances Committee and the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights regarding the initial Determination and its effect on the sector. The actions undertaken by FDCA, the state peak bodies and our members during the campaign resulted in a successful revocation of the original rule.