A national Childcare Phone In entered its second week today with initial results from over 420 callers revealing widespread problems including cases of children being underfed and thirsty and childcare workers being exposed to illness and disease.

At a visit to a childcare centre in Newcastle (NSW) ACTU President Sharan Burrow said:

“The first week of the Childcare Phone In by the ACTU and childcare unions LHMU and ASU has been very successful with calls from 300 parents and 121 childcare workers from all states and territories.

We urge childcare workers and parents to call us if they have not already done so – ph 1300 362 223.

Initial results are that 81% of parents have experienced one or more problems with childcare with 13% indicating they were satisfied with the quality of care their children received. Common problems cited by parents include:

  • Long waiting lists and a lack of places that prevent parents from returning
    to work or taking on a job with many parents having to put their names on
    waiting lists before their children are born.
  • A lack of support and places for children with special needs.
  • Rising fees and high cost in comparison to wages – one parent cited losing
    75% of her weekly income on childcare fees.
  • Quality of care problems including underfeeding, crowded rooms, too few
    staff, as well as poor facilities.
  • There was strong support from parents for better pay for childcare workers
    given they are entrusted with treasure and the work is difficult and
  • Many childcare workers are unhappy with their level of pay and recognition – especially those in Family Day Care.

    A majority of childcare workers are distressed they are unable to provide the quality of care they would like for reasons such as:

  • The high numbers of children they are responsible for and inadequate
    staffing levels.
  • An increase in the numbers of children with special needs without any extra
    facilities or staff to provide the necessary care.
  • Facilities being rundown and equipment and resources not being
  • Parents and childcare workers are urged to call the Childcare Phone-In and tell us if they have an issue about childcare – ph 1300 362 223, local call cost only, from 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday. The Phone In will continue until Friday 17 September.

    The ACTU will collate the results and inform the major political parties in the lead up to the federal election.”