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Kids miss out as childcare workers spend four hours on paperwork

December 21, 2013 12:00AM

Kids miss out as childcare workers spend four hours on paperworkFour hours a week filling in paperwork … Nightcliff Family Centre Childcare director Pam Zagami with (from left) Zaslmina Parry, Zola O’Hea and Yannis Mousellis. Picture: Daniel Hartley-Allen. Source: News Limited

CHILDCARE workers are spending four hours a week filling out paperwork instead of playing with children, a government report reveals.

New quality rules are costing parents in a typical daycare centre about $40 a week.

One chain of family daycare operators has spent $560,000 this year complying with childcare red tape.

Paperwork has cost daycare centres an average of $19,000 extra, to comply with higher quality standards that began last year.

A Deloitte Access Economics report, released yesterday by the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA), shows the average centre spent $3393 this year to document “quality improvement plans”.

The ongoing cost of revising the plans is $4835 per year.

Report cards to “document children’s learning” cost $690 – and 22 hours of paper work – for each child.

Another $10,876 was spent setting up and reviewing new procedures under the National Quality Framework.

The report found that most childcare workers felt the higher standards “ultimately improved outcomes for children”.

“Despite these noted benefits, many educators reported that the vast increase in required documentation was detracting from time with children,” it said.

The report shows some services had to review 60 different policies.

Filling in forms to report accidents to government regulators cost $60 per incident.

The Deloitte report found that the quality rules had cost one council-run out-of-school-hours centre $35,000, shared between its three centres.

One Melbourne long daycare centre with 75 children spent $175,888 complying with the new rules this year.

Its annual ongoing cost was estimated to be $140,607 – or $2000 per child – which would cost parents up to $40 per week.

And a Queensland family day care chain with 50 childcare workers spent $560,000 to comply with the new rules.

Australian Childcare Alliance president Gwynn Bridges said centres supported high quality, but were drowning in paperwork.

“Our staff chose this profession to work with children, not to do paperwork,” she said yesterday.

“All this has caused a lot of anguish.”

The Deloitte Access Economics report suggested cutting the red tape by simplifying the quality regulations and streamlining applications.

It said centres had to comply with more than 350 requirements – some of them confusing.

“One service was unsure whether a ‘child safe environment policy’ referred to the physical environment of the centre, or ensuring that children were kept safe from predators,” the report said.

Taxpayers will spend $5.2 billion on subsidies and rebates for childcare this year.

Despite the subsidies, families with one child in full-time daycare will spend about 10 per cent of their take-home pay on out-of-pocket costs.

The Productivity Commission is reviewing Australia’s childcare system.

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