With childcare fees set to rise, Alpha Childrenís Centre manager, Stelios Piakis says that the Government should increase its level of childcare assistance to parents.

The call for an increase in childcare assistance followed the Federal Governmentís proposal to reform child care centres from July 1, 2010.

The proposal aims to improve child-care staff ratios and lift the qualifications of childcare workers in government-approved child care centres.

Although Piakis deems the changes as positive and long over-due, childcare groups have estimated that parents will have to fork out an additional $500 to $1500 a year per child to cover the reform expenses.

“Better child-staff ratios and qualified staff mean more expenses and wage increases, and fees will go up, probably $10 per week if not more, for different centre,” he says.

“In comparison with the economic crisis and unemployment, it may also impact on utilisation levels of the childcare sector.”

Forty year old mother of three, Mary Kratsis  says that it is unfair to target parents, especially when prices of all other services are continuing to rise.

As a part-time worker, she is already struggling to afford childcare fees. Consequently her youngest child is missing out on attending Alpha Childrenís Centre with her older siblings.

“Parents will have to work more to make up the shortfall in fees not subsidised by the Government,” she says. “It will become a big macro problem as parents who can’t afford it will adopt a one child policy.” But Chryssie Demetriou, 40, says she is willing to pay the extra if it means improving the child-staff ratio and quality of care.

“How do you put a price on looking after children if itís going to improve their environment,” she says.

“My mother-in-law offered to babysit my daughter but I chose to send my children to Alpha because of the benefits of what it is teaching them. They teach interaction, language and run puppet shows. You donít learn those skills from just one individual.”

Youth Minister Kate Ellis said that Australia could not successfully reform the industry without some out-of pocket expenses for families.

“Any increases in cost that result…50 per cent of that will be met by the Australian government,” she said.