Children’s care services in danger

Around 80 families across the far west that access educators under Cobar Shire Council’s In-Home Care service are in danger of losing their government funding.

Cobar Shire Council’s director of corporate and economic services Angela Shepherd said there are two areas of concern with children’s services funding that may affect local families.

She said they are separate issues but both relate to the changes in the government’s child care policy and are somewhat complicated.

“There is currently no allowance for In-Home Care under the new Families Child Care Package.

“The key elements of the Package are the new Child Care Subsidy and the Child Care Safety Net, which start from July 2018,” Ms Shepherd explained.

“We understand there is currently a review being undertaken into the In-Home Care program and the trialled Nanny pilot scheme to determine what, if any, elements will be funded under the new package.

“We are concerned about the 80 families that access educators under Council’s In-Home Care service.

“These are families on remote properties that have few other options in terms of educating their kids,” Ms Shepherd said.

“They have an educator that lives with them and provides services to the children.

“Council’s service operates over around 40 per cent of the state – the most remote areas, where there isn’t a local school or child care service,” she said.

“We will input into this review highlighting the issues facing our families and the importance of the service to remote communities,” Ms Shepherd said.

Also under the new Families Child Care Package the Community Support Program grant funds will be dropped. Council currently accesses around $400,000 worth of grants through this program to run all three of their services–In-Home Care, Family Day Care and COOSH.

“Under the new program there are some competitive grants that may be accessible, probably on a far smaller scale and they will be phased out. Nothing has yet been confirmed and we are unsure what funding we will be eligible for,” she said.

“This clearly has a large impact on our services – with the only two options being to access the additional funding through user fees or reducing the services we provide.

“Again, we understand the Department is currently asking for comment on the guidelines for the new program and we will be providing comments outlining the importance of the services we provide, the disadvantage and hardship the proposed changes will create. We will continue to outline what these changes mean for our community and seek intervention to restore the status quo,” Ms Shepherd said.