CANBERRA, March 17 (Xinhua) -- Australian Minister for Early Childhood and Child Care Kate Ellis on Sunday announced that the government will introduce a package of new measures to provide more flexible and accessible child care to better meet the needs of modern families.
The government will run a series of trials in partnership with industry, business and child care operators to provide more flexible child care hours as part of an 11 million Australian dollars (11.33 million U.S. dollars) package to increase the flexibility and accessibility of child care. "We know modern families want more flexible approaches to child care to meet their family's needs, and to be able to rely on quality, affordable, accessible child care," Ellis said. "Our government is responding to the needs of modern families by investing more than 4 million Australian dollars (4.12 million U.S. dollars) to trial new models of flexible child care that better meet the needs of modern families and particularly shift workers."
This builds on the government's record 23 billion Australian dollars (23.7 billion U.S. dollars) investment into early childhood education and care.
Ellis said more than 500 families in total will take part to test alternative child care arrangements to see what works best for Australian families.
The child care flexibility trials will take place in more than 50 sites across the country. Under the trials, Family Day Care Australia will provide overnight and weekend care for police, nurses and paramedics who are shift workers; The government will trial flexible extended hours weekday care at six day care centres across Australia; the government will fund the Network of Out of School Hours Services Australia to expand out of school hours care in more locations and remove the barriers to workforce participation of strictly working around schooling hours. "In recent decades, we have seen a significant growth in women' s workforce participation and this has created extra demand for child care. Over the last 10 years alone, the number of women engaged in employment has increased by almost 25 percent," Ellis said.
To make the child care more affordable, the government has increased the Child Care Rebate from 30 percent to 50 percent of out of pocket costs and increased the cap to 7,500 Australian dollars (7,725 U.S. dollars) per child per year.