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Rural living’s cheaper for working battlers

UNDER PRESSURE: Sherie Janezic with her son Zane.
UNDER PRESSURE: Sherie Janezic with her son Zane.

SOARING childcare fees and lagging subsidies are putting even more pressure on the region's families, with some working parents questioning whether it is all worth it.

A new report released by Early Childhood Australia has shown childcare subsidies are failing to keep up with increasing costs.

Warwick mother-of-three Sherie Janezic said she had increasingly spent more and more of her time second-guessing whether sending her kids to childcare while she and her husband worked was actually worth their hard-earned money.

"If I was working full time, it might have worked out better but, as I'm working casually, it's 50/50 as to whether we'll actually make money that week," she said.

The analysis by Early Childhood Australia revealed that in 2009 a family with an income of $35,000 had 81% of their childcare costs covered, but that figure is projected to drop to 74% by 2016.

Assistant Minister for Education Sussan Ley said it was more of a question of "why are childcare fees skyrocketing and what can be done to slow this rate of growth?"

"Taxpayers currently subsidise childcare fees to the tune of $1billion a year," Ms Ley said.

"However, I think it's fair to say the Labor model of blindly throwing money at problems without addressing the underlying issues is unsustainable.

"We've tasked the Productivity Commission to seek a wide range of views on how to address these issues."

But with issues such as a 44% increase in hourly fees for long day-care, it's no wonder families are feeling the pressure.

Pressure Ms Janezic said was coming from all directions.

"I feel pressured to stay at home as my partner works long hours, but I also feel pressured to work as living on one wage is just not possible these days," she said.

Despite it all, the busy mum said living rurally definitely helped ease the burden. "If we were to move back to the city, it would be worse - at least the cost of living out here is cheaper."

Janice Kibatta, service manager of Warwick Family Day Care, said that was exactly the reason families were increasingly turning to family day care as a viable alternative to long day care.

"Over the last six months I've seen the vast majority of our educators fill up and all of our children are from working families… it's just more reasonably priced and fits in better with people's lives," she said.

Despite the advantages of family day care, Ms Kibatta said she would still like to see an increase in subsidies.

Topics:  childcare