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4402.0 - Child Care, Australia, Jun 2002  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 16/05/2003   
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SUMMARY OF FINDINGS

INTRODUCTION

In June 2002, 1,510,500 (49%) children aged less than 12 years used some type of child care in the reference week. Informal care, either alone or in combination with formal care, was used by 33% (1,019,200) of children under 12 years. This was a reduction from 37% of children in 1999. Formal care (alone or in combination) was used by 25% (787,400) of children, an increase from 23% in 1999 and continuing the upward trend observed throughout the 1990's.

CHILD CARE ARRANGEMENTS

graph - CHILD CARE ARRANGEMENTS



USE OF CHILD CARE

Formal and informal types of care

The most commonly used types of formal care were long day care and preschool, attended by 10% and 8% respectively of children. These were followed by before and after school care programs (6%), family day care (3%) and occasional care (1%). Of children attending formal care, the proportion attending both long day care and before and after school care has increased steadily since 1993.

The proportion of children using informal care in 2002 (33%) has declined from 38% in 1993. Some 19% (591,600) were looked after by grandparent(s), 2% by siblings and 7% by other relatives. Other (unrelated) people provided care to 7% of children.

Age of children in care

Child care usage varied with age, particularly for formal care. The use of formal care by very young children was low (7% of children under one year), but increased rapidly from age one (27%) up to age four (83%). The higher use of formal care by three and four year olds reflects preschool attendance. From age five, when most children have started school, the proportion of children using formal care dropped sharply, with 28% of five year old children and 7% of 9-11 year old children in formal care. The most common type of formal care used by children aged 5-11 years was before and after school care, attended by 9%.

Use of informal care was highest for one year olds and then generally decreased as the age of children increased. Overall, 37% of children under five years used informal care compared to 30% of children aged 5-11 years.

TYPE OF CARE
graph - TYPE OF CARE



Hours of care

The majority of children used relatively small amounts of child care. Of those children who used any type of child care, 45% used it for less than 10 hours per week and a further 27% used it for 10-19 hours per week. A small proportion of children who used care attended for 45 hours or more per week (6%). A higher proportion attended 45 hours or more per week for informal care (7%) than formal care (2%).
HOURS PER WEEK OF CARE
graph - HOURS PER WEEK OF CARE


Reason for using care

Reasons for using child care varied with the type of care used. Almost 50% of children using formal child care did so mainly because of parents' work. This reason accounted for 84% of children at before and after school care programs, 60% of those attending family day care and 55% of children attending long day care. In contrast, the most common main reason given for attendance at preschool (73%) and occasional care (37%) was that it was beneficial for the child.

MAIN REASON USED FORMAL CARE
graph - MAIN REASON USED FORMAL CARE


The main reason for children using informal care was also related to parents' work with 46% using informal care for this reason. Parents' personal reasons were given for 38% of children in informal care. A similar pattern was evident for most types of care with the exception of children cared for by another relative, for which other reasons (38%) was most commonly cited as the main reason for care.

Change in child care arrangements

Parents reported that 323,100 children had increased their use of formal care in the last 12 months and 125,300 had decreased their use. The most common reason for change was parental work. For 3 to 5 year olds who increased their use of formal care, the main reason was for preparation for school or starting school (49%). Of those currently using informal care, a greater number (218,000) were reported as having increased their use of informal care over the last 12 months compared to those reported as having decreased their use of informal care (97,300).


COST OF CARE

Almost all children who used formal care paid for that care (92%). For 46% (359,500) of the children who used formal care, the cost was less than $20 per week, but it was $100 or more for 8%. Cost of care was highest for long day care and family day care (median cost of $38 and $21 per week, respectively).

MEDIAN COST PER WEEK OF CARE, Type of formal care
graph - MEDIAN COST PER WEEK OF CARE, Type of formal care


In general, the median cost of formal care increased as the hours of care increased. The median cost of care for less than 5 hours was $9 and the cost for 45 hours or more was $105.

MEDIAN COST PER WEEK OF FORMAL CARE
graph - MEDIAN COST PER WEEK OF FORMAL CARE


The majority of children who used informal care did so at no cost (89%).


Family income

In general, as family income increased, the proportion of children who used care increased. Of children in families with weekly income less than $400, 45% attended some type of child care, compared to 67% of children in families with weekly income $2,000 or more.

Of children who used some type of care, the proportion who used formal care generally rose with family income, from 47% in families with weekly income less than $400 to 54% in families with weekly income $2,000 or more. In contrast, the proportion of children who used informal care was more than 60% regardless of family income.


Child Care Benefit

The Child Care Benefit (CCB) is a Federal Government funded payment to assist families who use approved and registered child care.

In June 2002, the CCB was paid direct to the provider for 522,400 children and paid as a reimbursement to their parents for 48,100 children. Some 189,400 children did not have any benefit claimed for formal care nor intended to claim. The main reasons given for not claiming the CCB were lack of awareness and the carer or centre not being eligible.

Some 6,400 claimed the CCB for informal care, 102,500 did not claim, and 911,700 did not pay for their care.


DEMAND FOR ADDITIONAL FORMAL CARE

The survey sought information from parents as to whether their child care requirements were met. Those families not using formal child care were asked if they would have liked to use it if it were available. Those families already using formal child care were asked about their interest in additional care.

For the majority of children (94%), no additional formal care was required in terms of places or hours. The 6% (174,500) of children identified as requiring additional formal care is similar to the level of demand observed in 1999.

Type of additional formal care required

The main types of additional formal care reported as required were before and after school care (47,800 children), long day care (46,300) and occasional care (37,600), representing 27%, 27% and 22% respectively of the demand. The proportion requiring additional family day care and long day care both increased slightly from 1999, offsetting decreases in the proportions requiring additional before and after school care, preschool and other formal care.

TYPE OF ADDITIONAL FORMAL CARE REQUIRED
graph - TYPE OF ADDITIONAL FORMAL CARE REQUIRED


Main reason additional formal care required

Parental work was the single largest reason for requiring additional formal care with 41% (72,300) of children requiring additional care for this reason. A further 6% of children required additional formal care because their parent(s) were looking for work or undertaking work-related study or training.


WORK AND CHILD CARE


Use of care by employed parents

Children in one parent families were more likely to use formal and/or informal care than children in couple families (56% compared to 47%).

Within couple and one parent families, use of care was higher for children with employed parents. Within couple families, 59% of children used care if both parents were employed compared to 35% of children with one parent employed and 28% of children who had neither parent employed. Similarly, 74% of children with their lone parent employed used care compared to 44% with their lone parent not employed.

CHILD CARE ARRANGEMENTS
graph - CHILD CARE ARRANGEMENTS



Vacation care

Some 252,300 children attended vacation care in the 12 months prior to June 2002 (14% of children who attended school). Approximately 17% of children who were in couple families in which both parents were employed attended vacation care. This compared with 27% of children in lone parent families where the parent was employed and 8% of children in families in which one or both parents were not employed.


Balancing work and family responsibility

Increasingly, employers and workplaces acknowledge the need for workers to balance work and family responsibilities. A range of provisions has been introduced over the years which assist families to do this. The provisions include flexible working hours, permanent part-time work, home-based work and job sharing.

Of the families with at least one parent employed, 56% indicated that they used one or more work arrangements to assist them to care for their children. Most frequently used were flexible working hours (35%) and permanent part-time work (24%).

Overall, employed mothers were considerably more likely to make use of work arrangements (70%) than employed fathers (30%).

BALANCING WORK AND FAMILY RESPONSIBILITY
graph - BALANCING WORK AND FAMILY RESPONSIBILITY


EXPLANATORY NOTES

INTRODUCTION

1 This publication contains results from the Child Care Survey conducted throughout Australia in June 2002. It is a continuation of a series of surveys on this topic, conducted since 1969. The previous survey was in June 1999. The major aim of the survey was to collect data on the use of, and demand for, child care for children aged less than 12 years. Information was also collected on the use and non-use of the Child Care Benefit (CCB) and the income and working arrangements of parents with children under 12 years.

2 The Child Care Survey was conducted as a supplement to the Labour Force Survey (LFS). The monthly publication Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) contains information about survey design, sample redesign, scope, coverage and population benchmarks relevant to the LFS. It also contains definitions of demographic and labour force characteristics, and information about telephone interviewing relevant to both the LFS and supplementary surveys.

3 From April 2001 the LFS has been conducted using a redesigned questionnaire containing additional questions and some minor definitional changes. These changes also affect the supplementary surveys. For further details, see Information Paper: Implementing the Redesigned Labour Force Survey Questionnaire (cat. no. 6295.0) and Information Paper: Questionnaires Used in the Labour Force Survey (cat. no. 6232.0).


SCOPE

4 Information was collected from private dwellings with children under 12 years of age. The survey excluded children visiting the dwelling and students at boarding school. Persons excluded from the LFS are:
  • members of the Australian permanent defence forces
  • certain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments, customarily excluded from censuses and surveys
  • overseas residents in Australia
  • members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependents) stationed in Australia.

5 The survey was conducted in both urban and rural areas in all states and territories, but excluded persons living in remote and sparsely settled parts of Australia who would otherwise have been within the scope of the survey. The exclusion of these persons will have only a minor impact on any aggregate estimates that are produced for individual states and territories, except in the Northern Territory where such persons account for about 20% of the population.


COVERAGE

6 The estimates in this publication relate to persons covered by the survey in June 2002. In the LFS, coverage rules were applied which aim to ensure that each person was associated with only one dwelling and hence has only one chance of selection. See Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) for more details.


COLLECTION METHODOLOGY

7 Information was obtained through interviews conducted over a two-week period between 12 and 24 June 2002. Data collected on the use of child care related to the week prior to the interview (with the exception of Tasmania where it related to 27 May to 2 June to avoid Tasmanian school holidays).

8 In each selected household, detailed information about each child's child care was collected for a maximum of two children. Information was obtained from an adult who permanently resided in the selected household and was either the child's parent, step-parent or guardian. In selected households with more than two children aged under 12 years, two children were randomly selected and the complete set of child care information was collected for them. Summary information was collected for the additional children including number attending, CCB arrangements for, and cost of formal and informal care.

9 This sampling methodology differs from that used in 1999 where a small set of information was collected for each of the 3rd, 4th and 5th child in the household and the sampling methodology used in the 1996 survey and earlier, where a complete set of child care information was collected for all children resident in a selected household.


CHANGES BETWEEN SURVEYS

10 Some changes were made in the survey content between 1999 and 2002.
  • Questions on the CCB replaced the previous questions on the Child Care Rebate.
  • New questions were asked about whether a preschool/kindergarten education program was provided at the long day care centre or occasional care centre attended by the child.
  • In 1999, questions were asked about the year of arrival of children born overseas and whether the child's preschool provided care before 9 am or after 5 pm, conducted its program during school holidays and was in a suitable location. These questions were not asked in 2002.
  • In 1999, more detailed information was collected on country of birth.
  • In 2002, main language spoken at home was collected in relation to the child rather then the parent (as was the case in 1999).


CHILD CARE BENEFIT

11 The CCB was introduced in July 2000 and replaced Child Care Assistance and the Child Care Rebate. The CCB is a payment to help families who use approved and registered care (which broadly align with formal and informal care). Services must be approved or registered for parents to receive the CCB.

12 Families using approved child care services can choose to receive their CCB as reduced child care fees (benefit paid direct to provider) or as a lump sum payment at the end of the financial year (benefit paid direct to parent). Families using registered care can only claim their CCB through the year upon production of receipts. For more details on the CCB, see http://www.familyassist.gov.au.


COST OF CARE

13 Within this publication, cost of care is the net cost of care to the parents after the CCB has been paid. Net cost of care was calculated by collecting basic information from parents that enabled the ABS to estimate the CCB and then deduct the CCB from the reported cost of care.

14 To determine whether the CCB needed to be estimated for a particular child, children were categorised in the following groups:
  • CCB did not need to be calculated by the ABS as no CCB to be paid - this applied to children with no cost of care, and those children whose parents had not claimed and did not intend to claim the CCB.
  • CCB did not need to be calculated by the ABS as reported amount excluded the CCB - this applied to children who used formal care and whose CCB was paid direct to the provider (and therefore the parents paid reduced fees excluding the CCB).
  • CCB did need to be calculated by the ABS - this applied to children who used formal care and whose parents intended to claim the CCB, and children who used informal care and the parents had claimed or intended to claim the CCB.

15 The ABS estimated the amount of CCB using the CCB Ready Reckoner provided by the Department of Family and Community Services. The Ready Reckoner calculates the CCB using the number of hours of care, the standard hourly rate, family income and number of children in the family using child care, whether the child attends school and, for long day care, whether care is part- or full-time.

16 In estimating the CCB, the ABS assumed that:
  • if the parent intended to claim the CCB, then the care provider was eligible (i.e.approved in the case of formal child care services or registered in the case of informal child care services)
  • basic eligibility requirements for the benefit were met (e.g. residency and children's immunisation)
  • parents would be willing to provide their tax file number to the Family Assistance Office, which would enable them to obtain the CCB above minimum rates (depending upon the parents income)
  • parents met the work, study or training test, which is required for CCB in relation to registered care and is required for CCB in excess of 20 hours care per week for approved care.


RELIABILITY OF THE ESTIMATES

17 Estimates if this publication are subject to sampling and non-sampling errors:
  • sampling error is the difference between the published estimate and the value that would have been produced if all dwellings had been included in the survey. For more information see the Technical Note.
  • non-sampling errors are inaccuracies that occur because of imperfections in reporting by respondents and interviewers, and errors made in coding and processing data. These inaccuracies may occur in any enumeration whether it be a full count or a sample. Every effort is made to reduce the non-sampling error to a minimum by careful design of questionnaires, intensive training and supervision of interviewers, and efficient processing procedures.


NEXT SURVEY

18 The ABS plans to conduct this survey again in June 2005.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

19 ABS publications draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated: without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.


DATA AVAILABLE ON REQUEST

20 In addition to the statistics included in this publication, the ABS may have other relevant data available. Enquiries can be made by emailing Stephen MacDermott at stephen.macdermott@abs.gov.au or by telephoning 02 6252 5165 or by facsimile
02 6252 7784.


RELATED PUBLICATIONS

21 Other ABS publications which may be of interest include:
  • State Young Persons publications, 1996 (cat. nos .4123.1-4123.8)

22 Current publications and other products released by the ABS are listed in the Catalogue of Publications and Products, Australia (cat. no. 1101.0). The Catalogue is available from any ABS office or the ABS web site. The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the web site which details products to be released in the week ahead.


GLOSSARY

Additional formal care
Additional formal care required in the last four weeks for children already using formal care, and formal care required in the last four weeks for children who did not currently use any.

Approved care
Care provided in a service which has been approved to receive Child Care Benefit payments on the parents behalf. Most long day care, family day care, before and/or after school care, vacation and some in-home and occasional care providers are approved child care services.

Area of usual residence
State capital cities comprises the Statistical Divisions of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Hobart. Note that Darwin and Canberra are excluded from this category.
Balance of Australia comprises all areas outside the capital cities mentioned above, plus Canberra and Darwin.

Before and/or after school care program
A type of formal care available to school-aged children before and/or after school hours.

Brother/sister care
Informal care by the child's brothers or sisters, including step brothers or sisters.

Child care arrangements
Relates to those types of care described as formal and informal.

Child Care Benefit (CCB)
The Child Care Benefit, formerly Child Care Assistance and Child Care Rebate, is a payment to help families with their child care costs. It is funded by the Department of Family and Community Services and paid through the Family Assistance Office.

Children
All children under 12 years of age in scope for the survey.

Cost of care
Net amount paid by parents for a child to attend care. Where the CCB was claimed directly by the parents, the CCB amount in the reference week, is subtracted from the total cost, including no cost of care.

Family
Two or more persons, one of whom is at least 15 years of age, who are related by blood, marriage (registered or de facto), adoption, step or fostering; and who are usually resident in the same household. The basis of a family is formed by identifying the presence of a couple relationship, lone parent-child relationship or other blood relationship. Some households will, therefore, contain more than one family.

Family day care
A type of formal care offered in private homes by registered carers, available for a full day or part day to children of all ages.

Family type
Refers to one parent or couple families.

Father
The natural, adopted or step father of the child, or the male legal guardian of the child, or the spouse or de facto partner of the mother. The father must be resident in the same household as the child.

Formal care
Regulated care away from the child's home. The main types of formal care are before and/or after school care, long day care, family day care, occasional care and preschool. Total formal care comprises formal care only and combinations of formal and informal care.

Full-time/part-time workers
Full-time workers are employed persons who usually work 35 hours or more a week and others who, although they usually work less than 35 hours a week, worked 35 hours or more during the reference week.

Part-time workers are employed persons who usually work less than 35 hours a week and who did so during the reference week.

Grandparent care
Informal care by the child's grandmother or grandfather.

Hours of care
Number of hours a child attended child care in the reference week.

Hours worked
Number of hours actually worked by the child's parent(s) in the reference week.

Informal care
Non-regulated care, arranged by a child's parent/guardian, either in the child's home or elsewhere. It comprises care by (step) brothers or sisters, care by grandparents, care by other relatives (including a parent living elsewhere) and care by other (unrelated) people such as friends, neighbours, nannies or babysitters. It may be paid or unpaid. Total informal care comprises informal care only and combinations of informal and formal care.

Long day care centre
Regulated, centre-based care which is available to children between birth and school age for the full day or part day. Centres are usually open for most of the year.

Median
The value which divides the population into two equal parts, one falling below the value and one above.

Mother
The natural, adopted or step mother of the child, the female legal guardian of the child, or the spouse or de facto partner of the father. The mother must be resident in the same household as the child.

Occasional care
Regulated care which is generally available to children between birth and school age for short periods of time, for example to allow parents to shop, attend appointments, or to take brief breaks from parenting.

Other formal care
A type of formal care other than before and/or after school care, long day care, family day care, occasional care and preschool.

Other person care
Informal care by people who are not related to the child such as family friends, babysitters, nannies or neighbours.

Other relative care
Informal care by relatives of the child excluding (step) brothers and sisters, and grandparents. It includes care by the child's other parent living elsewhere, 'in-laws' who are not grandparents of the child and other relatives such as aunt, uncle or cousin .

Preschool
Educational and developmental programs for children in the year (or in some jurisdictions, two years) before they begin full-time primary education.

Reason used care/reason required additional formal care
Respondents were asked to identify all reasons and the main reason.

Work-related reasons include working, looking for work and studying/training for work.

Personal reasons include study or training not related to work, shopping, entertainment, social or sporting activities, giving parents a break/time alone, caring for relatives, visiting doctor, or undertaking voluntary/community activities.

Beneficial for child reasons include good for child and preparation for school.

Registered care
Care provided by nannies, grandparents, relatives or friends who are registered with the Family Assistance Office. It can also include care provided by private preschools, kindergartens, some occasional care centres and some outside school hours care services.

Vacation care
A service provided to school children during the school holidays.

Weekly income of parents
In couple families, total income received from all sources by the couple. In one parent families, the total income from all sources of the lone parent.

Work arrangements
Arrangements, such as flexible working hours, permanent part-time work, shiftwork, job sharing or working at home, normally used by employed parents to assist them to care for their child(ren).


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