In grim news for parents, Sydney is the most expensive place to send children to daycare, with the eastern suburb of Rose Bay taking out the top spot across Australia with a cost of $168 per day.
Seven Sydney suburbs featured in the top 10 most expensive suburbs for childcare, including Mosman, Surry Hills, Coogee, Bondi, Crows Nest and Vaucluse, revealed data from a new app called KindiCare, that rates childcare providers around Australia.
For Melbourne, the inner city suburb of Armadale was the most expensive for the state setting parents back $161 a day.
Those in Tasmania paid the least for childcare, with four suburbs in the top 10, including the suburb of Perth which lies 20km from Launceston, offering the cheapest rate at just $73 per day.
KindiCare is designed to help parents find childcare and uses a unique system to rate services across the country, combining a number of factors to assess the quality of care, including government audits and community feedback.
It was created by Sydney father-of-two Benjamin Balk, who experienced first-hand along with his wife the stress that came with trying to find quality and affordable childcare.
He said he wasn’t surprised that Sydney and Melbourne came in as the most expensive places for childcare in Australia, with the huge cost of property and leases a contributing factor.
The 41-year-old, who has two daughters aged three and five, noted there was big variation in price between the same childcare provider across different suburbs in the same city – but price didn’t always reflect quality.
“So for example you see that across Sydney even the same brand of childcare is more expensive in the CBD than in Parramatta,” he told news.com.au.
“With a lot of products, if you pay more there is generally better quality getting delivered, but that’s not necessarily the case in childcare. It depends on what features and inclusions there are – some private operators offer features like all meals included, an onsite chef and music lessons, but a more basic centre can have still good education values and outcomes without these offerings.”
While Mr Balk said there was a fair amount of childcare subsidy available to Aussie families, including the recent Federal Government injection of $1.7 billion, there was a problem when two parents were both earning a good income.
He noted that often the mother had to make a tough choice on whether to keep up her skills and maintain her position in the workforce and spend all the money she made on childcare or to stay at home for a few years.
“I don’t think that should be a choice we are putting on people in Australia. Early education is an investment in long-term outcomes and the earlier children start and participate in early formal learning, there are better individual outcomes,” he said. “It’s an investment in our country’s future.”
Mr Balk said there were sophisticated apps for property, cars and careers, but nothing like that existed for childcare and he created KindiCare to help parents navigate the complicated system.
He said his own wife started looking for childcare when she was just three months pregnant and they put their name down for six childcare centres across North Sydney and Castle Hill.
“We got offered one place, but the childcare director had changed and there were kids on the floor crying and people in disarray and the director didn’t come from an early education background, so even though we were offered a place, there was no way we were going to leave our children there,” he said.
Users of the app can evaluate childcare centres by location, cost, availability, ratings, inclusions and features, and services offered, and create a shortlist of their favourites.
Through the app, parents can make inquiries, book visits or tours, and apply for childcare places.
“One frustration my wife had was every centre she applied for she had to enter information and fill out forms and with KindiCare that information is saved after the first time you do it,” he explained.
“I also found vacancy information in the market is pretty poor as well, so there’s not a clear view of which centres have vacancies or not. You might see a centre that has vacancies but it might only be for next year. So we are trying to make the process easier and with Kindicare, it’s more like an instant messaging function, so you can simply send a basic inquiry about whether there is a vacancy and the centre can respond really quickly and it can eliminate a lot of paperwork if you find out a place is not available.”
Kindicare only launched two weeks ago but has already been downloaded 2000 times.
ACT’s high price tag nationally
Overall, KindiCare found the average cost of long daycare services across the country is $112.73 per day, well below the average for many Sydney suburbs.
KindiCare also revealed that while ACT has the highest quality of childcare in Australia, it comes with a high price tag seeing parents fork out over $2000 more per year than the national average.
But at an average $95.50 per day, the cost of childcare in Tasmania is 15.5 per cent below the national benchmark but centres in the state also ranked as some of the lowest, according to KindiCare’s rating system.
Most expensive Aussie suburbs for childcare per day: