Childcare maze needs a productivity commission fix

“Childcare has always been seen as a suitable job for a woman,” states Wendy McCarthy in a piece published by the AFR 15 May 2013.

“Well brought up girls in my country town were encouraged to become kindergarten teachers and places at kindergarten training colleges were highly competitive. An alternative was a qualification in infant care.

It sat well with the commonplace view of women in the 1950s, and ensured their nurturing and maternal skills were developed together with an understanding of child development. Wages were modest at best, but it was seen as good work.

It was a perfect middle-class preparation for marriage and motherhood, suited to women who would almost certainly leave paid work after they married. The current debate about increased wages for childcare workers reminds us yet again how difficult it is to value women’s work. It remains part of the cultural baggage which still surrounds discussion of early learning and childcare issues.

Childcare is a tricky problem that defies linear solutions and easy definitions.

The evidence is clear that the early years have profound consequences for the rest of our children’s lives. Laying a solid foundation is essential. We have to get over the idea that childcare is just a matter of babysitting.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that all children have the right to an education that lays a foundation for the rest of their lives.

So why can we not get this right for our children? And why can we not get it right for women?”

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