FEDERAL funding cuts have been blamed for a decision by Frankston Council to end its family day care program.
Frankston mayor Cr Sandra Mayer cited a federal government funding cut of $180,000 per year, equivalent to 40 per cent of the program’s annual cost in Frankston, as the major reason for council’s exit from overseeing family day care arrangements.
“Recent federal government changes have seen the number of service providers increase significantly, so council is no longer the sole provider of family day care in Frankston,” she said.
“Council will now work with existing council sub-contracted educators to help them register with alternative family day care providers, so there will be minimal or no disruption for families using the service.”
In a statement to The Times, Dunkley Liberal federal MP Bruce Billson said “family day care is not at risk in Frankston”.
“Frankston Council’s decision to stop providing administrative support to local family day care services will not reduce the number of family day care places available.
“The only change will be that instead of dealing with council on administrative issues the centres and families will go to another organisation.”
Mr Billson said “council had not raised concerns with me or my office about this issue”.
“The funding the council was getting was originally designed for remote, regional and disadvantaged communities.”
Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey’s controversial cost-cutting budget last year slashed $157 million of family day care funding nationally over three years.
Cr Mayer said rises in the cost of coordinating family day care services would have been passed on to families making it unaffordable for some.
The mayor said the financial impact could be “minimised by council subcontracted educators moving under other existing providers whose costs are lower than local government”.
A Labor state government proposal to cap future rate rises at the Consumer Price Index is also forcing council to reassess the services it provides.
“The loss of funding combined with potential rate-capping has put council under considerable pressure to deliver a wide range of services at minimal cost to the community. Family day care now has a range of non-council providers, and this move will allow council to focus on delivering services no one else provides,” Cr Mayer said.
“We have met with the educators who operate under council’s umbrella and they are understanding of our decision and supportive of the move to link with other providers.”
Cr Mayer said council had recruited, trained, monitored and provided resources to family day care providers and had managed the enrolment process.
The mayor said council wanted to ensure a smooth transition for families who use the service “after coordinating the family day care program on behalf of the federal government for over 30 years”.
Mr Billson said “[Frankston] Council itself says the impacts on families will be minimal and confirmed that one of the reasons for its decision was that there are other organisations in the area that can provide the coordination service.”
A spokeswoman for Mr Billson said “the Community Support Programme budget blew out by $200 million and was unsustainable”.
Changes to the management of family day care will begin in July.