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The Forum > Article Comments > Shocking childhoods > Comments

Shocking childhoods : Comments

By Alice Hill, published 10/9/2008

Childcare as child protection: we need early childhood education and care for the kids who need it most.

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"For vulnerable families, a commitment to the intelligent use of childcare as a key component of child and family support would go a long way to providing relief, support and education".
I couln't agree more.
Childcare centres should not be, predominantly, middle class welfare.
Any child not receiving adequate physical care or stimulating intellectual care should be the responsibility of all of us through our agent, a government body, assisted where possible by volunteers. We don't want the situation with institutionalised children as occurred in Rumania but we should be able to do better than that.
The old comment that, "We don't own our children; we borrow them from the future" comes to mind. Our community owes each child the best future we can provide.
Posted by Foyle, Wednesday, 10 September 2008 10:44:23 AM
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This is not acceptable. These children face a bleak future. Why cant we amend our current childcare system to help out.

Every daycare scheme should be required to allocate a certain percentage of places to children at risk (of physical and emotional abuse or neglect).Every child is currently eligible for up to 24 hours of CCB-supported care,whether parents are working or not. The level of CCB is based on parental income. It is probably a reasonable generalisation that most children at risk would come from households where parents would qualify for full CCB (and would also be entitled to the new 50% childcare rebate).

Modify the system.Each "at-risk" child must attend a form of childcare (either a centre or family daycare) for 15 hours a week).This gives them a chance at normal socialisation and education.From the age of 6 months-get them early so that they grow up with it being as normal as possible.

How to pay for it?If you reduce the max hours for these kids from 24 to 15 per week,it will pay for itself (or at least taxpayers would not be out of pocket anymore than current entitlements anyway). Assuming a charge of $6/hr now,24 hrs of care = $144.The taxpayer kicks in $83.28 of CCB (fullrate), plus another $30.10 CCR to make a total of $113.38/week cost NOW.Cut to 15 hours,and fully fund =15x$6 =$90/week.It would actually cost $23.38/week per child less.If the chldcare centre charged $8/hr,cost now would be $137.62,compared to $120/week based on suggested changes. Even at $10/hr,it still saves $11.62/week compared to cost now.The savings could even be used to subsidise transport or nappies and food for these days. The days could be 1 full plus 1 half,or 3 half days,depending on what is best for the child and their circumstances. In the larger centres,whole schemes could be formed around these ideals,enabling streamlining of support services and providing for visits from health professionals etc.

This is do-able people! Why are these kids allowed to slip under our radar.
Posted by Country Gal, Wednesday, 10 September 2008 11:43:04 AM
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I think this article is extremely interesting and timely. I also agree with the first two comments posted. From my experience of being an abused child I feel it is essential for children to be actually seen and not be hidden away. For parents who have mental, drug/alcohol problems keeping the child from public or extended family view makes the abuse easier "out of sight, out of mind".
Every child has the right to be given a good chance to grow up with reasonable social, health and educational standards. To mix socially with others is paramount in the makeup of any child's brain, the earlier the intervention the better.
What would be needed in extreme and not so extreme cases is that once the child is accepted into a preschool, transport to and from has to be arranged so that there can be no excuses for the parent/s in getting them there.
With intervention a child has a much better chance of becomming a stable adult.
After years of abuse at the hands of family members it is very hard to learn the proper social skills required to fit into society. I believe that children should be protected at all costs and at all times, and that child care facilities have a definite place to help.

Maree Lorraine
Posted by MAREE LORRAINE, Wednesday, 10 September 2008 12:35:07 PM
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The existence of children whose experience of family life is unhappy or negative is a social problem of deep significance, not only because of the way it creates individuals who are unhappy and under-achieving adults, but because it injects an overall negativity into our culture as a whole.

Class assignment research I set up while teaching at LaTrobe a while back strongly suggested that about half the Anglo-Australian population had had unhappy childhoods.

However, the notion that this situation can be remedied by putting all such children into childcare creates a nightmare scenario. I have addressed some aspects of this idea in my piece, published last Friday in OLO, on "What to do with the ankle-biters".

Here I would just like to say that it is a persistent delusion of government that children can be saved FROM their parents. While it may be a more difficult challenge, the only really useful way to improve the situation is to support family life, by such unobtrusive methods as tax breaks and economic advantages attached to the maintenance of intact families. Most parents begin child-rearing in a positive and excited frame of mind. It all just gets too hard, too soon, and many collapse under the strain and take it out on their partners - and their kids. NO childcare options can compensate for or remediate this.

Dr. Hill's presumably unconscious self-interest in advocating her solution should be noted.

Let's see if a fundamental rethink on how to create good society can produce a better answer.
Posted by veritas, Thursday, 11 September 2008 1:48:13 PM
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veritas, you miss the point that there are many out there who are patently not capable of being parents. This solution isnt for those that are a bit tired of being a parent, its for those that are incapable of providing the basic family structure and support that many of us take for granted (and even single parents can provide family structure, so please dont go off on a tangent there). If you dont think that these people are out there then you cant be out of the affluent suburbs very much. Where I live there is a playgroup program aimed at at risk children and their parents, which is a good start, but still doesnt address the needs of those kids whose parents couldnt be bothered. You are trying to approach this from the point of view that all adults are reasonable and ambitious people, which is quite untrue.

I am not advocating that these kids go into long daycare everyday, simply that they have access to other adults and learn to socialise with other children, and receive a bit of encouragement and emotional support. And I dont think it should be a State responsibility to "rescue" kids from their parents, such a program coud quite easily be run by a NFP. I am simply pointing out that the money to do so is THERE NOW.
Posted by Country Gal, Thursday, 11 September 2008 2:05:18 PM
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Country Gal - what I am actually suggesting is that both our marriage laws and norms and our family culture have failed young parents and children - and that childcare as a way to address this issue is a bandaid solution that fails to staunch the blood flow. We need a fundamental rethink, and a strategy that will encourage and support high-investment parenting. We will end up with happier people and a happier society.

Playgroups and the like, where at least one parent is present the whole time are fine, but we both know that is not what we are really discussing. The recently published COAG Report has in mind to upgrade childcare centres so that parents can have greater confidence in them - but better staff-child ratios and better credentialled staff will not remedy the problem that arises when mothers and their under-threes are regularly and profoundly separated. The only 'social skills' an under-three should be developing are deep and loving relationships with the family's adults and get-along, knockabout exchanges with siblings and any neighbourhood toddlers that happen to be around.
Posted by veritas, Thursday, 11 September 2008 11:05:40 PM
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