Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Childcare shortages

Interesting article in the SMH today about how the lack of childcare is stopping people from working.

A few interesting points; as suzoz pointed here a few days ago, family day care is not that popular, because increasingly the higher standards and professionalism of long day care (whether real or perceived) is more popular. So there isn't as much pent up demand for family day care as there used to be.

And the big pent-up demand is for after school care. Which also makes sense. That point at which your child goes to school is, for many mothers (and fathers, maybe) the point at which it seems sensible to think about working again. But after school care is the least susceptible of all forms of care to market forces. It makes sense to have it on school grounds, so there is always a natural monopoly at each school. And it's not that easy to find carers for the odd hours, so the big listed players can't make much money out of it.

So the coalition solution of leaving the market to provide is very unlikely to work without a bit of help.

As a believer in usefulness of the market for many issues, it annoys me intensely when it's treated as a god that will fix everything, even things that have clear issues that will never be fixed without intervention - natural monopolies, externalities, imperfect information... all things that stop "the market" working. But the coalition seems to want to assume them out of existence.


At 7:48 am, Blogger Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

What's a family day care?

We have after-care programs here. My kids are too young for them, but I hear they're great. Crowded but great. I sure hope so, because my kids will be spending lots of time there! As you say I intend to start working fulltime when they're both in school.

At 6:38 pm, Blogger Jennifer said...

Family day care is someone looking after up to five children in their own home. It's regulated, but cheaper than long day care, because the carer doesn't have to be qualified in any way.

At 8:40 am, Blogger Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

Interesting. My kids are in what would be considered family day care. I love it. That is, I loved it when they were really little. My son is 4 and seems now to need more than she can provide.

At 7:45 pm, Blogger Melly` said...

Years ago when my oldest daughter was little she had a wonderful family day care lady - Nora. My daughter LOVED Nora and loved to go to her. The powers that be decided that Nora's situation meant that she could only have X amount of children and that my daughter was the Y that had to go to alternative care. Thus begun two years of hell. Sigh.


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