As we mentioned as it broke this afternoon, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has targeted families – and working mums in particular – in his first formal policy announcement of the election campaign, announcing $450 million for out-of-school hours care.
The funding will allow schools to either extend and improve their existing program or to establish a new program. Up to 500 schools and 345,000 primary school children are expected to benefit.
Mr Rudd told a press conference that, “This is designed to help families with cost of living pressures and to help deal with the time constraints of daily life.”
He said schools could offer “music programs, supervised sports, homework clubs, the practical stuff which makes that time before or after school useful and a fun place to be as well”.
“Organised homework is part of it but we have also seen great programs around the country whereby there is supervised physical activity, kids are taken out from behind the computer, putting balls through hoops and doing all that sort of thing,” he said.
Mr Rudd also said the funds would help encourage more women to stay in the workforce after having children.
Let’s hope that means that there are no plans to change the childcare tax rebate system or childcare benefits too. We’ve written previously about how important these are to help mums stay in the workforce.
The Government says that the out-of-school hours care sector has increased by 64 per cent since it took office in 2007.
There are currently 8,413 services available – which is great except if your school doesn’t have one. Hopefully this announcement will help.
Other details as announced by the Prime Minister today are available here.
The Coalition has promised to tackle childcare availability and costs by instigating an “urgent” Productivity Commission inquiry.
Let’s hope we see more from both parties for working mums before September 7.