Thursday, February 10, 2011

National - do some lateral thinking about childcare

The Government is signalling a big childcare boost under plans to push more DPB, sickness and invalid beneficiaries back into the workforce....."We need to absolutely have a focus on lifting those children out of benefit-based households, but it may cost us money to make it happen."

So says the PM.

The childcare needed to get people off the DPB or more accurately doing something productive needn't be more costly.

Let me explain by going back to what happened before the DPB when single mothers had to find ways of combining their childcare responsibilities with work. Karitane hospitals, for instance, employed young single mothers before and after the birth of their children. They paid them very little but accommodation, meals and childcare were provided. After the advent of the DPB those workers left. Maybe not directly as a result but ultimately the hospitals closed.

What people on the DPB need is a way of earning their income whether from the public (health, education) sector or private. If they want to keep their young children with them they could work in pre-school childcare centres or even offer child-minding in their own homes. Those who want to work in other caring roles (remembering the National government cut back on aged care in the community) can move into that sector at no extra cost to the atate if the government were to re-instate higher hours. Something has to give in respect of the rapidly ageing population and allowing elderly people to stay in their own homes is the best social and economic option. So a large movement of funding out of MSD and into Health makes sense. A reversal of what happened in the first place.

More creches in rest homes are needed; more creches in schools; more creches in large centres of employment.

The nub of it is the country needs to either stop paying the DPB or get a return for the money that is being spent. For small government advocates, even the latter would be an improvement. The change would be neither punitive nor, most importantly, hurt children. And with the non-working lifestyle no longer an option the number of single parent families might just stop rising.

The objection to reforming the DPB that comes up constantly is 1/ there is no childcare and 2/ there are no jobs. With half of those on the DPB caring for just one child the solution is blindingly obvious.


Anonymous said...

You are spot on. The solution is so blindingly obvious that it has always surprised me that no one is strongly advocating it. Giving DPB mothers the opportunity to work in care for the elderly/schools, while associating daycare with schools and elderly care facilities is a win/win solution all around, albeit that it goes directly against well established commercial priorities in both sectors, that rather suck of the government teat than coming up with pragmatic solutions.


Muerk said...

Although I do want to point out (having worked as a nurse aid) that not everyone is suited to this kind of work.

My Miracle Baby said...

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