When welcoming a new member to your family and bringing a child into the fold of your household, one of the largest financial considerations you and your partner must make is the decision on whether or not to enroll your child into a childcare center or kindergarten, or entrust the development of your child to some alternative form of parenting and raising. While most parents have the ability to stay at home with their children during the allotted period of parental leave, that time comes to an end and parents must decide on how to continue their child’s development from there.
Average Cost of Childcare for Children Under 6
The average cost for childcare of children that are not yet of preschool and kindergarten age across Australia is approximately $12 AUD per hour. For parents that will work 32-40 hours a week, that is a daycare or childcare cost of about $384-$480 a week. Of course these costs will fluctuate depending on your location and the availability of childcare within your region, but considering the average nationally, parents could anticipate spending well over $20,000 a year on childcare expenses alone.
With the average individual salary in 2020 for Australians was $80,000 per year, it may seem that a household of a combined income of $160,000 AUD a year might be more than sufficient to cover childcare expenses.
For children enrolled in preschool and kindergarten for the recommended free period of 15 hours a week, childcare costs may be significantly less, cutting down on out of school childcare costs by nearly half.
Pros and Cons of Enrolling In Childcare or Kindergarten
Some of the more obvious benefits of enrolling your child into daycare or childcare centre will be giving yourself and your spouse or partner the ability to go back to work and continue to earn the income required to maintain your household with the new addition of a child. According to a 2016 study, the average cost to raise a child in a middle class family in Australia from infancy to age 17 was approximately $297,600 AUD which is no small figure, even divided by 17 years into $17,505 AUD annually. Two incomes can insure a certain quality of life for your child when both you and your partner choose to work full time, which enrolling your child in daycare will allow.
Another benefit to enrolling your child into daycare or childcare at a young age will be allowing them to learn socialization skills early, and developing a more structured learning process and regimen.
Child care centres across Australia come in a variety of types and varying abilities. Checking on their principles of learning and education for your child can be important.
These are some cons of enrolling your child into a daycare or childcare, especially if done too soon. Developmental delays and other health deficits do not often appear in children until the age of 6-8 months, while government parental leave in Australia is only 18 weeks. Many consider an infant of under 6 months old to be too young to be enrolled in a childcare facility.
In a daycare or childcare facility your infant or child may also not receive the kind of one-on-one time necessary for cognitive development that is paramount in the first year of life, as daycare and childcare providers’ time is divided between multiple children. If you have apprehensions or anxieties about separating from your child, and worry for their cognitive development it may be worth considering other childcare options such as stay-at-home parenting or hiring a nanny.
Cost Analysis of Alternatives
The alternatives to enrolling your child into a regular daycare or childcare facility are primarily one parent becoming a stay-at-home parent, or hiring a nanny. The cost to have one member of your household become a stay-at-home parent for some time usually means cutting your income in half, although it can be more or less depending on the salary of the parent that becomes a stay-at-home parent.
For the average Australian household, this means slashing about $80,000 AUD from your household income, which is a significant sacrifice of income to consider, even if only for a couple of years. To have one parent become a stay-at-home parent for five years compared against having your child enrolled in a childcare or daycare for five years can mean the difference in a gain or loss of as much as $312,500 AUD over the course of five years.
The average cost of hiring a nanny in Australia is approximately $20-$30 AUD per hour, which can mean paying over double the amount that you could spend on a regular childcare facility. While this would allow both partners to continue working, spending $30,000-$40,000 AUD annually for childcare may not be ideal depending on the cost of living beyond childcare expenses.
The decision on whether or not to enroll your child into daycare, or to choose an alternative is a deeply personal decision. In the same breadth, the decision must be made with a close eye on your household’s income and capabilities to provide the best care and developmental decisions for your child moving forward.