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Budget 2005: Greater choice for working parents

18 May 2005

Budget 2005: Greater choice for working parents

The government will invest an extra $55 million over the next four years in childcare and employer support initiatives to enhance the work choices available to parents, Prime Minister Helen Clark and Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey announced today.

"This a significant investment which will help to ensure access to childcare is no longer a financial hurdle for parents looking to return to work," Helen Clark said.

"The widened eligibility will see around 70 per cent of all families with children eligible for extra assistance, including 96 per cent of all sole parents."

The initiatives include increased funding for Out of School Care and Recreation (OSCAR) providers, increased income thresholds for OSCAR and Childcare subsidies and the extension of childcare subsidies to home-based care.

Other funding includes:

- An increase in the number of OSCAR field workers from 8 to 14
- Extra resources to help businesses attract and retain workers from non-traditional labour pools
- up to $178,000 a year for industries to pilot and evaluate proposals for improving the attractiveness of their industry to under-represented groups of workers.

Steve Maharey said that with significant increases in labour market participation in recent years, it was essential that working parents had access to affordable childcare and out of school care.

"The extra support for parents is timely given the record levels of workforce participation, including record high female participation at 60.8 percent," Steve Maharey said.

"These initiatives will help to meet the demands of a growing labour market, while giving families the support they need to achieve a good balance between work and family life."

The initiatives are over and above the extra assistance offered through the Working for Families package, which saw childcare Assistance rates increased by 10 percent last year – with a further 10 percent boost in October this year.

ENDS

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