Hearing parent's voices: choosing quality long day care in northern regional Australia

Harris, Nonie, and Tinning, Beth (2010) Hearing parent's voices: choosing quality long day care in northern regional Australia. In: Proceedings of 11th Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference. pp. 1-16. From: 11th Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference, 7 - 9 July 2010, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

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The last decade saw the rise and collapse of Australia's largest for-profit child care provider. Policy makers assumed that the for-profit sector would ensure a 'market' that provided a wider range of child care choice, and increased opportunities for accessing quality long day care. However, in rural and regional areas, the idea of 'choice' is necessarily limited by what is available within a practical distance. With smaller populations and less likelihood of profit making economies of scale, choice has been reduced to an idea of 'luck', if indeed parents are able to find a vacancy in their child care service of 'choice'.

This paper presents qualitative data gathered from 70 parents in Northern Regional Australia, interviewed in two research studies in 2007 and 2009. Parents from Darwin, Cairns, Townsville and Mackay spoke of their search for quality long day care in a complex and rapidly changing child care landscape. For Indigenous and non-Indigenous parents the role child care played in their lives went far beyond an educational tool or child minding service. In communities often characterised by distance from friends and family, fluctuating economic growth and limited services for those outside the mainstream community, quality child care can offer the hub of 'community' that many families seek.

At this critical time of child care policy change this research draws on the voices of parents to explore the interplay between conceptions of family, and ideas of choice, quality and the market mechanism.

Item ID: 16009
Item Type: Conference Item (Presentation)
Date Deposited: 11 May 2011 03:01
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1607 Social Work > 160703 Social Program Evaluation @ 100%
SEO Codes: 94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9401 Community Service (excl. Work) > 940105 Childrens/Youth Services and Childcare @ 100%
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