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Paperwork eats into child care

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INSTEAD of tending to the needs of young children, child care worker Dearne McKenzie is forced to spend a lot of her time doing paperwork.

And she believes the situation is getting worse.

Time spent on paperwork - which she says has tripled as a result of complying with government regulations - is a subject Ms McKenzie wants considered by the federal Coalition's planned productivity commission inquiry into childcare.

The inquiry, announced last week, aims to improve the current system and make childcare more responsive to the needs of parents.

Ms McKenzie, the operations manager at All About Kids Early Learning Centre in Eagleby, has worked in child care for 20 years.

"Twenty years ago we were doing the same things we're doing now but we were doing it with a lot less paperwork," she said,

"A lot of our staff spend time, at home, outside of work, catching up on paperwork."

Shadow Child Care Minister Sussan Ley visited Ms McKenzie's centre last week to examine the impact national child care reforms were having locally.

She was accompanied by Federal Member for Forde Bert van Manen, and said her visit confirmed that educators were indeed drowning in a sea of paperwork.

"I look at it from the perspective of the child," Ms Ley said.

"If staff members are stuck away writing things about the kids, it's time that can be better spent playing with them."

Ms McKenzie said the high cost of child care was another issue of concern.

"There are a lot of stressed parents who can't afford a lot of care," she said.

Ms McKenzie also said wages for early learning teachers were so low they struggled to attract applicants.

Instead they were forced to source people from overseas on temporary work visas.

She said she recently advertised a position in a Queensland newspaper but received responses only from overseas applicants.

"We do the same amount of study that teachers do - if not more - and have a lot more responsibilities, with nappy changing, the lifting and everything else.

"We're just not getting recognised as much as we should be."


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