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Annemarie Sansom


Hi, my name is Annemarie and I am the Client Services director for Night Nannies. I use this blog as a way to give you tips and idea's in all areas of childcare and development.

Posted 15 May 12

Coalition plans for sweeping changes to nanny industry

by: Patricia Karvelas From: The Australian May 15, 2012 12:00AM

THE Coalition has begun discussions with the nanny industry over stamping out "backyard care", as it pursues its goal of extending the childcare rebate to in-home carers, in the event of an Abbott government.

Opposition childcare spokeswoman Sussan Ley said she had spoken to several nanny services about regulation.

"There is absolutely no doubt in my mind the need for more flexible and out-of-hours care options, including before- and after-school care, is becoming a critical issue in the changing working dynamic for mums and families," Ms Ley said.

"No one should want to see the increasing pattern of women dropping out of the workforce or choosing unregulated backyard options if it can be avoided, and government needs to respond to what is a growing reality."

Ms Ley's comments come after The Weekend Australian revealed last Saturday that a group of nannies had formed a lobby group to fight for regulation and, ultimately, government subsidies for the work they do raising children in family homes.

Tony Abbott has said a Coalition government would ask the Productivity Commission to see how to make childcare more flexible, such as raising subsidies for home care.

David Wilson, the president of the National In-home Childcare Association, currently the only government-subsidised nanny scheme, yesterday hit back over warnings by the Australian Child Care Alliance that homes could be unsafe places to care for children, who would not receive the pre-school education they needed.

He said: "If you put the needs of children first, then the expansion of a regulated and supportive program such as in-home care can only provide better outcomes for the children who currently are in unregulated in-home care."

A spokeswoman for Childcare Minister Kate Ellis said: "The minister engages regularly with stakeholders in the early education and care sector and is always open to discussions about what steps can be taken to improve affordability, accessibility and quality of care."

Posted 23 May 12

Defend nannies to oppose the nanny state

The Australian Childcare Alliance wants to get its hands on all Australia's children.

Currently, their expressed gripe is with nannies, who they claim have "no childcare qualifications", but most of the Alliance's arguments could be equally applied to parents.

The Childcare Alliance, which claims to represent 70 per cent of the long-day childcare sector, made their anti-nanny pitch as part of a paper responding to Tony Abbott's commitment to ask the Productivity Commission to explore extending childcare subsidies to nannies.

According to the Alliance, nannies just do not cut the mustard. Their paper claims that "the nannies course available in Australia is a baby-sitting course and falls significantly short of the standard set in long-day care centres where carers are university-trained and have ongoing intensive training and all-day supervision".

The fact that workers in the long-day childcare sector have extensive qualifications may be something that many parents appreciate and, if they do, it will be a commercial boon for that industry. However, while there is some evidence that exposure to such an environment is beneficial for children, there are equally strong views that children up to the age of three, in particular, thrive most in their own home, whether cared for by parents, grandparents or a nanny.

A few years ago, there were reports of increased stress levels in children placed in long day care and claims that primary school teachers could pick out the children who had been in long day care - and not for their educational advancement. Parents placing their children in such care were made to feel guilty for doing so. Now, the boot is being placed firmly on the other foot.

The Alliance's position has some powerful friends in the media. On a recent edition of ABC TV's influential 'Lateline' program, host Emma Alberici introduced a segment by saying that "the scientific research is clear and unchallenged that every child should be in pre-school by the age of three and it should be provided by the state".

There is some evidence that pre-school has benefits, but it is hardly strong enough for it to be mandated by the state to the exclusion of other options parents may choose. Indeed, some studies, such as that by Kay Margetts of Melbourne University's Graduate School of Education, have shown that, contrary to the Childcare Alliance's claims, children in longer care had lower levels of co-operation and academic competence than their peers once they were all in school.

The fact that the Childcare Alliance have made ludicrous claims about dangers in the home, such as power points and pets, for children supervised by nannies, tend to indicate that they are a bit desperate in their anti-nanny crusade. And, of course, a child at home with a nanny will often be taken to the park, to the shops, to playgroup, to swimming lessons, and on play dates with other children. This is not education within the four walls of a childcare centre, but education in the real world.

Further, if an untrained nanny is a problem, surely the same argument applies to untrained parents. Most parents have no tertiary childcare qualifications, having not even done the 'baby-sitting course', so on a certification basis the nannies might be at least one small step ahead.

And if the 'public health' debate is a guide, then it will not be long before government start mandating parental qualifications. Already some states are insisting on police checks before prospective parents can undertake IVF - how long before this is extended to some other aspects of parenting?

Initially, the 'public health' advocates were devotees of information campaigns, but are gradually moving towards the advocacy of more invasive public policy.

Following the same pattern, the Federal Government has begun mandating certain amounts of pre-schooling, rather than letting parents decide. It is clear that the institutionalised childcare zealots want to save the children from the in-home carers, be they nannies or parents.

Many parents will choose long-day care, either because they think it delivers the best outcomes, or because their personal circumstances dictate it. Other parents will want to keep their children at home through all their pre-school years. Some will choose a mix of both.

And, in the long-run, it probably won't make too much difference.

Bryan Caplan, a professor of economics at George Mason University, has extensively studied adoption and twin research and shown that, while upbringing might have some effects during childhood, once children reach adulthood they will revert to the path their nature pre-ordained for them in

matters such as financial success, health, happiness and values. Twins, who are separated at birth, and adopted out, end up closer to each other on a range of criteria, than either one does to his or her adoptive family.

So, instead of mandating a particular form of childcare, let parents decide and resist the Childcare Alliance's push to get the nanny state to crack down on nannies.

Richard Allsop Portrait of Richard Allsop

Research Fellow

Richard Allsop is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs.

He has previously worked for state and federal government ministers including being Chief of Staff to the two Transport Ministers in the Kennett Government. Other roles include being Director - Government Relations for The Agenda Group, a Senior Associate at Globe Communications and on the board of the Public Transport Ombudsman.

In 2007, Richard completed a study of the results of the privatisation of public transport services in Victoria. He has written for a range of publications including The Australian, The Age and Spectator Australia; has co-authored two books of football history; is currently undertaking a PhD in history on "The works of Geoffrey Blainey" and has worked on the Nine Network's election night coverage since 1993.

Areas of expertise: transport, privatisation and infrastructure; gambling; Australian political and social history; "Foundations of Western Civilisation" program.

Posted 31 May 12

Teething oh why?

Ive decided Im over teething.. yes we all need teeth. But seriously when it comes to twins is it possible twin bay Gods that they could possibly come at the same time rather than a week of hell and then a small snippet of a break to then start again with the other twin? No amount of Bonjella ordered from the UK without the Aspririn included by the Aussie version, Panadol and lots of natural helpers in the day seem to matter. The period of teething on and off especially in their second year should really be called the year of sleep deprivation.

You see you get a sneaky break mid way through the first year of your babys life when you think youve got the sleep under control and then suddenly someone decides to change the game plan. Youve recovered from the birth and youre starting to catch up on sleep then BOOM youre back to two to three wake ups or more a night. So because you dont have those lovely post pregnancy hormones and you have actually been getting some sleep its like a massive shock to your system. So every day you awake looking grey and old and haggard.

I know this is not true for every baby as I have some lovely Mummy friends whos babies apparently are not effected by this teething thing and blissfully sleep through all this fuss. Unfortunately my bubbas seem to have low pain thresholds and we continue with the sleep depo.

Oh well we will get there end the end and who could not smile and giggle even feeling like a zombie at those cute smiley gummy and toothy grins.

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