The costs of Australian day care centres are mounting while one-fourth of them are missing out on the desired quality standards. These are findings of a study conducted by Mitchell Institute at Victoria University.

The report, to be released on Wednesday, calls for broader reforms in day care sector as educational outcomes are getting affected by external factors like affordability, family affluence and skewed funding for pre-school children centres.

It also expresses concerns over the declining quality standards in health, safety and care at these centres, reports The Australian.  

An average 95 percent of Australia’s four-year-olds enrol in government-funded preschool programs for at least 15 hours a week. Sara Glover, Mitchell Institute director said it is the time the government recognized the importance of childhood education.

She said the importance is underscored by the fact that 60,000 children start school each year with poor social skills and face behaviour problems that may hamper their progress for the rest of their lives.

The report also invites attention to the rising cost burden on parents who are paying 37 percent more for childcare compared to what it was in early 2012. The paradox is that as more staff was hired for improving quality, the ratings are still falling down.

The report said quality certification agency, National Quality Framework (NQF) has not bestowed quality stamp on one-fourth of the day care centres.

Calling for raising the bar on quality and numbers, the report looks at the fact that taxpayers are spending more on childcare subsidies. It can be noted that subsidies had jumped 250 percent in the last 10 years. The Turnbull government is planning to spend $11 billion for childcare in 2018-19.

On a serious note, the report says there is a growing hiatus in the educational outcomes of children from wealthy and worse-off families.

While one-third of the children does not attend the requisite hours of preschool, many children from poor communities have no scope for high-quality preschool, reports The Guardian.  

“Access and quality are still skewed by socioeconomic status, meaning that we are missing opportunities to extend access to quality early education to the children who stand to benefit most,” the report concludes.