Parents forced to work from home or use annual leave after being turned away from holiday childcare programs

About 500 Canberra families have been turned away from childcare programs this winter, due to a shortage of workers in the sector.

Communities At Work CEO Lee Maiden said his organisation, which is the largest childcare provider in Canberra, received more than 6,000 applications but only around 5,500 children were seen. offer seats.

She said there was a critical shortage of staff in the area, but demand for school holidays compounded by outbreaks of COVID-19 and flu had forced the number of places to be capped.

“We have around 600 ACT staff,” Ms Maiden said.

“If we use every staff member and educator we have to fill these positions, it only takes one or two of them to be sick and we cannot replace them.

Lee Maiden, CEO of Communities at Work, Canberra. (ABC News: Andrew Kennedy)

Run-off effect for workplaces

Canberra Business Chamber chief executive Graham Catt said parents taking time off during school holidays, combined with high rates of illness, had had a major impact on small businesses in particular.

“For our businesses, that means more parents who can’t come to work,” Catt said.

“It exacerbates the problems in terms of absenteeism that we see every day.

Man wearing a suit looking straight ahead.
Canberra Business Chamber CEO Graham Catt said 30% of the workforce call in sick every day. (ABC News: David Sciasci)

Brooke McBain works in the city and has juggled caring for her son this school vacation.

She said many of her friends were in the same boat with their young children.

“I’m lucky to work part-time and have the opportunity to take time with him,” Ms McBain said.

“I can understand it’s quite difficult for parents who can’t get that time off and childcare.”

She said the whole pandemic had been a challenge with her son

“Juggling my husband and my hours was tough, but in the end everyone was really supportive and my friends are in the same boat,” she said.

More than 1,000 cases of COVID-19 are reported daily in the ACT.

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