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Childcare centres offer parents gift cards to switch from rival businesses

What childcare crisis? Mums and dads are being poached by desperate providers to fill their spots.


Parents are being poached from rival childcare centres in a desperate bid by operators to fill their spots.

Some day care providers are handing out gift cards to entice clients, in a fight for toddlers from rival centres.

The Parenthood acting executive director Nicole Lessio told The Daily Telegraph some daycare providers in Sydney’s west were offering parents $50 gift cards to switch centres.

“In the outer suburbs there’s been a proliferation of childcare centres and people have been poaching children from one centre to another,’’ she said.

It comes as operators are now demanding a ban on competitors opening nearby, in a bid to protect their taxpayer-funded profits.

Despite long waiting lists and record high prices for childcare in Sydney, existing centres want the state government to stop new ones opening within a 1km radius.


Generic photo of children at a daycare centre / childcare centre. Picture: iStockChildcare centres don’t want other businesses opening near them. Source: iStock. 


An “oversupply” could send centres broke

The Australian Childcare Alliance (ACA) warns that an “oversupply” of daycare places across Sydney and Newcastle could send some centres broke.

“We cannot be left to market- forces,’’ ACA NSW president Lyn Connolly says.

“Children and families are going to suffer, small businesses are going to go out of business and staff are going to lose their jobs.”

“Our policy is designed for more choice, more competition, and lower fees”

But NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts says he is “not interested in pursuing restriction of trade’’.

The government will instead change planning laws to allow more childcare centres in light industrial estates, in low-density residential suburbs and on school grounds.

He says NSW needs 2700 more daycare centres over the next 20 years to cater for an 18 per cent increase in children under five years.

“Our policy is designed for more choice, more competition and lower fees, which every parent wants,’’ he said.


Generic images of children playing at C and KThe NSW Government is changing laws to allow more centres to open giving parents more choice and lower fees. Source: iStock. 


Vacancies vary dramatically across the city

While there are poaching tactics to get clients out west, not all areas of Sydney claim to have available spots for youngsters.

Ms Lessio admits parents needing childcare close to Sydney’s CBD are being charged up to $100 to put their child’s name on a waiting list at birth.

But despite this, the ACA has told the planning department its policy to give parents more choice, will create too many places and insists centres must be kept at least 1km apart.

It said centres in Auburn were only 81 per cent full, Bankstown 78 per cent, Liverpool 75 per cent, Strathfield 77 per cent while Willoughby was 65 per cent.

The Community Child Care Co-operative, which represents not-for-profit centres, warns too many centres are being built in the wrong suburbs.


Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is pushing for a ban on unvaccinated kids in childcare centres.