Returning to work: The bigger picture
Rising childcare costs have continued to make headlines in recent times. For families choosing to stay home with their children, it is certainly a rewarding choice; but staying home based solely on the financial costs of childcare can be a shortsighted view with long-term ramifications.
“It is important to understand that childcare fees are a short term expense for families. Sometimes a parent might have a child in long day-care for five years. If they have a few children, then it might extend to seven years or so. We encourage families to look closely, analyse and add up the lost opportunity in career progression and growth, promotional opportunities, networking, superannuation accrual, and all of the benefits gained from interacting in the workforce if they choose not to continue with their career. Look closely at the trade off if choosing not to return to work based on the cost of childcare alone,” explains Mr Stevenson.
He adds that although guilt can play a significant role in the decision, all parents and guardians should be able to freely choose if they wish to return to work, and it shouldn’t be influenced by guilt.
“Working parents require a service that provides not just flexibility but meaningful activities that provide engagement and enrichment for their children. That removes the burden of guilt,” Mr Stevenson says. “When delivering educational care, where children are doing meaningful, worthwhile activities, parents will have happy children, and all parents want happy children. And for a working parent, if they are progressing in their career that often means they are a happy parent, raising more income for the family and creating more opportunity.”
Mr Stevenson launched Extend in 2002 with the intention of creating an out of school hours program designed to enrich and engage the children in its care. As a former school teacher and father to two children, he understands firsthand the educational needs of children and the challenges of being a working parent.
Extend has since grown into a national organisation that provides services for thousands of children in Independent, Catholic and Government schools across Australia.
“The services delivered by Extend are a little different because all educators are interviewed, inducted and appointed in-house so we always know who is educating and caring for the children. This means staff stay with us longer, are more passionate and engaged, and contribute more,” says Mr Stevenson. “Children love to attend and know who the educators are, which gives parents reassurance. It’s this reassurance that allows every member of the family, including mum and dad, to embrace so many more opportunities that will benefit the whole family in the long term as well as today.”