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In Home Care evaluation report 2.45 MB

The revised In Home Care (IHC) program was introduced on 2 July 2018, as part of the Child Care Package. This is the final evaluation report for the IHC program, drawing on data collected about IHC up to February 2020.

This revised IHC program replaced the previous IHC program and the Nanny Pilot Programme, with the program's objective being to support families' workforce participation and early childhood education and care requirements where other approved child care services are not available or appropriate. The program is directed at families in geographically isolated areas, working non-standard or variable hours, and those with complex or challenging needs.

The design of the revised IHC program was informed by reviews of previous programs and by feedback from stakeholders, services and families. A significant change with the revised program was the introduction of a new brokerage model, in which five IHC Support Agencies help families find the IHC or other services they need in their jurisdiction(s) (three IHC Support Agencies work across two jurisdictions). One aim of having these IHC Support Agencies is to increase national consistency in the delivery of IHC. Other changes introduced with the revised program included redefined eligibility criteria, a renewed focus on early childhood education and care, minimum qualification requirements for educators, and changes to the allocation of places. The revised IHC program was part of the Child Care Package, which brought in the Child Care Subsidy with its income and activity testing, the introduction of hourly caps and family co-contributions to child care. There is a family hourly rate cap for IHC.

Overall, the revised IHC program is operating as intended by supporting the three cohorts of families to access ECEC when other forms are ECEC are not appropriate or available. IHC meets an important need, and the families who receive IHC are clear that it is key to their families' and children's wellbeing. But there is a very significant challenge to it being a completely successful program given that IHC cannot be supplied to all who are eligible for it. In particular, there is a bottle neck due to the lack of qualified educators who are available to provide IHC. The supply of educators for IHC needs very significant attention for the program to be delivered effectively. Inability to deliver IHC to families who need it has implications for service viability also, given this impact on the stream of potential income to the service. The authors note that the financial viability of the IHC service sector continues to be an issue, contributing to vulnerabilities for the IHC program. The introduction of IHC Support Agencies is discussed below, but overall, the findings suggest that these agencies are focusing on supporting families' access to IHC and to other services as needed. It is perhaps too soon to say if the introduction of IHC Support Agencies has made a significant difference to the delivery of a nationally consistent program.

Editor's note

This report was submitted to the Australian Department of Education, Skills and Employment in October 2020, and was then publicly released in December 2022.

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