History of Community Child Care Co-operative (NSW)
Growing out of the feminist and women's trade union movements of the 1970s, Community Child Care Co-operative (NSW) has advocated for women, children and education and care services for more than three decades.
When the Co-operative first opened its doors in 1978, the women's movement was in full swing. Society's approach to childcare provision was rapidly changing as women returned to the workforce. Most services were run privately and received no government subsidy, including services run by the Kindergarten Union (KU) and Sydney Day Nursery (SDN), both established in 1900.
Community Child Care was a break-away group, growing out of the Community Child Care Victoria (originally an action group called Community Controlled Child Care). It was formed by a group of dedicated feminists who set up an office in Sydney.
They were united by a common concern - more education and care services were needed for working women - and were able to secure funding to operate from the NSW Government's Family and Children's Services Agency (FACSA).
Community Child Care was behind several awareness and advocacy campaigns done under the name of Child Care Action Group - set up separately to avoid jeopardising Community Child Care's funding. During this time, it also wrote countless submissions to help secure funds for new and existing education and care services.
It seemed all the hard work was paying off, when the government announced the first means-tested fee relief system in 1981. But change was afoot and in 1984, FACSA - which had funded Community Child Care since 1978 - announced it would cease full funding.
An uncertain future...
In 1985 a new approach was taken to generate income for the organisation by selling a range of publications. Other initiatives included workshops and training courses. From that, the Federal Government agreed to start funding the organisation again.
It was during this time that Rattler and Broadside were launched. Rattler's first editorial in 1987 read: 'Rattler will continue our policy of making a lot of noise about issues that count in education and care services, and shaking a few people up... It rhymes with "battler" for all you hard-working education and care workers, and also "tattler" because we do tell a few tales...'
The next hurdle was the fight against fee relief being extended to private services. This was met with strong opposition but Prime Minister Bob Hawke assured the sector that fee relief would be accompanied by an accreditation system. In 1994, the Quality Improvement and Accreditation System was introduced - but not without controversy.
More change was to come to Community Child Care throughout the Howard years (1996-2007) as the organisation set about reinventing itself. A huge blow came for the community sector with the removal of the operational subsidy - withdrawn from the not-for-profits on the grounds of 'competitive fairness'.
Then in 1997, the education and care services budget was slashed by $350 million. The whole education and care environment was changing. The start of the new decade saw Community Child Care continue to face funding issues.
The biggest milestone in recent years was the Alliance of Children's Services winning the tender to become the Professional Support Co-ordinator for Children's Services in NSW, with Community Child Care as a lead agency.
To be continued...
While Community Child Care's focus has shifted from the feminism philosophies of the 1970s - from the rights of the mother to the rights of the child, and education and care - many key priorities remain the same.
Community Child Care Co-operative (NSW) will continue to advocate values such as quality care, social justice, equity and access will continue well into the future.