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A study of more than 12, 000 British children between the ages of seven and nine has found that children who spend large amounts of time in daycare because both parents (or a sole parent) work, are significantly more likely to become obese, and to suffer other long term health problems.

Naturally there are howls of outrage. An article in the Australian says the results have been refuted by Queensland mums. No they haven’t. To refute something means to show it is untrue. A couple of working mothers saying ‘Well my kid’s healthy, and eats salad and stuff’ does not refute the findings of an independent study of over 12,000 children.

Previous studies have found that extensive time in daycare in the early years can have long term negative effects on vocabulary acquisition and behaviour – effects which may be cause children to struggle at school and in later life.

Time to think again about subsidised daycare.

My general rule is that if something needs to be subsidised, it probably shouldn’t be.

For example, South Australian taxpayers pay about $2 for every $1 a commuter pays for a train or bus ticket in Adelaide. I travel 100 kilometres to work and back each day, with petrol prices on the island about 30% higher than in the city. So why should I be asked to subsidise the transport costs of people who travel 10 kilometres to work and back each day, and already pay less for petrol?

Likewise, why should parents who make the decision to sacrifice income so that one of them can parent their children full-time, be asked to subsidise parents who both work? The only reason would be that doing so provided some clear benefit to the wider community. But the now well established negative effects of long term early day care make it difficult to see any such benefits.

Parents shouldn’t be stopped from sending their children to daycare, of course. But they shouldn’t expect other people to pay for it.

A Brisbane lawyer and mother of four children, Mrs Tempe Harvey, agrees. She is establishing a lobby group for children’s welfare, the Kids First Parents Association of Australia. One of their policies is the scrapping of childcare subsidies. Good news.

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