A NSW government rule change could spell the end for some after-school care minibus services, Hunter Labor MPs Kate Washington and Jodie Harrison say.
The pair met with care operators on Friday to discuss the impact of regulatory changes made at the start of the month, which included a rule that excludes the driver of an after-school care minibus from being counted in the staff to student ratio.
The new ratio of one staff member to every 15 students is said to be well supported in the industry but the state government included a rule that the minibus driver could no longer be counted.
The two MPs say the cost of a second staff member on the bus will be passed onto parents or prove too much for after school operators.
Some are understood to be considering ending their collection service, likely leaving working parents with reduced options for care.
“This last minute change to regulation will mean parents pay more or miss out on before and after school care,” Ms Washington said.
“Service operators were only given on a few weeks’ notice about this change.
“When school goes back next week some operators will be cancelling the school collections, while others will be forced to pass the extra costs onto parents.”
Ms Washington said she had written to the Education Minister calling for the rule to be halted while further consultation occurred, but had received no response.
She said the rule is at odds with private bus companies who can have one driver supervising over 70 students on a school bus route.
“It makes no sense that a school bus driver can look after 70-plus kids, with no seat belts, while a before and after school care staff member isn’t trusted with 15 kids, with seatbelts, in a minibus,” Ms Washington said.