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Childcare nightmare defeats single mother
Michelle Doust and her two boys. Picture: Simon Santi, The West Australian

For single mother Michelle Doust, childcare options in Perth are inflexible, expensive and have long waiting lists.

So the 29-year-old nurse now relies on her father to travel from Mandurah to her home in Balcatta to care for her two boys while she works part-time, following a series of frustrations with child care.

After being turned away by more than six centres, she was relieved to finally find a place for Tyler, now 3 1/2 - at a cost of $99 a day.

When she went to put Jett, now 20 months, into the same centre, she was forced to wait several months before a spot became available.

But she soon found she could not afford the cost of about $450 a week after the Federal Government rebate.

"It's not even worth me working full-time, once you take in rent and the cost of child care," she said.

"I tried to get into the cheaper centres but they were booked out for years."

She said given the nature of her profession, she would welcome greater flexibility of childcare opening hours and supported calls for the childcare rebate to be expanded to include nannies, who are in high demand as frustrated parents look for alternatives to daycare centres.

Perth Nanny Care director Leila Redmond said her workload had doubled in the past 12 months.

"I can't keep up with the demand for nannies," she said.

"Most of it is from parents who can't get into childcare centres and the waiting list is too long."

She said the growth of fly-in, fly-out and shift work meant childcare centres were too inflexible for many parents.

Perth Nanny Care places three or four nannies a week.

"If you have two children, and most people are paying about $80 per child, it works out about the same to get a nanny," Ms Redmond said.

Kate Spencer, from Dial-an-Angel, said the childcare shortage was preventing a lot of parents from returning to the workforce.

"We are hearing from people who are having trouble getting into childcare centres and this is very limiting for women trying to get back into the workplace," she said.

A lot of inquiries came from fly-in, fly-out families, she said.

"We are getting so many unique requests. For example, some people want a live-in nanny for two weeks on, one week off. A lot of these requests are hard to fill, particularly due to the cost."

She also believed the childcare rebate should include at-home care but said it would need to be policed carefully.