Labor says it can afford its $10 billion childcare worker pay rise while also balancing the federal budget better than the coalition.

It is understood the pay top-up will be limited to qualified staff in commonwealth-funded centres, and exclude those in local and state government-backed facilities.

Labor leader Bill Shorten told reporters in Cairns on Friday, ahead of the release of the party’s costings, it was important to deliver a pay rise to the “first people to whom we entrust the kids outside of the family unit”.

“We’ve come up with an envelope of funding to improve wages,” Mr Shorten said.

He said a Labor government would work with the sector, as well as parents.

“It doesn’t cost parents because we will have price controls and make sure the money allocated goes to wages,” he said.

The Labor costings document says the pay increase will be 20 per cent over eight years, raising wages by an estimated $11,300.

The total figure over 10 years to 2029/30 will be $9.967 billion.