From Monday, the Federal Government will support child care providers to stay open, while also providing free child care for workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
Parents/guardians can continue to drop their children off at their regular centre, but will not have to pay a fee.
Providers will be able to receive at least 50% of their normal services’ fee revenue based on the fortnight before 2 March 2020, plus the JobKeeper payment of $1500 per fortnight per employee.
This package will help:
• The families of key workers who are needed on the frontline as we battle COVID-19.
• Families who have lost their jobs and are doing it tough (average out-of-pocket costs for parents is 40 per cent of fees).
• The many small business owners in the sector and their employees (79.9 per cent of providers operate a single centre and 95.9 per cent have fewer than five centres).
Current expert medical advice is that child care services should remain open, except where directed to close by health authorities.
Centres will prioritise care to essential workers, vulnerable and disadvantaged children and previously enrolled children.
Families who have terminated their enrolment since 17 February are encouraged to get back in contact with their centre and restart their arrangements.
Restarting enrolment will not require them to send their child to child care and it certainly won’t require them to pay a gap fee.
Restarting their enrolment will, however, hold their place for that point in time when things start to normalise and they are ready to take their child back to their centre.
CHILD CARE PROVIDERS
(click here for a detailed fact sheet)
• The Government’s primary aim is for early childhood education and care to be available to support essential workers and disadvantaged and vulnerable children and families.
Payments to be made to providers from 6 April 2020 to support services to remain open
• To ensure ongoing access to early childhood education and care, from 6 April 2020 until the end of the 2019-20 financial year, services that remain open, and have children enrolled, will receive a weekly payment.
• These payments will be made instead of the usual Child Care Subsidy (CCS) and Additional Child Care Subsidy (ACCS) payments. Services will not be able to upload session reports to the Child Care Subsidy System during this period but must continue to keep attendance records and provide statements to families while the payments remain active.
• Payments will be based on 50 per cent of services’ fee revenue or 50 per cent of the existing hourly rate cap, whichever is lower, based on the fortnight before 2 March 2020. Importantly, this measure will complement the Australian Government’s JobKeeper Payment.
• In return for receiving payments, services are required to:
– stay open unless closed on public health advice or for other health and safety reasons
– ensure families are not charged a fee, including an out of pocket or gap fee
– prioritise care to essential workers, vulnerable and disadvantaged children and previously enrolled children
– continue to record attendance of children
o comply with all other provider obligations including National Quality Framework and other relevant conditions of approval under Family Assistance Law.
• It is important that if families have recently ceased their enrolment from your service that you encourage them to re-enrol.
By families staying enrolled they will keep their CCS eligibility so the subsidies will flow again as per usual once the payments cease.
• Where children enrol at a service who otherwise would be considered ‘at risk’ for the purposes of ACCS (child wellbeing) services are required to make a referral to an appropriate support agency as per the existing ACCS (child wellbeing) referral requirements.
• Visit the Frequently Asked Questions for more information on how payments will work.
FAMILY DAY CARE
• Family Day Cares (FDC) are eligible for the new Child Care Payment. They are also able to apply for the new JobKeeper Payment.
• FDCs can also apply for a higher payment – see the fact sheet for details.