FREE Child Care to Help Families During Coronavirus Pandemic | 2 Apr 2020

Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Free child care for families and support for early childhood & care sector during the coronavirus pandemic.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has just announced a government decision to provide around one million families with free child care during the coronavirus pandemic and financial relief and support to the early childhood education and care sector to assist workers and businesses in this industry.

The new system which will benefit 13,000 childcare centres across Australia will come into effect from Sunday night. 

“If you have a job in this economy, then that is an essential job, in my view, in terms of (the) running of the economy and it is important that all of those parents who have children, that they get access to the childcare and those facilities will be there for them in the many months ahead,” he said.

“What we will be doing is we will be ensuring for those parents who are still in that position where they are needing that childcare, it will be free.

Details of the plan have been announced by the Australian Government,

Under the plan, the Government will pay 50 per cent of the sector’s fee revenue up to the existing hourly rate cap based on a point in time before parents started withdrawing their children in large numbers, but only so long as services remain open and do not charge families for care. The funding will apply from 6 April based on the number of children who were in care during the fortnight leading into 2 March, whether or not they are attending services.

The plan aims to support families while ensuring as many child care and early learning services can provide services for as long as possible during the pandemic.

Here’s a summary of the basic points.

♦ The early childhood education and care sector is expected to receive $1.6 billion over the coming three months from taxpayer subsidies.

♦ Children stay at their current childcare centre so there is familiarity.

♦ The new system will see payments start flowing at the end of next week.

♦ The system will be reviewed after one month, with an extension to be considered after three months.

♦ Payments will be paid in lieu of the Child Care (CCS) and Additional Child Care Subsidy payments.

♦ Payments will be made directly to the child care centres (not to parents). This is effective from Sunday night 5 April 2020.

♦  The free child care services will be available to all parents working in essential jobs who need care for their child. The PM has reiterated that anyone who has a job is doing an essential job.

The Prime Minister said,

Relief is on its way for around a million Australian families and thousands of early learning educators and carers..

These services are vital for so many parents so they can provide for their family, and children need as much familiarity and continuity as we can help provide at this unsettling time. Priority will be given to working parents, vulnerable and disadvantaged children that need early education more than ever and parents with pre-existing enrolments.

This plan complements more than $1 billion we expect the sector to receive through our new JobKeeper payment to help ensure many of the 200,000 vital early education workforce can stay connected to services.

It means building a bridge for these valuable services to the other side of this virus so they can continue to play their valuable role in our workforce and education systems and so Australia can bounce back strongly.

Minister for Education Dan Tehan said,

The assistance package would ensure services remained open to serve families that needed to work and to support vulnerable children.

The Federal Government is working with states and territories and the sector to minimise the impact of coronavirus,

The states and territories are looking at how to reduce the regulatory burden on the child care services which will further help them to remain viable. The Education Council of the country’s education ministers as well as National Cabinet will address regulation this week.

This package will help support families during these difficult times, particularly those who have lost their job and are doing it tough.

Until the payments arrive, we are allowing services to waive gap fees for families who keep their children home, and families will be able to use the 20 extra absence days the government has funded for coronavirus related reasons without giving up their place in a child care centre.

If you have terminated your enrolment since 17 February, then I encourage you to get back in contact with your centre and re-start your arrangements. Re-starting your enrolment will not require you to send your child to child care and it certainly won’t require you to pay a gap fee. Re-starting your enrolment will, however, hold your place for that point in time when things start to normalise, and you are ready to take your child back to their centre.

We will also make payments of higher amounts available in exceptional circumstances, such as where greater funding is required to meet the needs of emergency workers or vulnerable children.

The Government is also providing certainty to the preschool sector in recognition of its importance to a student’s formal education.

Watch the press conference below.

Child care services seeking health and situation information about COVID-19 should contact the 24/7 National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080.

Information is also available online via this link. 

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At Play & Go Adelaide we make every effort to provide accurate information to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. We recommend confirming times, dates and details directly before making any plans as details may be subject to change. 

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