The Australian Government has announced a new Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package, aimed at supporting services to remain open to ensure quality early childhood education
and care continues to be available to essential workers and disadvantaged and vulnerable children and families.
From Monday 6 April 2020 weekly payments will be made directly to early childhood education and care services in lieu of the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) and the Additional Child Care Subsidy. Early childhood education and child care services do not need to apply for the payments, they will be paid automatically. Families will not be charged fees during this time.
Payments will be based on 50 per cent of services’ fee revenue or 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
- comply with all other provider obligations including National Quality Framework and other
- relevant conditions of approval under Family Assistance Law.
It is important for services to encourage families that have recently taken their children out of care to re-enrol. By families staying enrolled they will keep their CCS eligibility so the subsidies will flow again as per usual once the new weekly payments cease.
In addition, up to and including 5 April 2020, services can now waive gap fees for families due to the impact of COVID-19, where children are absent from care. This can go back as far as 23 March 2020 and is in addition to changes already announced that allow services to waive gap fees for families where they has been directed to close on public health advice.
Early childhood education and care services seeking health and situation information about COVID19 should contact the 24/7 National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080. Further information is also available from the Department of Education, Skills and Employment website.