The recently announced childcare payment under the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package is a payment to support Child Care Services to stay open ensuring continued services to those parents that need it.
Due to the impact of COVID-19, the childcare sector has had significantly reduced attendance and enrolments. The childcare relief package announced by the government is a payment to support Child Care services to stay operational and make sure that families that need it can continue to access services.
Weekly payments will be made to eligible childcare centres of approximately 50% of services fee revenue or 50% of the existing hourly rate cap – whichever is lower. These payments are made in lieu of the any Child Care Subsidy and Additional Child Care Subsidy.
Childcare centres are also able to access other Government or State initiates to support business, such as the JobKeeper payments.
Free child care will end on 12 July and the JobKeeper will stop with the re-introduction of Child Care Subsidy.
The government will also introduce a support package that will require employment levels to be guaranteed to protect those staff that were on JobKeeper.
Eligibility Criteria for Childcare Centres
To be able to receive these payments, centres need to:
- Stay open with at least one enrolment unless closed on public health advice
- Ensure families are not charged
- Continue and prioritise care to essential workers, vulnerable and disadvantaged children as well as previously enrolled children
- Record attendance
- Complete with other provider obligations
Application for this relief package is not necessary and payments will be made automatically.
Childcare Relief Package timings
The child care relief program will start making payments the week beginning 6 April until week ending 28 June 2020.
This will also cover the fortnight prior to 2 March 2020.
This relief package will end 12 July and a transitional support package will be introduced.
Links to Government Resources
The new payment under the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package is a payment to support Child Care Services to remain open. Due to the impact of COVID-19, the sector has reported significant decreases in attendance and enrolments. These payments will ensure services can remain open, and families who need it can access care.
Weekly payments will be approximately 50 per cent of services’ fee revenue or 50 per cent of the existing hourly rate cap, whichever is lower, for sessions of care in the fortnight preceding 2 March 2020 (i.e. Monday 17 February 2020 through to 28 February 2020).
The payments for services providing vacation care only will be calculated on the equivalent of the average weekly amount for the vacation period between term 3 and term 4 in 2019 (September-October School Holidays).
The payments are made in lieu of any Child Care Subsidy and Additional Child Care Subsidy.
Receiving these payments does not preclude your service from accessing other Government initiatives to support businesses.
In order to receive the payment you must:
- Stay open, with at least one active enrolment, 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
- Continue and prioritise care to essential workers, vulnerable and disadvantaged children and previously enrolled children
- Continue to record the attendance of children
- Comply with all other provider obligations including National Quality Framework and other relevant conditions of approval under Family Assistance Law.
You do not need to apply. Payments will be made automatically on a weekly basis.
From the week beginning 6 April 2020 until the week ending 28 June 2020.
The payment will be paid into your child care service bank account. This is the same bank account that Child Care Subsidy is currently paid into.
The department has spoken to all third-party software vendors to accommodate these payments. Your third party software often offers additional functionality to assist you with the day-to-day operations of your child care service. If you have specific questions about this functionality or the general usability of your software, the Department recommends that you contact your third party software provider directly.
Yes, you must still record the attendance information, such as in and out times, for children that attend your service. This can either be stored electronically or by other means. You must also give families statements of sessions of care provided.
The department will consider payments at a higher rate on a case by case basis. You must first take into consideration other government measures to assist you. Your service would then need to demonstrate it requires a higher percentage to stay open, for example, if greater funding is required due to an increase in enrolments to address the needs of essential workers or vulnerable children.
More information on how to apply for a higher percentage will be made available shortly.
Ordinarily, providers are required to recover the out-of-pocket fees from families, even if the child was absent from care. Due to the impact of COVID-19, the sector has reported significant decreases in attendance and enrolments. To support families and the sector, you will now be able to waive out of pocket fees for families where service remains open, but children are not attending for COVID-19 reasons. This change is in effect from 23 March 2020 to 5 April 2020.
This will allow you the discretion to waive out-of-pocket fees, encouraging families to stay enrolled in child care.
The government announced on 8 June that the JobKeeper payments for child care workers will cease in July 2020.