COVID-19: Keep your kids enrolled in care

Blog Image for article COVID-19: Keep your kids enrolled in care

Please note: some of the content in this article relates to changes made by Government to reflect the impact of COVID-19 and may no longer be applicable.  

Industry sources have indicated that early childhood education and care (child care) will be on the agenda for the next meeting of the National Cabinet (Prime Minister & Premiers) on Friday April 3rd, 2020. We hope that additional support for parents and providers will be announced after the meeting.

With so much information to process and an ever-changing situation many of us are struggling to work out where we stand with regard to the containment measures in effect to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

One message being sent loud and clear from the early childhood sector is ‘Keep your kids enrolled in care.’

With many parents concerned about keeping their children safe and oblique messages surrounding the status of schools and early childhood services, a large number of parents have chosen to keep their children at home. 

While early childhood services and associations support the decision by parents to keep their children home they are imploring parents to keep them enrolled in their service even if they are not attending.

This is to ensure early childhood services can remain viable in the short term and reopen once the current restrictions have been lifted.

The Australian Child Care Alliance (ACA) Queensland has launched the campaign If you want us later; Then we need you now, which aims to educate parents about the importance of keeping their children enrolled in their service.

The ACA Queensland has requested support from the Government after the dramatic withdrawal of children from their early childhood services, which has been as high as 60 per cent in some centres.

“As an urgent and initial first step, the Federal Government must allow providers to waive the gap fees (on average $100-$200 per week) that parents must pay (at no additional cost to tax payers) and continue to fund their places with the Child Care Subsidy,” 

While the Government hasn’t yet agreed to waive the gap fee payable by parents across the board it has introduced a range of measures to support parents to keep their children in care, even if their financial situation has changed or they have lost their job.

Additional support for families using early childhood services:

  • Families using child care now have 62 days of absences available to them (up from 42 days) and will continue to receive the Child Care Subsidy if their child is absent from care on these days.
  • Families will be able to use these additional days this financial year and will not have to produce a medical certificate if they require more than 62 absence days due to COVID-19.
  • Child care services which have been forced to close on public health advice related to COVID-19 do not have to charge families the gap fee.
  • Families experiencing a loss of income through job loss or self isolation may be eligible to receive the Additional Child Care Subsidy (temporary financial hardship), which is available for up to 13 weeks and, in most cases, covers the full cost of child care. Families can apply for this via the MyGov website.

The Government says that it is acting on expert medical advice in making the decision to keep early childhood services open. We will keep you updated if and when the status changes.

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