The Child Care Recovery Package
The Child Care Recovery Package
In some good news for Victorian early childhood services, struggling in light of the current lockdown, the government has announced additional support measures.
The government says these measures will provide financial relief to families while ensuring the early childhood sector remains open to support economic recovery after COVID-19.
The Child Care Recovery Package offers:
- A Recovery Payment of 25 per cent of pre-COVID revenue to child care services in Victoria, until 31 January 2021. The Recovery Payment will start for Centre Based Day Care, Family Day Care and In Home Care on 28 September in Victoria. The 40 per cent Recovery Payment for Outside School Hours Care will also start in Victoria when in-school teaching returns (anticipated to be mid to late October).
- An extra payment of 15 per cent of pre-COVID revenue for Victorian Outside School Hours Care services, increasing their total support payments to 40 per cent of revenue.
- A child care fee freeze for Victorian families until 31 January.
- Continuing the Employment Guarantee to ensure that Victorian providers receiving the recovery payment pass support payments on to educators and employees through wages and payments.
- Relaxation of the activity test for all Australian families whose activity level has been impacted by COVID-19 will be extended to 4 April 2021.
What does this mean for Victorian services?
The government says Victorian services are behind the recovery of the rest of the sector and that support measures will continue beyond 27 September 2020, based on service type and location.
The return to normal schooling is scheduled from 12 October in regional Victoria and from 19 October in Melbourne. If this changes, the government says it will supply updated advice and an extension of existing levels of support.
For Centre Based Day Care, Family Day Care and In Home Care
A new 25 per cent Recovery Payment will run from 28 September 2020 until 31 January 2021.
This is based on average weekly fees charged by the service (up to the fee cap) in the Transition Payment reference period. For most services this is the fortnight starting 17 February 2020.
For Outside School Hours Care in Melbourne
Existing support payments will remain until school returns to normal from mid-October. This includes the 30 per cent Transition Payment, Additional Viability Support Payment, Special Transition Payment and the Low Charged Hours payment.
Following the return to normal schooling, OSHC services will receive the new 25 per cent Recovery Payment and a 15 per cent additional payment until the end of the school year.
Vacation care only providers will also be eligible for these payments for any weeks they are operational until 31 January 2021.
For Outside School Hours Care in regional Victoria
Existing payments will remain until school returns to normal, which is expected to be from 12 October. This includes the 25 per cent Transition Payment, Additional Viability Support Payment and Low Charged Hours Payment.
Following the return to normal schooling, OSHC services in regional Victoria will receive the new 25 per cent Recovery Payment and 15 per cent additional payment until the end of the school year.
Vacation care only providers will also be eligible for these payments for the weeks they are eligible until 31 January 2021.
Conditions for payments
The Employment Guarantee ensures providers pass support payments on to educators and employees through wages and payments. To receive this support, providers must pay their educators and staff and cannot stand down permanent staff without pay. Providers must also continue to freeze fees while receiving these payments.
All Victorian children have an extra 30 days of allowable absences, in addition to the existing 42 days for the 2020–21 financial year, making for a total of 72 days.
The additional absences have been applied to families’ accounts. Services can access them as they usually would when submitting session reports.
What about services in the rest of Australia?
Transition Payments will end for all services outside Victoria as scheduled on 27 September 2020. The Employment Guarantee and fee freeze conditions will also end for all services outside Victoria on 27 September 2020.
The relaxed activity test for families whose activity level has been impacted by COVID-19 will be extended to 4 April 2021.
Services at risk of imminent closure, temporary or permanent, can apply for support through the Community Child Care Fund Special Circumstances program.
In the case of additional outbreaks elsewhere in Australia, financial support will be extended to the sector as needed.
Paul Mondo from the Australian Childcare Alliance said that while Victorian families can return to early learning services from 28 September, the current employment and economic conditions may have negatively impacted attendance numbers, and that is why the support package is required.
“The Recovery Payment, coupled with the extension of the Activity test exemption, ensures financial viability for Victorian service providers during a period of economic uncertainty. It allows all Australian families up to 100 hours of subsidised care each fortnight, regardless of any recent changes to their income or work activities in the COVID-10 climate,” he said.
This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Wednesday, 21 October 2020
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