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COVID-19: Childcare UPDATES

COVID-19: Childcare News Updates

IMPORTANT: Service Closure
You will be notified by the state or territory regulatory authority if your service should be closed. If you voluntarily chose to or are advised to close your service by authorities, you must notify your state or territory regulatory authority within 24 hours.

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

NEW COVID-19 Information Session

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment has recorded a new information session for providers and services to discuss the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package.

The session covers

  • Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package payments including supplementary payments for exceptional circumstances
  • other Australian Government assistance including the JobKeeper Payment
  • answers to frequently asked questions.

Please note the session was not streamed live.

Watch it now!

Please continue to check the COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions for early childhood education and care providers webpage as we update these regularly.

Saturday, 11 April 2020

Exceptional Circumstance supplementary payment application now available

Providers may apply to the Department of Education, Skills and Employment to receive a higher rate of Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package payment in exceptional circumstances.

These include: 

  • the current number of enrolments and attendance at a service from 6 April 2020 (and onwards) are significantly and demonstratively higher than the number of enrolments and attendance at the service during the reference period; and/or
  • a service experiences a significantly higher demand for child care for vulnerable and disadvantaged children during the period 6 April 2020 to 28 June 2020.

Providers seeking a supplementary payment amount should complete the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package Payment – Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment application on the website and outline their circumstances to request a higher rate of payment.

Providers will need to provide rationale and evidence supporting their application for a higher rate.

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Scott Morrison Announces Free Childcare Amid Coronavirus Stress

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that childcare will become free for working parents currently under pressure due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Australian Government will also pay half of the operating costs for the nation’s childcare service providers in order to keep the industry afloat.

These payments will be in effect from April 6, with payments for parents being expected to last until June 28.

For more information on what these changes mean to you as a parent, or to your childcare service, read our full article or visit the Australian Government’s Child Care Package page. 

Monday, 30 March 2020

COVID-19 Wage Subsidy for Childcare

  • The Coronavirus Subsidy Scheme offers $130 billion in Coronavirus wage subsidies to provide financial relief to affected employees and businesses.
  • The government has announced a new plan to issue $1,500 fortnightly to prevent millions of people losing their jobs. For childcare providers, this money provides a promising solution to retaining staff.
  • Additionally, the new threshold of Centrelink’s Partner Income Test has been boosted from $48,000 to $79,000 per year, allowing more Australians to receive financial aid.

For more information about who is eligible, how the allowance will be distributed, and whether to claim via JobKeeper or JobSeeker, visit: https://ourxplor.com/covid-19-subsidy-scheme-for-childcare/

Wednesday 25 March 2020

01:59 pm: New COVID-19 Info from Dr Ros Baxter, Deputy Secretary (DoE)

Updates from the government re COVID-19 and CCS:

This week the Government introduced and passed legislative amendments to Family Assistance Law that will help families and early childhood education and care services manage the impact of the COVID-19 related events.The amendments allow the Minister for Education to:

  • increase the number of allowable absence days a child can access beyond 42 for an exceptional event or circumstance, such as COVID-19
  • prescribe that additional absences (when allowable absences are exhausted) can be taken in relation to COVID-19 without evidence.

Minister’s Rules to support these legislative changes have been made and they outline how these measures take effect. These rules include:

  • all families will be allocated an additional 20 days of allowable absences to use in the 2019-2020 financial year 
  • if additional absences are required for COVID-19 related reasons, medical evidence will not be required – active until 31 December 2020
  • services will not be required to recover gap fees between now and 31 December 2020 where they are instructed to close on public health direction [Note: A legislative requirement is in place that providers must not increase fees during this period.]

Monday, 23 March 2020

12:10 am: Extra Support Offered to Childcare Centres (7 News)

  • Childcare centres will be encouraged to remain open and families given greater support under a plan to go to federal parliament.
  • Education Minister Dan Tehan says the current medical advice is for the childcare sector to remain open except where individual services are directed to close by health authorities.
  • Laws to be debated in parliament on Monday will:
    • increase the number of days that a family can continue to claim the Child Care Subsidy in cases where a child is absent from child care for more than the currently allowable 42 days;
    • give families access to additional absences without the need for evidence in relation to the virus; and
    • waive the current obligation of childcare services to require a family to pay gap fees if the service is forced to close.
  • Childcare services will continue to be paid the Child Care Subsidy, which can be up to 85 per cent of the daily cost of a child’s care, if they are directed to temporarily close because of COVID-19
  • The assistance won’t apply to centres that close voluntarily.

Sunday, 22 March 2020

09:42 pm: Schools to stay open (The Guardian)

  • Morrison said the clear medical advice is that schools should remain open. He said he does not want children to miss a school year. Victoria and NSW would re-open schools after the imminent school holiday period, he said, so long as the medical advice allowed it. Schools would move toward online learning but remain open for students who needed it, he said.
  • From midday tomorrow, registered and licensed clubs, licensed premises in hotels and pubs, entertainment venues and cinemas, casinos and nightclubs will all close
  • Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway only.
  • Indoor sporting venues and places of worship will close.

Further information

  • Visit the COVID-19: Childcare Resources for latest news updates, understanding your responsibilities are to parents & children during the COVID-19 pandemic, when you should close your service, and how to get financial advice & assistance, and other key childcare-related information. 
  • Please visit the Department of Education, Skills and Employment Frequently Asked Questions for more information for providers and services and Coronavirus (COVID-19) for the latest education and training sector fact sheets.
  • The CCS Helpdesk is available to assist with information for services to help them manage the impacts on their business. Please email the CCS Helpdesk on [email protected], send in your query via an online form or call 1300 667 276 between 9.00 am — 5.00 pm (AEDST), Monday to Friday. 

Please make sure that if you are a child care provider or service you have subscribed to receive communications from the Department of Education, Skills and Employment.