COVID-19: Childcare Centre Support
UPDATE (Weds 25):
(1) all families will be allocated an additional 20 days of allowable absences to use in the 2019-2020 financial year
(2) if additional absences are required for COVID-19 related reasons, medical evidence will not be required – active until 31 December 2020
(3) 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.]
Source- Department of Education
Financial Advice & Assistance
1. Is CCS payable if fees are charged for families but they are asked not to attend due to staff shortages associated with COVID-19?
If your state government has ordered your centre to close or you choose to close pre-emptively, due to COVID-19, The Department of Eduction encourages providers to charge no fees. If care is not being offered, then families should not be charged fees and CCS would not be payable.
In this circumstance, please see the below information regarding Community Child Care Fund (CCCF) Special Circumstance Grant Opportunity.
Can exceptional circumstances be granted to allow fee relief where a child has to self-isolate but was due to start care in the isolation period?
No. However, it is recommended that the family discuss changing the start date with the service to after the isolation period has finished.
What if a family chooses to self isolate or not attend due to COVID-19?
The Department of Eduction encourages providers to charge no fees. The requirement for families to pay the co-contribution has not changed. Ultimately it is up to the service to make this decision, factoring in things like business costs and wages.
What other Australian Government support is available for business owners?
The Australian Government has announced support for Australian businesses in response to COVID-19. These measures complement existing programs, such as Community Child Care Fund (CCCF) Special Circumstance Grant Opportunity, and you may be eligible to apply for assistance under multiple programs.
For more information visit business.gov.au or call 13 28 46 to access information on financial assistance, eligibility and timing of this assistance. Information on other Australian Government grants and programs that you may be eligible for is also available.
My Business Health provides access to tools, templates and tips to manage mental health and business health to help small businesses find the services they need to face challenges and identify opportunities to grow their business.
What happens if a provider stops a well child (who is not considered to be a risk for COVID-19 per Government advice) from attending?
If a provider excludes a well child from attending a service, the provider should not charge fees for this period as no care is available to the family.
For example, where a provider has excluded a child when they have not travelled overseas or have not come into contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
What are the responsibilities of providers when a service closes?
Where a service closes due to COVID-19, it’s important to understand what your obligations are under Family Assistance Law.
Given that services are unable to provide sessions of care in these circumstances, attendance reports cannot be submitted into the Child Care Subsidy System.
Additionally, as child care cannot be offered, families should not be charged fees. When a child is usually absent from care and CCS is paid an absence day is counted. As there is no entitlement to CCS in this situation, an absence day will not be counted.
In this circumstance where your service is closed due to COVID-19, please see the below information regarding Community Child Care Fund (CCCF) Special Circumstance Grant Opportunity.
2. Where Can Families Apply For Financial Assistance?
Information on eligibility and how to apply for CCS/ACCS is available at www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/child-care-subsidy.
Additional advice and information about COVID-19 is available at www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/subjects/affected-coronavirus-covid-19.
Be sure to keep staff, families and any other affected parties informed about the potential closure of your child care service and the financial assistance they may need.
3. What Kind Of Financial Assistance Can Families Apply For?
Child Care Subsidy (CCS) is available to help cover the cost of child care based on a family’s circumstances and the necessity to attend work. This subsidy can only be paid when child care services are still open and running, except in the case of public holidays and when local emergency has been declared.
If disadvantaged families are significantly impacted by COVID-19 and can’t cover child care fees at all, additional Child Care Subsidy (ACCS) will provide up to 120% of the CCS hourly rate cap and often cover the full cost of care. Families will receive support for up to 13 weeks once approved, with up to 100 hours subsidy per fortnight.
Child Care Centers
1. Financial Advice & Assistance To Provide Families
If you operate or work at a child care centre, you’re likely dealing with the uncertainty of temporary closure.
While centres are not currently on full order to close down, there’s plenty of important information you should pass on to families to help them continue to find child care services in the wake of COVID-19.
2. Where Can My Child Care Centre Apply For Financial Assistance?
Information on eligibility and how to apply for the CCCF grant is available at www.education.gov.au/cccfspecialcircs.
Further support and information for businesses is available at https://business.gov.au, with additional advice and updates about COVID-19 available at www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/subjects/affected-coronavirus-covid-19.
If you feel your business may be negatively impacted by COVID-19, use this information to take action early and avoid any unnecessary financial loss.
The Australian Government has announced an economic response totalling $17.6 billion across the forward estimates to protect the economy by maintaining confidence, supporting investment and keeping people in jobs. Additional household income and business support will flow through to strengthen the wider economy.
Availability of Child Care Services
1. Where Can Families Find Child Care Services?
You can point them to Xplor Space, a constantly updated registry of vacancy details, fees and operating times for child care services Australia-wide.
2. How Do Absences Work When Child Care Services Are Still Open?
Whether the child is ill or not, families under CCS/ACCS can be covered for up to 42 absences without any documentation or medical notes. After 42 absences, further days will only be covered if supported by Family Assistance Law as detailed in the Child Care Provider Handbook
Medical certificates can be used to cover longer absences as per your agreed care arrangement with the family.
3. What If My Child Care Centre Needs To Close Before Being Ordered To?
You must notify state authorities within 24 hours if you choose to close your child care centre pre-emptively, and you must immediately notify authorities if your centre, staff or attendees come into contact with COVID-19. Contact info for these departments is available at www.health.gov.au/about-us/contact-us/local-state-and-territory-health-departments.
You must also update your details on Child Care Finder to keep families informed of your closure.
4. What Are My Responsibilities After Closure?
Attendance reports and absences can no longer be submitted under the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) system and you should determine i you are going to charge families fees once you’re officially ordered to close.
Your workplace responsibilities and obligations to your staff are outlined by the Fair Work Ombudsman at www.fairwork.gov.au/about-us/news-and-media-releases/website-news/coronavirus-and-australian-workplace-laws.
Child Care Centres
1. Responsibilities & Support For COVID-19 Closures
The first thing to be aware of if you’re operating or working at a child care centre is that a declared state of emergency does not mean you’re automatically required to close.
The Department of Health doesn’t make that call, but your state and territory health departments and regulatory authorities do. The following information should help guide you through an early or forced closure in the coming weeks.
- 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.