The Morrison Government has stepped up to provide childcare relief for thousands of Victorian families while ensuring services can remain viable and staff are retained during the Stage four lockdown.
From today, the Victorian Government’s restrictions mean children, except for vulnerable children and those of permitted workers, in metropolitan Melbourne will no longer be able to attend childcare for six weeks.
To ease the burden, the Morrison Government will invest $33 million so childcare services remain open for vulnerable families and permitted workers, while helping Victorian parents keep their child’s enrolment while they must keep their child at home.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Government had listened and responded with support to help Victorians get through their second, more difficult, lockdown.
“We are providing a triple guarantee for childcare in Victoria, supporting thousands of Victorian parents and hundreds of jobs,” the Prime Minister said.
“That guarantee means that parents will not lose their child’s place as long as they stay enrolled at the centre while their child is at home. Parents will not be required to pay a gap fee when their children are not attending and we will continue to pay their subsidies to childcare facilities.
“We will also make direct payments to childcare centres so they stay operational and staff are kept with an employment guarantee, while remaining open for workers and vulnerable families.
“Many people will be worried and stressed in Melbourne right now and our support hopefully eases the burden for parents already juggling working from home, looking after other children or concerns about their job.
“Our Government stepped up to support all Australian families and childcare workers at the start of this pandemic and we’re stepping up again to support Victorians during this very challenging time.”
Melbourne families in Stage Four lockdown will receive an additional 30 days, or six weeks, of allowable absences from childcare.
In conjunction with the gap fee waiver, families should not be charged fees for keeping their children at home so will not have to withdraw from the system.
By increasing the number of allowable absence days, the Government can continue to pay its contribution to services through the Child Care Subsidy (CCS), which can be up to 85 per cent of the total cost of care. This will guarantee revenue to childcare services through the Government’s CCS contribution, even if children are not attending care.
To further assist services to keep workers employed, the Government will provide $16.3 million to fund a higher Transition Payment of 30 per cent of pre-COVID revenue for Melbourne childcare services.
The Government will provide a further $16 million to fund an additional top-up payment for eligible services that receive low CCS payments and are experiencing very low attendance.
For regional Victoria, that is now under Stage Three lockdown, the Government will provide an additional 30 absence days and extend the gap fee waiver and the Outside Hours School Care (OSHC) payment.
The gap fee waiver for non-metropolitan Victorians will ensure that if a child is absent from care for COVID-related reasons, the childcare service can waive their gap fee. Which means fee relief for families and certainty they do not have to withdraw from care and lose their place.
OSHC services, in regional Victoria, will be paid 15 per cent of their revenue from 6 August, in addition to the 25 per cent Transition Payment and the Child Care Subsidy.
Minister for Education Dan Tehan said the Morrison Government had worked closely with the sector and the Victorian Government to understand the impact of the extended lockdown measures on families, workers and services.
“We all owe a debt of gratitude to our early learning and childcare workers who have done such important work this year as our country has dealt with the coronavirus – every parent values your commitment to their children and their early education,” Mr Tehan.
“Across Australia we saw 99 per cent of services remain open and viable during COVID-19 as a result of the temporary, emergency measures our Government put in place.
“We are now focusing on supporting Victorian families, workers and childcare services to help them get through their Stage Four lockdown. Our temporary package will ensure families receive continuity of care and services remain viable.”
Our Government has already announced measures to support Victorian families and child care providers, including:
- Child care providers who signed up are receiving an additional Transition Payment of 25 per cent of their fee revenue during the relief package reference period (17 February to 1 March) from 13 July until 27 September, which is estimated to deliver $708 million to providers.
- Families experiencing financial hardship, for example through a loss of income, may be eligible for additional support through the Additional Child Care Subsidy (temporary financial hardship).
- Up to 31 December, child care services that are open in areas subject to stage 3 or higher ‘stay at home’ restrictions can waive families’ out of pocket fees for families where a child is not attending due to COVID-19.
- Up to 31 December, child care services are able to waive families’ out of pocket fees if the service is forced to close on public health advice due to COVID-19.
- We are providing about $6 million to support Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) services to continue providing care for the children of essential workers and vulnerable children.
- The activity test to access the Child Care Subsidy has been eased until 4 October to support eligible families whose employment has been impacted as a result of COVID-19. Families will receive up to 100 hours per fortnight of subsidised care during this period. This will assist families to return to the level of work, study or training they were undertaking before COVID-19.
- Under transition arrangements already in place, service fees remain frozen at pre-COVID levels.
The support package announced today is in addition to the $511 million already provided to Victoria through the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package.