Friday, 3 April 2020

Supporting families in Hinkler using child care

Free child care for essential workers through the coronavirus pandemic will not only help families, but keep the early childhood education and care sector open for business.

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt said the new payment – which is due to start next week – will mean centres can remain open and families who need it, can access care. 

“Child care is so important right now as our nation confronts the twin challenge of the coronavirus and its economic impact. Our focus is on saving lives and saving livelihoods,” Mr Pitt said.

“The child care services in Hinkler are a valuable part of our community, where our children come together to learn and play, while parents are working.

“The child care sector has seen a significant decrease in attendance yet there are many families who still require care to continue working.

“Child care services in Hinkler can access the payment to ensure the viability of their business, keep people in jobs and give families much-needed fee relief.

“The current expert medical advice is that the child care sector should remain open except where individual services have been directed to close by health authorities.”

Under the plan, the Federal Government will pay services that remain open and do not charge families for care. Services will receive payments based on 50 per cent of their average fees, up to a maximum of the hourly rate cap, based on enrolments in the fortnight before 2 March.

Mr Pitt said the payment, combined with the $130 billion JobKeeper payment to keep employees in their jobs, would help ensure child care services in Hinkler kept their doors open and workers employed.

For a centre to receive the payment they must remain open, ensure families are not charged a fee, continue and prioritise care to essential workers, vulnerable and disadvantaged children and previously enrolled children.

Prior to the commencement of payments under the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package, services will now be able to waive out-of-pocket fees for families where a service remains open, but children are not attending for COVID-19 reasons.

This change is effective from 23 March 2020 and extends the rule which allows services to waive out-of-pocket fees where a service is directed to close on public health advice. Waiving the out-of-pocket fee will mean services do not have to charge families for child care services they are not using.

The new system is expected to begin on 6 April, with payments to start flowing at the end of the week. The system will be reviewed after one month, with an extension to be considered after three months. The payments will be paid in lieu of the Child Care Subsidy and Additional Child Care Subsidy payments.

Child care services seeking health and situation information about COVID-19 should contact the 24/7 National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080. Information is also available from https://www.dese.gov.au/news/coronavirus-covid-19.

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