Free childcare during coronavirus: PM announcement

Free childcare during coronavirus
The government has announced free childcare during coronavirus in Australia

Free childcare during coronavirus for working parents has been announced by the Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Around one million families are set to receive free child care during the coronavirus pandemic under a plan from the Morrison Government aimed at helping the early childhood education and care sector.

Free childcare during coronavirus: The information released today

Under the plan for free childcare during coronavirus, the Government will:

  • Pay 50 per cent of the sector’s fee revenue up to the existing hourly rate cap (based on before parents started withdrawing children in large numbers)
  • But only so long as services remain open and do not charge families for care

The funding will apply from 6 April based on the number of children who were in care during the fortnight leading into 2 March, whether or not they are attending services.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the plan supports families while also ensuring as many of the sector’s 13,000 child care and early learning services as possible could keep their doors open for workers and vulnerable families who need those services.

“Relief is on its way for around a million Australian families and thousands of early learning educators and carers,” the Prime Minister said.

The new system will see payments start flowing at the end of next 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 (CCS) and Additional Child Care Subsidy payments.

Minister for Education Dan Tehan said the assistance package would ensure services remained open to serve families that needed to work and to support vulnerable children.

“The Federal Government is working with states and territories and the sector to minimise the impact of coronavirus,” Mr Tehan said.

Until the payments arrive:

  • Services are able to waive gap fees for families who keep their children home
  • Families will be able to use the 20 extra absence days the government has funded for coronavirus related reasons without giving up their place in a child care centre

“If you have terminated your enrolment since 17 February, then I encourage you to get back in contact with your centre and re-start your arrangements,” Mr Tehan said.

“Re-starting your enrolment will not require you to send your child to child care and it certainly won’t require you to pay a gap fee. Re-starting your enrolment will, however, hold your place for that point in time when things start to normalise, and you are ready to take your child back to their centre.”

“We will also make payments of higher amounts available in exceptional circumstances, such as where greater funding is required to meet the needs of emergency workers or vulnerable children.

“The Government is also providing certainty to the preschool sector in recognition of its importance to a student’s formal education.”

The Morrison Government will also provide $453.2 million for preschools in 2021 to support almost 350,000 children to attend preschool. The funding injection comes on top of the $3.2 billion the government has delivered for preschool education since 2014.

There is a range of government assistance available to early learning and child care operators. Most services operate as small businesses, with 79.9 per cent of providers operating a single service, while 95.9 per cent operating fewer than five. The available assistance includes:

  •     The $130 billion JobKeeper payment
  •     A cash flow boost of at least $20,000 and up to $100,000 with payments equal to 100 per cent of businesses’ and not-for-profits’ salary and wages withheld
  •     Loan guarantees so businesses can get working capital

National Cabinet is also considering short-term intervention for commercial tenancy arrangements.

More information is available here, or for COVID-19 information call the 24/7 National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080.



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