Free childcare during COVID-19: A ‘sad’ educator reveals the real cost to Family Day Care

Free cgildcare during covid-19
Family Day Care Educators are in a position where they may be facing a halved income

Free childcare during COVID-19 is something we’ve heard so much about in the last few days. When we saw this personal post from an educator from a Family Day Care, we had to share her insights. Free childcare is wonderful in its concept, but it’s not a solution that will help her, or her business, survive.

Free childcare during COVID-19: The real cost to Family Day Care

I know everyone is doing it tough but the government seems to have taken a group who were holding their own and knocked their feet out from under them.

The system of child care subsidy worked like this (sorry if you already know this bit but as the PM said, you might not know exactly):

  • It was means-tested, so parents technically paid what they could afford. An example – if I charge $100 for 8am-6pm (10hrs of care) the government would pay $45 and the parent would pay $55. Another parent might only need to pay $25 and the govt would pay $75 – all depending on the parents income.
  • Now, the government has said that childcare is free. They will pay 50%. So, in the example above,  if I charge $100 then the Government will pay $50. The catch is, I am not allowed to charge the gap any more. What the government has failed to mention is that child care is free for the parents at my expense and at the expense of every Family Day Care Educator who has had her income halved over a matter of days.

As of Monday I will earn half of what I earned last week, although I will be working the same hours with the same children, doing the same job. I am taking a 50% pay cut so that families who are still working and earning their full pay can have free child care. My family is not a high income family. This will cripple us. This will destroy Family Day Care. Regardless of an Educators family income – as of Monday, we will all be working for half price.

Considering we weren’t the ones losing families in the first place, and that we are all mostly full, it is devastating. I am full, all my spots are taken. Five days a week, ten hours a day. All of my families have stayed with me throughout this pandemic and are bringing their children in every day. They are all mostly working from home and receiving their normal pay.

Like most Family Day Care Centres, families recognise the unique experience and environment that a Family Day Care Educator can offer. I should have been in a good position to support the families in my community and look after my own family, my teenage boys and my husband, if something happens to his job as a bus driver, but now I’m not. I have never been a burden to the tax payer and now I’ll have to try and apply for a payment (JobKeeper) that hasn’t been passed yet and doesn’t come out for a month. I will now be another person clogging up Centrelink as will almost every other FDC educator.

Free childcare during COVID-19: FDC educators and risk

In a time when only two people can gather outside and socialising has been abolished, shopping trips are limited to groceries and most other close contact businesses have been closed down (dentists, cafes etc), children are still being encouraged to attend child care? I am not given PPE, I am not able to social distance from the children (they are all under 5 and still need lots of love and cuddles) and I am exposing my home and family every day. All Family Day Care Educators are in the same position and are now expected to do it for half the income.

We are small businesses. We are sole traders, a single person trying to run a business from our houses. We are not the same as long day care centres and we shouldn’t be lumped in with them when it comes to funding. Some of us may be eligible for the JobKeeper payment but there is still a substantial number of Educators who won’t be. The timing is ill-considered since JobKeeper hasn’t been passed and won’t be available until May. We all have to try and operate at our usual high standards, buying equipment, paying our bills and running our businesses and only receiving half our pay. As sole traders, we may also, possibly be eligible to access our own super, again, not until the end of April so not an option to help us now. My super has already taken a hit thanks to this crisis and now I’m going to have to try and withdraw some of it as well. That is outrageous, as a low income earner, I hardly have enough as it is.

“From a very sad and discouraged Family Day Care Educator”

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