The federal government has announced additional targeted support for thousands of child care providers impacted by extended COVID-19 lockdowns through new fortnightly payments.
According to a statement made on Monday, child care services in Commonwealth-declared hotspots will be eligible for payments of 25 per cent of their pre-lockdown revenue. Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) services will be eligible for payments of 40 per cent.
Similar to other support payments made in response to the latest round of lockdowns, the child care stimulus will kick in seven days after the hotspot is declared, where states have directed families to keep their kids at home.
Where kids are still allowed to attend school, the supports will kick in four weeks after the hotspot declaration.
The measure is in addition to the existing Commonwealth supports, including gap fee waivers which allow Commonwealth Child Care Subsidy to continue even when children are not attending.
In a joint statement, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for Education and Youth, Alan Tudge, said the payments would immediately help around 3,600 services caring for almost 300,000 children in Greater Sydney, as well as nearly 900 OSHC services in Metropolitan Melbourne and nearly 300 services in the ACT.
“The child care and early education sector is critically important for Australian families and our economy, and these payments will help keep services open and staff employed,” Prime Minister Morrison said.
“The sector has been doing an incredible job to provide essential care for Australian kids during the pandemic and we are backing them in while attendance rates are down.
“These payments will ensure our high-quality child care and early education centres are there on the other side of these lockdowns.”
The pair confirmed that the new payments will immediately benefit child care services in affected areas of Sydney and the ACT and OSHC services in Metropolitan Melbourne.
All other services in Metropolitan Melbourne, regional Victoria and regional NSW will become eligible after seven days of lockdown, and payments will be backdated to 23 August.
Payments will be contingent on services:
- expecting attendance below 50 per cent
- waiving gap fees for all families whose children are not attending
- maintaining staffing levels
- agreeing to a fee freeze for the duration of support
- not accessing other Commonwealth government-funded supports
Streamlined payments will be available to services in around two weeks.
Families in affected areas are not required to do anything.