Dept of Education releases COVID19 information pack for providers
The Federal Department of Education, Skills and Employment has released an information pack for early childhood education and care (ECEC) providers which contains details of support mechanisms that are available for services to draw upon, in the event that the service as a business, or families using the service, are severely impacted by COVID-19.
The release was followed by a statement from Federal Minister for Education Dan Tehan which highlighted that the Government is working with state and territory governments and the ECEC sector to help try and minimise the impact of COVID-19, and that sector peak bodies had been in contact with the Government to outline their priorities as early as last week.
In addition, as fears of forced centre shutdowns become increasingly evident ,the statement highlighted that it was state and territory health authorities that are responsible for wider decisions that may affect services in that regard.
With respect to the key information included in the information pack the following is of note:
Circumstances that may impact a family due to COVID-19 with applicable support:
- Parent loses their job due to COVID-19: Families that have experienced a reduced ability to pay fees because of lost income due to COVID-19 will become eligible for Additional Childcare Subsidy (ACCS) (temporary financial hardship) which is equal to the actual fee charged or up to 120 per cent of the hourly rate for 13 weeks, and families are eligible for 100 hours of care per fortnight.
- Child cannot attend due to COVID-19: Where a child does not attend care because s/he is ill, or because of the families precautionary actions, the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) for that child will continue to be paid for up to 42 days. Documentation confirming the reason for the absence does not need to be provided up to 42 days but is required thereafter.
Both ACCS and CCS for absences can only be paid if the service remains open. They cannot be used to support service viability in times of unexpected hardship.
Circumstances that may impact a service due to COVID-19 with applicable support:
- Service viability is impacted by COVID-19: Where services have seen enrolment drop due to families cutting back on care for stopping care due to COVID-19, funding is available through the Community Child Care Fund (CCCF) Special Circumstances Grant Scheme to providers to help cover business costs including wages and other costs. The amount of funding provided will be determined on a case by case basis with applications of less than $10,000 taking days to assess and streamlined processes in place for larger applications.
Mr Tehan’s statement confirmed that the CCCF had received $14 million of funding thus far to support services.
The Government has not as yet provided any guidance to the ECEC sector as to what support mechanisms would be in place should mandated shutdowns of services as part of broader COVID-19 containment plans be required by state and territory governments.
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