Tehan confirms support measures to help operator viability during COVID-19 shock
Dan Tehan, Federal Minister of Education has confirmed new measures designed to support early childhood education and care (ECEC) services to remain viable and pay staff during enforced COVID-19 closures, should they occur, and help families with the cost of care going forward.
The combination of the measures is likely to provide some relief to the ECEC sector amidst concerns of the impact on businesses and organisations should enforced closures of centres be mandated for health reasons and clarity for families considering the repercussions of withdrawing children from services due to COVID-19 related reasons.
Legislation to bring the changes into effect will be presented to Parliament today, 23 March 2020.
The key proposed amendments to support operators are as follows:
- In the event of closure by a state based health authority the child care service will continue to receive Child Care Subsidy over the duration of the closure.
The key proposed amendments to support families are as follows:
- The number of absences a family can claim will be increased to more than 42 days.
- Additional absences can be claimed with no need for additional documentation
- No gap fee will be payable if a centre is forced by a health authority to close
Commenting on the announcement Mr Tehan said “By paying the Child Care Subsidy to services that are forced to close temporarily, we are providing financial support to businesses to pay their staff and remain viable so they can re-open when it is safe to do so.”
However he went on to clarify that that “Federal Government assistance will only apply where the closure of a child care service is based on public health advice, not where the centre closes voluntarily” and that all ECEC services should follow the advice from their state or territory authorities on matters related to COVID-19.
The advice of health officials is that services should remain open, unless otherwise directed, and that children should continue to attend ECEC. 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 this website, the Minister said in closing.