ECEC peak bodies respond to Dan Tehan’s COVID-19 sector support proposals
A range of early childhood education and care (ECEC) peak bodies have responded to Federal Minister for Education Dan Tehan’s new proposals to amend CCS legislation to support services and families impacted by COVID-19.
The new proposals, which were released yesterday 23 March, have been included in the Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus Bill 2020, which has since been presented to, and subsequently passed by, Parliament on the evening of 23 March 2020.
A summary of the respective responses from each peak body are below:
Early Learning and Care Council of Australia
ELACCA CEO Elizabeth Death highlighted that their organisation welcomed the announcement from the Australian Government to amend the CCS legislation in a bid to support families and early learning and care providers during these challenging times.
“The changes are a positive first step for children, families and the sector” Ms Death said, noting that they are “underpinned by the consensus position that ensuring workforce stability and the viability of the nation’s early learning sector is critical and a recognition at the highest levels of government of the value of the sector as an essential service.”
ELACCA expressed their commitment to continue to work with the Government to ensure they understand the urgency of further initiatives that will underwrite continuing employment for the early years workforce.
Early Childhood Australia
ECA expressed disappointment with CEO Sam Page noting “The package does not go far enough to support the viability of services and the jobs of educators and teachers and we are calling for more support — urgently.”
Specifically, the ECA raised concerns that support for services was being limited “only to those that have been requested to close temporarily due to public health advice” and not to services that have been forced to close for other reasons, such as falling occupancy or difficulties in securing staff.
“The reason for closure is irrelevant: a service that closed because parents have cancelled their enrolments is no less worthy of support than a service closing due to a diagnosed case of COVID-19” Ms Page added.
ECA called on the Federal Government to keep making child care subsidy (CCS) payments to all services that close due to COVID-19, whether because of infection, a collapse in enrolments or inability to staff the service.
Australian Childcare Alliance
The ACA applauded the Government’s announcement with CEO Paul Mondo noting “Without this change, families would have not received the CCS for those days in childcare that their child may have missed as a result of the Coronavirus self-isolation rules. This update means that those families won’t be financially penalised and will continue to receive the CCS.”
He went on to note that “The revisions will also mean that early learning services that may face a temporary mandatory closure due to COVID-19 will continue to receive Federal funding, allowing them to pay their staff, remain viable and re-open when it is safe to do so.”
That being said, Mr Mondo expressed “a continued commitment to work with the government on the suitability of the newly announced measures and other measures, should the situation continue to escalate”, in a bid to ensure that families are kept safe and the sector receives the appropriate ongoing support and guidance.
“Our engagement with the government on these details is also vital for ensuring that Australia’s essential frontline workers receive the childcare support they need so they can continue working in their important roles,” he added.
Community Early Learning Association
Michele Carnegie, CEO of CELA, wrote to members, noting that the organisation “had been actively advocating for support to ensure the viability of services forced to close due to COVID-19” and that she was “pleased that their voices had been heard.”
As the ECEC sector continues to manage the COVID-19 outbreak The Sector will continue to cover developments as they arise.