Major NFP early learning provider calls for more support for multi-service charities

by Freya Lucas

April 08, 2020

Uniting NSW.ACT has called on the Federal Government to offer further support for registered charities who provide early learning education and care (ECEC) and additional services, who are excluded from the JobKeeper package announced last week. 

 

While the package has supported some registered charities who provide ECEC as their primary offering, such as Goodstart Early Learning, the 15 per cent decline in turnover metric does not support charities who also offer services to youth and aged care.

 

Uniting’s Head of Early Learning Rod Nadwie-Smith asked that the JobKeeper legislation to test the 15 per cent fall in revenue be applied separately to other service offerings for multi-service not-for-profit organisations such as Uniting NSW.ACT.

 

“Early Learning only makes up 3 per cent of the turnover of Uniting NSW.ACT. Not-for-profit providers like Uniting should get access to the funding that the Government has clearly put in place to keep childcare services open. We shouldn’t be disadvantaged due to our organisational structure,” Mr Nadwie-Smith said. 

 

The ECEC services offered by Uniting NSW.ACT provide care for over 4,500 children across the two states, and employ 850 adults, with Mr Nadwie-Smith making it clear that “the package is not an adequate solution for the sector if it doesn’t work for everyone”. 

 

As with many others in the sector, Uniting is experiencing dramatic declines in attendance, with their long day care services falling by 50 per cent, and attendance at out of school hours care (OSHC) and preschool falling by 80 per cent – numbers which Mr Nadwie-Smith said are not sustainable from a business perspective. 

 

Without access to JobKeeper, Uniting Early Learning stands to lose $2.7 million in NSW/ACT in the next three months, leaving them at a substantial loss, and with no option other than to close some services. A further complication is that the ECEC Relief Package does not apply to preschools – meaning some arms of the Early Learning offering are especially vulnerable. 

 

Despite drops in attendance and revenue, because of the other arms of service offered by the charity, such as aged care, Uniting is not eligible for support, with Mr Nadwie-Smith saying “even if we lose 100 per cent of our Early Learning revenue, we still won’t qualify”.

 

To learn more about the services offered by Uniting Early Learning, please see here

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