Inclusion Development Fund payments during ECEC Relief Package rules – hints and tips
The Federal Department of Education, Skills and Employment has released information to support services in claiming Inclusion Development Fund (IDF) Payments during the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) Relief Package Arrangements.
The Sector has prepared the following information to assist services with this process. As with much of the information being circulated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this information is subject to change, and should be cross referenced with the original source for the latest version of the advice and information given.
Making a claim without submitting attendance records in the CCS system
The Department has made a system change in the Inclusion Support Portal (ISP) to facilitate ISP payments during the Relief Package Arrangements.
While the system has changed, there is no change to the actual allowable non-face-to-face hours in each case, and services are only eligible for IDF for the hours of actual attendance and the approved number of non-face-to-face hours as set out in their funding letter.
For care provided from 6 April 2020, services should claim all IDF claim hours as non face-to-face hours, including the actual attendance of the case child and approved non face-to-face hours.
The Department has changed the ISP to notionally increase the ‘Additional nonface-to-face hours’ for each case to allow services to claim IDF payments without the attendance records in the Child Care Subsidy System.
In the event that an error message is received when claiming, services should first seek a solution from their software provider, and then contact the Inclusion Development Fund Manager ([email protected]).
Recording attendance and auditing
Services are still required to record attendance, and these records will be used by the Department to verify IDF claims. Additionally, claim patterns will be monitored by the Department, and any anomalies will be investigated.
Inclusion professionals will regularly contact services to confirm that IDF case children are attending, and that the service is meeting educator to child ratios.
The Department will also access attendance records of services and reconcile that with reported children’s attendance from parent surveys
Services can continue to submit new applications for ISP funding under the updated ISP Guidelines that were published on 30 March 2020. This IDF payment mechanism is expected to be in place for the duration of the ECEC Relief Package arrangements.
Change of circumstance claims
If one or more children are not currently attending the service due to COVID-19 social isolation measures, the service does not need to take any action in relation to their IDF subsidy approval for an additional educator, as it is anticipated that many children will return to services in the future.
Services should, however, ensure that they only claim IDF Subsidy for the hours where additional support is needed, which may be for less hours than approved, particularly where the approval includes more than one child.
It is important to note that the Additional Educator is an extra educator employed to work in the care environment above the educator to child ratio requirements based on the ages of children attending, and that the combining of rooms, age groups etc in response to low numbers may affect this.
In most instances, the Department said, email advice of any changes will suffice, without the need to submit a change of circumstances.
Further advice and examples in relation to this point are highlighted in the Department’s FAQ document.
Navigating temporary service closures
Services who need to close temporarily in response to COVID-19 directives, and who have current IDF Approvals can have their approvals reactivated when the service reopens. The Department advised providers to check the approval end date of their current IDF approval.
If, when a service reopens, the approval period has ended, services should contact their Inclusion Professional (IP) for support with submitting a renewal application.
Further scenarios, including submitting new claims during the ECEC Relief Package, adding extra days to Vacation Care in response to the pandemic, and managing immediate/time limited support claims, are discussed at length in the Department’s documentation, which can be accessed here.