IEU shares Tehan letter ahead of predicted return to CCS
The New South Wales/ACT branch of the Independent Education Union (IEU) has shared their concerns about a decline in enrolments when services revert to full fees and a CCS model via a letter to Federal Education Minister, Dan Tehan.
In communications with members, the Union shared that it had written to Mr Tehan in May to share its concerns that ‘free childcare’ will end abruptly at the end of June, and about the impact on the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector of “drastic increases” in unemployment and underemployment as a result of Coronavirus shutdowns.
The letter to Mr Tehan urged the Minister to “be mindful that many families have experienced a decline in household income due to workplace closures or reduced hours of work” with the Union warning that several of its members had advised that “a substantial number of families have indicated a return to full fees would cause them significant financial hardship at this time.”
If full fees are reinstated as early as July, some parents may need to give up their childcare places, potentially preventing them from returning to work or increasing their hours when their employer requests this, the Union said.
In acknowledgement of the benefits of early childhood education and care to children, families and the broader economy (including improved productivity through enhanced workforce participation rates), the IEU asked the Federal government to support the viability of the sector through “a continued and increased commitment to investment in the critical early years.”
The activity test, the Union said, should continue to be suspended during the long-term economic recovery period.
“Reviewing the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) would allow all stakeholders – providers, parents and the federal government – time to re-think the CCS to ensure all Australian children have the best start in life” the statement read.
To this end, the IEU believes that the Federal Government should “provide at least two days of free early education and care in early learning services for every child. Additional early childhood education and care should be available to vulnerable families and children at no cost.”
Families wishing to access care for more than two days, the IEU continued, should have the usual CCS formula based on parental income apply to any additional days.
“The IEU supports the Grattan Institute recommendation that the Federal Government subsidises 95 per cent of childcare costs for low income and vulnerable families with the subsidy tapering as family income increases. This would assist parents wanting to increase their hours of work to do so, support post-crisis economic recovery and boost GDP through higher workforce participation” the statement noted.
As requests for enrolments in individual services increase, the childcare relief subsidy payment should be increased from the current 50 per cent cap to 80 per cent of the maximum hourly rate for the period that parents are not charged fees. This will enable providers to accept new enrolments on a financially viable basis, the IEU said.
To read the statement in full, please see here.