Goodstart notes end of ‘free care’ not unexpected but calls for more support for families
Goodstart Early Learning, Australia’s largest provider of early childhood education and care services, has released a statement updating their position following yesterday’s announcement by Federal Education Minister, Dan Tehan, that “free childcare” would cease 12 July 2020, with the sector reverting to the previous child care subsidy (CCS) model, with measures of support, from 13 July 2020.
CEO Julia Davison said the ECEC Relief Package, which has provided free care since March, has been a success as “it supported families in a period of economic and community upheaval” going on to note that Goodstart believes children and families “will need increased support for twelve months to see them through the COVID-19 recovery period.”
Specifically, Ms Davison highlighted that more than half of Goodstart families had indicated they have experienced a reduction in family income since March, and that paying fees will be more difficult as a result of the economic constraints imposed as a result.
“We continue to face uncertainty with a survey of our families finding 37 per cent of respondents would have to reduce their usage of child care when fees return” she said, noting that “Only half of those families expected their income to be back to normal by September, and only 62 per cent expected their income to be back to normal by December.”
“Thousands of children will see their access to early learning reduced, and that will have long term consequences on their learning, development and readiness to start school” she said. Although changes to the activity test model will help some families, Ms Davison said, concerns remain that there was no additional assistance being offered to those families who have lost income altogether.
Goodstart did not directly comment on the proposed “Transition Payment” mechanism within the “Return to CCS” roadmap but did highlight that the removal of JobKeeper support nearly three months earlier than expected was a shock and that work was currently underway to understand the impact it would have on their workforce.
To read the statement in full please click here.