No consensus from ECEC Peak Bodies on new ‘Return to CCS’ roadmap
Early childhood education and care (ECEC) key peak bodies have expressed a wide diversity of views in response to the release of the ‘Return to CCS’ roadmap announced by Dan Tehan, Federal Minister of Education yesterday.
The long-awaited announcement from Mr Tehan confirmed the cessation of the ECEC Relief Package emergency support measures and a return to the old Child Care Subsidy (CCS) system, albeit with some additions and amendments designed to aid all stakeholders to manage the change.
Elizabeth Death, CEO of the Early Learning and Care Council of Australia (ELACCA) welcomed the announcement whilst noting that the although a return to CCS does mean families will once again pay fees, the CCS100 activity test will mean those who have been impacted by COVID-19 with loss of employment, reduced hours and subsequent income reduction “will be more able to access and afford early education.”
The changes to the activity test, referred to as CCS100, outline new rules that will enable individuals who can no longer engage in the same number of hours of work, training, study or other activity that they did prior to the COVID-19 crisis to access 100 hours of subsidised care per fortnight for up to 12 weeks.
By moving to a transition payment model, she continued, cash flow support will be delivered to providers “as they navigate changes in enrolments due to the challenges COVID has presented to many families.”
Early Childhood Australia CEO, Samantha Page, was less positive highlighting the complexity of the transition package, the removal of the JobKeeper support and the switch back to the co-payment system embedded in the CCS as problematic.
Ms Page said “The transition package creates additional complexities and uncertainties for both services and families” noting that the changes do not address the fact that many families have entered a period of lower income and uncertainty about future income for the rest of the year.
“This change makes no sense at this time and will remove crucial supports for the early childhood sector during a period of ongoing uncertainty” she added.
Paul Mondo, CEO of the Australian Childcare Alliance, took a more positive stance commending the Government for putting the transition process in place and recognising the importance of the early learning sector over the challenging COVID-19 months.
With respect to the Transition Payment Mr Mondo said the payment “is designed to deliver a more equitable outcome across all early learning service providers” (given the challenges some services had with JobKeepers eligibility) and “ensures the survival of service providers as we navigate through a period of economic uncertainty.”
In closing their statements both ELACCA and the ACA indicated that they would continue to work with the Australian Government going forward.