Community Child Care Association sounds alarm at Stage 4 lockdown news
Early and middle childhood services are at risk of permanent closure, advocacy body Community Child Care Association has said, calling for government support to be extended.
Executive Director Julie Price warned that “Government transition payments may not be enough to keep the sector afloat as parents pull their children out of the system” following recent announcements by the Victorian Premier indicating that the only children who should be accessing education and care services are those of permitted workers, or those who are vulnerable.
As the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector awaits further clarification on which children are defined as vulnerable, and which workers are defined as permitted, Ms Price reflected on the peak of the first COVID-19 wave, which saw attendance levels falling to as little as five to ten per cent, necessitating the introduction of the ECEC Relief Package to ensure ECEC businesses remained viable.
“Now, services that have struggled to get back on their feet will face rock-bottom attendances,” Ms Price said, adding that over 40 early and middle childhood services across Victoria are currently closed because of COVID-19.
“They’re struggling to pay up to $9,000 for deep cleaning, and are losing tens of thousands of dollars in income” she added, saying the Government “must act now or the community risks losing the early and middle childhood services they rely on, especially high quality not-for-profits, which comprise just under half of the sector.”
In response, the Community Child Care Association is calling on the Victorian Government to:
- Fully subsidise kindergarten programs in long day care centres to support learning from home for Term 3
- Allow early and middle childhood services that are forced to close because of a positive COVID-19 case to access the Business Support Fund, which will relieve their shutdown costs.
From the Federal Government, Community Child Care Association called for:
- An extension of the 15 per cent Additional Viability Support Payment to all early and middle childhood service types in Metropolitan Melbourne as they drop below 40 per cent attendance rates
- The provision of clear advice to early and middle childhood services in Metropolitan Melbourne around the fee waiver, now that many children will not be permitted to attend
- Additional support for early and middle childhood services that are eligible for the Additional Viability Support Payment through the Community Child Care Fund if the Child Care Subsidy represented less than 40 per cent of their total revenue in the reference week
- An extension of the 15 per cent Additional Viability Support Payment to all outside school hours care services across regional Victoria until the end of September
- A guarantee that additional support provided to early and middle childhood services will ensure employment and income for educators.
Ms Price said the final point was of particular importance, highlighting that educators have already lost JobKeeper.
“Additional government support will mean that their income is guaranteed and they can hold on to their jobs. It will also ensure that services remain afloat and will be there for the families that count on them once this crisis is over.”
The Sector will continue to cover announcements and policy changes as they come to light. To access all relevant statements and transcripts from the Victorian Government, please see here.