Latest Victorian update confirms extra Kinder cleaning money, SRF and more
Susan McDonald, the Acting Deputy Secretary Early Childhood Education in Victoria, has released further information via email to support early childhood education and care (ECEC) services to navigate Stage 3 and 4 restrictions in the state, which she acknowledges have “presented some significant operational changes”.
“Each and every one of you have continued to demonstrate strength and resilience in responding to the changing circumstances as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic,” Ms McDonald said, adding that those in the profession “should be incredibly proud of the pivotal role you play in shaping the education of young children,” thanking them for their dedication and hard work supporting children and families during this time.
Ms McDonald reiterated that under Stage 4 restrictions, ECEC services in metropolitan Melbourne are now required to:
- only remain open to children of permitted workers, whose children cannot be cared for by the employee or another responsible adult at the employee’s residence, and for vulnerable children – this includes Outside School Hours Care (OSHC);
- issue a Permitted Worker Permit (including childcare if necessary) to any staff who are required to work on-site at their service; and,
- co-sign an Access to On-Site Childcare/Kindergarten permit for any of their employees whose children cannot be cared for by the employee or another responsible adult at the employee’s residence.
All other families in metropolitan Melbourne can move to learning from home to support the continuation of their child’s learning and development.
Permits from families
In relation to permitted workers, Ms McDonald confirmed that only one parent in a two parent family situation is required to be permitted in order to access ECEC, but that the state is asking all Victorians to “only access childcare and kinder services if they have to”.
To confirm that a parent, or parents, is/are a permitted worker, parents and carers are required to provide the ECEC service with one of the following documents:
- If working from home, a signed Access to On-Site Childcare/Kindergarten permit;
- If working on-site, a signed Permitted Worker Permit (including childcare);
- For workers that do not need a Permitted Worker Permit, including law enforcement, emergency services or healthcare workers, an employer-issued photographic identification is sufficient.
Services have been recommended to keep a copy of the relevant document for their records.
Permits for ECEC employees
Those services who require their staff to attend on site must issue them with a Permitted Worker Permit. All employees must carry their Permitted Worker Permit, or have an electronic version available on their device, when travelling to and from their work, the Deputy Secretary confirmed, outlining the significant financial penalties for employers and employees who breach the scheme requirements.
To reduce the number of people moving around the community, services are requested to ensure that staff who can work from home do. These staff may support all children not physically attending the service to learn from home. They may also undertake program development work where it is not necessary to be on-site to do this.
Stage 3 areas
Under Stage 3 restrictions, which apply in regional Victoria, sessional kindergarten, long day care and family day care can continue to operate with appropriate risk mitigation measures in place, unless they have been directed by the Department of Health and Human Services to close.
OSHC programs in regional Victoria can continue to operate for children whose parents cannot work from home, vulnerable children and any child with a disability.
In Stage 3 areas, the advice from Ms McDonald was: “While services may see a decrease in attendance, they should continue to encourage all families (except those with special health risks) to attend on-site, to best their child’s learning and development.”
Additional funding will be made available to eligible sessional kindergarten providers for Term 3. This includes funding of $460 per eligible child to offer a free 15 hour program, which replaces the previously announced $230 fee offset. Support will also be provided for unfunded three-year-old programs, with $400 per eligible child to offset lost parent fees. Further information is available in the Term 3 funding factsheet.
Additional funding will be available for services across Victoria that are required to close and undertake an infectious clean as a result of a confirmed case of COVID-19.
For each room where kindergarten programs are delivered, $1,500 will be provided towards the cost of an infectious clean. This is on top of the cleaning and hygiene grants that have been provided to all funded kindergarten services.
Funding to support Learning from Home
Services that are not yet receiving School Readiness Funding (SRF) will be provided with additional funding to support them in the delivery of Learning from home for their families. Services receiving SRF can continue to spend up to $5,000 or up to 25 per cent of their total SRF allocation to support Learning from home.
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