Is there any additional ECEC support for families as Jobkeeper ends?
With the Jobkeeper support package ending on 28 March, many early childhood education and care (ECEC) services will be receiving questions about additional support services which may be available for families who have experienced job loss or reduction of income as a result.
Additional subsidies and supports are available to ensure children can continue to attend ECEC, as outlined below.
Families experiencing temporary financial hardship
Families who are experiencing temporary financial hardship (TFH) due to an event that happened in the last six months (including COVID-19) or have a substantially reduced ability to pay childcare fees may be eligible for the Government’s Additional Child Care Subsidy (ACCS).
If income has been reduced because of a job loss, separation, caring for a seriously ill family member, loss of a family member or loss of a business families may be eligible for up to 13 weeks of subsidy towards childcare fees, for up to 100 hours of care per fortnight.
In most cases, these subsidies will cover the full fees charged by a service (up to 120 per cent of the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) hourly rate cap).
Claims for ACCS – TFH must be lodged within six months of the event occurring. Families who have previously made a claim for ACCS – TFH may be eligible for a second round of support, provided they are not applying for the same reason as they used to access support in the first round.
For example, round one of ACCS – TFH may have been a parent being stood down without pay. The second application could be for losing a job. Centrelink holds responsibility for testing the validity of circumstances for ACCS – TFH applications. Some of the following reasons may constitute a valid application:
- Being stood down from work/no rostered hours;
- Reduced hours or irregular work (including after a period of being stood down or even returning to work);
- Inability to find or return to work due to business or industry impacts from COVID, something which should especially be considered in localised areas of very high unemployment, e.g. where local employment relies heavily on tourism (e.g Gold Coast);
- Having to leave home because of extreme circumstance, eg could no longer afford rent/mortgage due to COVID-19;
- Serious illness of a family member or having a health vulnerable family member at home, restricting ability to work/study/travel outside the home; and/or,
- Other major disaster event, including widespread lockdowns, floods, etc.
For further information on the eligibility criteria for all types of ACCS – TFH please visit the Services Australia website.
Families with access to the internet can apply for ACCS online or in person by visiting your local Centrelink office. To support the application, it is helpful for families to write a statutory declaration that states the following:
- The event or incident that has caused the financial hardship, e.g. lost job, substantially reduced income, family illness, natural disaster, etc.;
- The date the event occurred; and,
- How the event has affected the ability to pay childcare fees.
Families who are training, re-skilling or getting back into work from income support
Families who are currently receiving income support payments from Centrelink, such as JobSeeker or Parenting Payments, may be eligible for Additional Child Care Subsidy (ACCS) Transition to Work.
The subsidy pays up to 95 per cent of childcare fees to allow families to get back to work or do some study or training/upskilling to help them find a new job.
Applications for the Transition to Work funding can be made online via myGov or in person by visiting a local Centrelink office.