DESE issues clear guidance for NSW ECEC services affected by COVID-19 lockdown
Extra support is now available for the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector and families during the extended COVID-19 lockdown in New South Wales, the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) has announced, also outlining additional advice and existing support options which may be of use.
From 19 July in Local Government Areas (LGAs) subject to stay-at-home orders can waive gap fees for parents on days they choose to keep their children at home. As previously announced, services can also waive gap fees if they are directed to close by a local authority because of COVID-19 until 31 December 2021.
COVID-19 Disaster Payment
The Australian Government has announced an increase to the COVID-19 Disaster Payment, with more information to be made available on the Services Australia website.
Local Area Emergency extended
The Local Area Emergency period (LAE) for services in affected LGAs now runs from 26 June to 30 July for services in the following 36 LGAs:
City of Sydney, Municipality of Woollahra, City of Randwick, Municipality of Waverley, Bayside Council, Blacktown City Council, Blue Mountains City Council, Municipality of Burwood, Camden Council, Central Coast Council, City of Campbelltown, City of Canada Bay, City of Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland City Council, City of Fairfield, Georges River Council, City of Hawkesbury, Hornsby Shire, Municipality of Hunter’s Hill, Inner West Council, Ku-ring-gai Council, Lane Cove Council, City of Liverpool, Mosman Council, North Sydney Council, Northern Beaches Council, City of Parramatta, City of Penrith, City of Ryde, Shellharbour City Council, Municipality of Strathfield, Sutherland Shire, The Hills Shire, Wollondilly Shire, City of Willoughby, and Wollongong City Council.
Allowable absences reset on 1 July 2021 for the new financial year. This means that from this date all children had 42 absence days available to them.
Families whose service is in a declared LAE can access additional absences if they have used their 42 allowable absences. Learn more about absences during an LAE.
Some services may be eligible for a Community Child Care Fund Special Circumstances Grant.
Families affected by COVID-19 may be eligible to receive additional support with the cost of child care through the Additional Child Care Subsidy (temporary financial hardship). Families must apply directly to Centrelink.
For services forced to close
Services who temporarily close for any reason and for any period must notify DESE using the Provider Entry Point (PEP) or relevant third-party software.
These notifications are additional to those that must be given to the relevant state or territory regulatory authority.
Action items for services
- Update vacancy details in the Child Care Finder to support families needing extra/additional care. Do this via the Provider Entry Point or third-party software.
- Update service contact details, particularly email addresses, in the Child Care Subsidy System to ensure important information is received. Do this via the Provider Entry Point or third-party software.
- Ask families to maintain their enrolments. This will ensure children receive continuity of care and early learning.
Services should use the NSW Government’s COVID-19 response website for local updates as they come to hand.