More needs to be done for Sydney services, as over 50 providers sound a crisis alarm
The Prime Minister must act urgently to respond to reports that 50 early learning providers in Sydney consider the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector to be in crisis, advocacy group Thrive by Five has said.
“Early learning and childcare centres in Sydney, and other locked down regions, are under extreme pressure and are reaching breaking point,” Thrive by Five CEO Jay Weatherill said.
“There’s a real fear that more early learning providers may be forced to close their centres or stand down their workers if greater Federal government support doesn’t arrive immediately.”
Mr Weatherill expressed his concerns for the sector, urging the Government to intervene to avoid standdowns, closures, or termination of educator roles.
“Early learning providers and their essential workers were offered a Federal government support package during the Melbourne lockdown last year, why isn’t the same government support available now?” he asked.
“The early learning and childcare sector was already suffering from an insecure workforce and high fees, now the pandemic and further lockdowns are driving them close to collapse. The Prime Minister must take responsibility and provide support for quality early learning and childcare centres to remain open and retain their workers.”
His position was supported by The Parenthood Executive Director Georgie Dent, who last week wrote to the Prime Minister and Minister Tudge to urgently request Commonwealth financial support for early childhood education and care providers in Greater Sydney during lockdown.
While providers are permitted to waive the gap fee for children who cannot attend, and keep the Child Care Subsidy, which is welcome financial relief for families, this places unsustainable financial pressure on providers, including long day care, out-of-school-hours care and family day care services, Ms Dent said.
“The early learning and childcare situation in Greater Sydney right now is nothing short of a crisis,” she added, outlining the pressure that is now building on early learning and childcare providers who are left to absorb the cost of the covid crisis and extended Sydney lockdown.
With absences around 70 per cent in the most affected local government areas, and around 30 per cent across the rest of Sydney, serious questions are emerging about the ongoing financial impact on providers and how educators will continue to be paid, Ms Dent shared.