Government brings in gap fee “blanket rule” for hotspots impacted for more than 7 days
The Federal Government announced what it has termed a ‘blanket rule’ over the weekend in response to the ongoing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The government has said that any early childhood education and care (ECEC) service which allows families to access the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) will be able to waive gap fees in the event that the area they are in is declared a COVID-19 hotspot by the Commonwealth for more than seven days.
The announcement means that services will have the option to waive gap fees for more Australian families impacted by COVID-19, when they keep their children home during lockdowns.
Services will also be able to waive gap fees from day one of the hotspot declaration if a state or territory directs that centres are only open for some children, for example children of essential workers and vulnerable children.
“Together these changes provide certainty for families. They will immediately benefit families in Metropolitan Melbourne, the ACT and many NSW LGAs which have been identified as hotspots,” said Federal Minister for Education and Youth Alan Tudge.
“It is also good for services because it means families are less likely to pull their children out of care altogether and services still get the government subsidy, even if children aren’t attending.”
The waivers, he continued, build on support already being provided to businesses and families at State and Federal levels in response to the ongoing challenges of COVID-19. Families experiencing a loss of income, such as casual workers or those in self-isolation, may also be eligible for extra support through the Additional Child Care Subsidy (temporary financial hardship).
“In Sydney, with JobSaver in place, an average childcare centre could still be getting up to around 80 per cent of their revenue, even if no children are attending,” Minister Tudge said.
“The measures will give providers more certainty, to help them plan and keep their staff employed so business can continue as usual when the stay at home orders end.”