School holiday updates from DESE in relation to support in COVID-19 hotspots
Early childhood education and care (ECEC) providers in Commonwealth declared COVID-19 hotspots (which last for more than seven days) will be contacted by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) in the event that they become eligible for additional support during the school holidays, however the following guide has been shared to support services to understand the types of support available.
This table also outlines eligibility criteria for COVID-19 support, and clarifies when support starts and ends.
Payments for OSHC and vacation care
Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) services that provide vacation care in an eligible hotspot over the September/October 2021 school holidays will receive 40 per cent of their pre-lockdown revenue for the fortnight 20 September to 3 October.
The Department will send business continuity payment offers to services providing vacation care in Victoria, New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory by Saturday 25 September.
Eligible services providing vacation care in the school holidays will need to opt in to those payments by 7 October to receive payment for the 20 September to 3 October fortnight.
OSHC services in eligible hotspots will continue to receive business continuity payments even when a hotspot ends until all primary school-aged children are permitted to return to school. The business continuity payment guidelines will be updated shortly to reflect this, the Department said.
Families in hotspots
Support is available for families who live in a hotspot but have children enrolled at a service outside the hotspot.
Services that are not in a hotspot can waive gap fees for children living in eligible hotspots while they are absent. These children will also be able to access additional allowable absences during the hotspot period. This applies from 23 June. The Department will provide more information about this support shortly.
Additionally, if a family in a hotspot of more than seven days chooses to end their child’s enrolment, any absences after the child’s last physical attendance will be eligible for Child Care Subsidy (CCS).
“There are important steps you must take to end enrolments in this situation,” a Departmental spokesperson said. Learn what to do if a family ends their enrollment during a hotspot.
“We will soon pay back CCS where debts have been raised after 12 July. You must pass this on to the family if you have raised the debt with them. We will provide more information about this soon,” the Department added.
Services receiving business continuity payments
Services do not need to tell the Department if they are coming out of lockdown. If the hotspot ends during the first week of a business continuity payment fortnight, service’s will still receive the full fortnightly payment.
Importantly, services must continue to waive gap fees until the end of the fortnightly payment.
“You must let us know if your circumstances change and you no longer meet payment conditions,” the Department said, by sending an email to [email protected] and asking for a change of circumstances form.
In order to ensure that information about COVID-19 support is made available to services and providers, the Department asked that users ensure that their contact details are up to date in the Child Care Subsidy System via the Provider Entry Point or relevant third-party software.
Further details about COVID-19 support is available on the Department’s website, here.