Approved providers could soon be fined for Family Assistance Law breaches, DESE says
Early childhood education and care (ECEC) providers could soon be issued with infringement notices for breaches of Family Assistance Law, the Department of Education, Skills and Employment has signaled in a recent email communication.
Infringements, the Department said, are aimed at helping providers to avoid more severe penalties by allowing them to pay a small fine, rather than going to court where a much larger penalty may be applied.
The infringements may relate to provider obligations in relation to the Child Care Subsidy, under which providers have a range of administrative and reporting responsibilities and obligations.
“Good business administration and reporting helps the Government’s goals of the Child Care Subsidy be met,” the communication from the Department read. “It is also essential to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
While most ECEC providers comply with the law and do the right thing, the DESE has signaled that it will be focusing on “some specific contraventions”.
“Over the coming months we’ll provide education and use infringements to help improve compliance,” the communication noted.
Fee information will be first under compliance spotlight
Later in the same email, the Department noted that reporting fee information is a requirement under Family Assistance Law, and that this is an area of concern where infringement notices could be issued, particularly in light of the recent announcement that Child Care Finder will be scrapped, with responsibility for publishing this information now to sit with DESE.
“From late November, we will issue a small number of infringements to providers who have not reported their fee information,” the Department said.
“We won’t be sending infringements at the moment to providers in regions that have been heavily affected by COVID-19.”
More information about fee reporting will be communicated by the Department, via its early childhood newsletter, in coming weeks. In the meantime, providers are encouraged to report their fees through the Provider Entry Point (PEP) or via their third-party software. For help, see the task card on reporting fees in the PEP or contact the relevant software provider.