Government to extend support for families and services coming out of lockdown
Alan Tudge MP, Minister for Education and Youth, has extended the gap fee waiver policy for services impacted by COVID-19 closures and increased allowable absence days for families in a bid to support families and services as they emerge from lockdown.
The initiatives will see services able to waive families’ gap fees if the service, or part of the service, has to close because of a COVID case, or if a family has been directed to isolate and also allow families to claim a further ten allowable absence days taking the total available to 52 days.
Both extensions will be in place up to 30 June 2022.
“As support arrangements for Commonwealth-declared hotspots end, our focus shifts to ensuring services successfully adapt to living with COVID-19, and children can continue to access early childhood education and care and parents can return to work,” Minister Tudge said.
“When needed, gap fees can be waived and Child Care Subsidy paid where a child care service is closed, or partly closed for cleaning after a positive case or where a family is directed to isolate.”
Since August 2021, the Morrison Government has provided a total of $278 million in fortnightly payments to more than 6,300 Long Day Care and Outside School Hours Care services.
The measures have been received with mixed responses from the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector with Paul Mondo, President of the Australian Childcare Alliance (ACA) commending the Government for offering additional support.
However, Elizabeth Death, CEO of the Early Learning and Care Council of Australia (ELACCA) noted that the announcement does not address the added financial pressures on early learning and care providers that the policy creates due to loss of revenue and the cost that providers are bearing to ensure they are COVID safe.
On a separate theme, Mr Tudge also noted that National Cabinet was working with the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) to develop a nationally consistent framework for the use of Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) in a range of education settings to enable early detection of COVID-19.
To read Mr Tudge’s statement please click here.