Unlimited allowable absences as Omicron continues path through Australian ECEC

Unlimited allowable absences as Omicron continues path through Australian ECEC

by Freya Lucas

January 28, 2022

Early childhood education and care (ECEC) services will be able to provide unlimited allowable absences to families throughout January and February 2022 under new measures announced yesterday by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment in a bid to further support the sector as COVID-19 continues. 

 

There are now additional reasons for services to waive gap fees also. Until 30 June 2022, services can waive the gap fee and still receive Child Care Subsidy (CCS) if a child is unable to attend care for any of the following four reasons: 

 

  • The child, or a member of their immediate household, must isolate due to COVID-19;

 

  • The child is at a higher risk of severe disease from COVID-19. This includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children; 

 

  • The service, or a room at the service, is closed due to COVID-19. This includes where a service closes based on general guidance from a state or territory government agency, or because educator to child ratios cannot be safely met as the educator/s must isolate. Written advice specific to the impacted service is not required.

 

  • The state or territory has restricted access to child care in a region due to COVID-19. This includes where the state or territory has restricted school attendance, in the case of Outside School Hours Care.

 

More information about gap fee waivers can be found here

 

Unlimited allowable absences

 

In response to the Omicron wave, the Department will provide unlimited allowable absences throughout January and February 2022 as the Omicron wave continues to impact Australia. 

 

Families will not have to use their 52 allowable absences for the 2021–22 financial year during this period. These absences will be automatically applied in the Child Care Subsidy System.

 

In the instance that a child has already exceeded their 52 absences in January, the Department may back pay the service. If this occurs, the benefit must be passed on to the family. Unlimited absences do not apply in Western Australia.

 

Absences at the start or end of an enrolment

 

To support families who begin or end enrolments during the peak of Omicron, the Department will apply exceptions for January and February 2022 in relation to child care subsidy and mandated physical attendance on their first or last day. 

 

The following exceptions apply for services in all states and territories except Western Australia:

 

From 1 January to 28 February 2022, the Department will pay CCS for any absences prior to a child’s first day, or after their last day for enrolments that begin or end during this period. The absences can be taken for any reason.

 

From 1 to 31 December 2021 and 1 March to 30 June 2022, the Department will pay CCS for any absences in the 7 days prior to a child’s first day, or after their last day, if the child or a member of their immediate household must isolate due to COVID-19.

 

The following exceptions apply for services in Western Australia:

 

From 1 December 2021 to 30 June 2022, the Department will pay CCS for any absences in the 7 days prior to a child’s first day, or after their last day, if the child or a member of their immediate household must isolate due to COVID-19.

 

Further information will be provided to services about what is required to ensure absences are paid in line with the above. 

 

Please see the Department’s website for further information. 

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