NSW families to get a $500 OSHC voucher to “ease the childcare burden”
The family of every primary school aged child in New South Wales will receive a $500 voucher in a bid to “ease the childcare burden” as well as providing a much needed boost to outside school hours care (OSHC) providers, the New South Wales Government has announced.
The $155 million program is designed to give parents more options to return to work, and parents will be able to apply for the vouchers through Service NSW from February 28. The vouchers are intended to cover the gap fee charged by OSHC services, and are anticipated to cover about 60 sessions of before and after-school care. Vacation care is not covered by the voucher.
Providers will be able to register to participate in the scheme from 7 February, and families will store and redeem vouchers through the Service NSW app, in a similar way to the popular “Dine and Discover” vouchers, with providers scanning a families QR code, or using a unique voucher code to redeem.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said that OSHC services are “more important than ever” as families head into the new school year.
“It’s been a challenging past couple of years for parents of school-aged children. Many have had to juggle the demands of supervising their kids’ education at home while working remotely, or even forgoing paid work,” he explained.
“These vouchers for before and after school care will help alleviate some of the financial pressures on NSW families and provide greater flexibility and more options for those who need to work.”
In an article published by The Sydney Morning Herald covering the announcement, Craig Napier, the chief executive of Junior Adventures Group and head of the Outside School Hours Council of Australia (OSHCA) said that attendance rates at OSHC services had been falling, with before school care options particularly hard hit.
Given the lifting of work-from-home directives has now been put on hold due to the Omicron outbreak, many parents and providers are uncertain about when and how often children will require care when workers return to the office.
“We think there’s daylight coming, and along comes Omicron, and we just get hit again,” Mr Napier said. “We took a decision as an industry (sic.) to continue to run our services to provide services to parents. You’ve got one or two children in a service, there are two staff there, the equation is pretty obvious.”
Mr Napier said the initiative was “very much welcome” in the OSHC sector, describing it as recognition of the “dire viability our sector faces. We’re on the brink of viability.”
NSW Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government Victor Dominello said OSHC providers would be able to register to redeem the vouchers from 7 February and parents would be able to apply for, and utilise, the vouchers from 28 February. Providers and customers can register and apply online via a MyServiceNSW account, in the app, or by visiting their nearest Service Centre.
To access the Sydney Morning Herald coverage of this story please see here.
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