Thousands of families across regional and remote Australia and Indigenous communities are set for more support to access early childhood education and care as part of sweeping reforms from the Turnbull Government.
Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said the Turnbull Government’s child care and early learning overhaul included a $271 million Community Child Care Fund (CCCF) for more than 850 services to “break down barriers” to early childhood education and care.
“We’re backing the families who live in communities where access to quality, reliable early learning and child care isn’t always guaranteed,” Minister Birmingham said.
“These child care and early learning services have now been given additional support from the Turnbull Government for the work they do to break down barriers for children and families.
“The new targeted CCCF is a key part of the Coalition’s early learning and child care overhaul to ensure those services are more affordable and accessible for families who need them most.
“This is about giving vulnerable children a strong start while supporting parents into work.”
Minister Birmingham said the CCCF would deliver $115 million to more than 700 outside school hours care, centre-based day care and family day care services eligible for the competitive round of funding for the next five years, and $156 million for 151 mainly Budget Based Funded (BBF) child care services and Non-Formula Funded Occasional Care Services as part of the non-competitive round of funding.
“We want to help these valuable child care and early learning services take advantage of the Turnbull Government’s broader overhaul of the system to help us deliver more support for more families,” Minister Birmingham said.
“We recognise that Budget Based Funded services in particular often operate in remote and Indigenous communities and face unique circumstances, which is why we’ve guaranteed them a specific funding stream within the CCCF.
“The system we inherited was a mess of historical inequalities and special arrangements to support many of the child care and early learning services in regional and disadvantaged communities. It meant a service in one area could be getting tens of thousands of dollars per child from the Government each year while another service somewhere else doing similar work was getting less than $100 per child each year.
“While the priority of the CCCF is to ensure current services are viable, it is encouraging to see that 96 applicants for the non-competitive funding intend to expand their service offerings through longer hours or additional offerings. Of these, 66 applicants will receive CCCF amounts greater than the BBF funding they have had to date. This confirms our concern that too many BBF services had outgrown the support they had been receiving under the capped and closed program and we are pleased to rectify that through this new funding stream.
“From July 2018 families who use these services will have access to the same subsidies that assist other Australian families with the cost of child care and early learning. Given that many of these services will receive subsidies per child for the first time, we have incorporated a ‘checkpoint’ three months into the package, so we can assess whether the service has collected the level of subsidy anticipated and top-up the grant funding as needed to ensure viability.”
Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion said a number of BBF services would be supported by the CCCF through the Government’s Indigenous Advancement Strategy.
“We’re also committed to supporting those BBFs that don’t deliver child care and aren’t ready to transition to the new system we’re putting in place for early childhood education and care,” Minister Scullion said, “we are working closely with these services and giving them additional assistance to support their transition to the Indigenous Advancement Strategy.
“We understand the important work many of those services have been doing, so we will support them to keep engaging Indigenous youth through our Indigenous Advancement Strategy.”
Minister Birmingham said the switchover to the Turnbull Government’s new child care and early learning system starts on 2 July 2018, but urged families not to wait to the last minute to take action.
Details about the Community Child Care Fund are available at https://www.education.gov.au/community-child-care-fund-0