The Morrison Government is introducing a range of targeted measures to provide support and certainty to Australian families and the child care sector as they deal with impacts of the COVID-19 Omicron wave.
Families will be provided unlimited additional allowable absences during the peak of the Omicron wave, while children who are high risk will have the gap fee waived if they cannot attend care. The Government will also broaden the gap fee waiver for all children so a service may still receive the CCS if it closes, or partially closes, due to not being able to meet educator to child ratios due to COVID-19 or if it is following health guidelines.
Acting Minister for Education and Youth Stuart Robert said Commonwealth support had kept child care services open and viable throughout the pandemic but the challenges posed by the Omicron wave meant further support for families and services was necessary.
‘We have been reminded time and again throughout the pandemic of the vital importance of the child care sector to maintaining a safe learning environment for our children and for maintaining parents’ and carers’ workforce participation,’ Minister Robert said.
‘The Government is immensely grateful to child care workers and parents for their efforts during this challenging period and the new measures we are announcing today will make their jobs easier and give them certainty going forward.
‘Parents and carers will benefit from unlimited additional allowable absences for use during the peak of the Omicron wave. This means families don’t need to worry about using their annual allocation of absences during January and February.
‘Services will also be able to waive the gap fee and receive Child Care Subsidy (CCS) for any child that is not attending care due to being at higher risk of severe disease from COVID-19. This applies to children with disabilities and severe chronic health conditions, as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
‘We have also broadened the provisions of the gap fee waiver, effective until 30 June, so a service may still receive the CCS if it closes, or partially closes, due to not being able to meet educator to child ratios due to COVID-19 or if it is following health guidelines. Changes to gap fee waivers will relieve pressure on families and provide funding certainty for services.
‘We will also be updating the guidelines for the Community Child Care Fund Special Circumstances so services impacted by ongoing full or partial closures may be eligible for a grant of up to $150,000.
‘These funds will provide critical financial support to eligible services at risk of temporary or permanent closure due to the ongoing impacts of the pandemic.’
Minister Robert said the measures complement the Morrison Government’s offer to support rapid antigen testing for the sector under the National Framework for Managing COVID-19 in Schools and Early Childhood Education and Care through a 50:50 cost-sharing arrangement.
The Government will continue to monitor the situation and work with state and territory authorities to support families with children in care and the early education and child care sector.
For more details about the new measures visit: https://www.dese.gov.au/early-childhood/announcements/more-covid19-support-early-childhood-sector