The Morrison Government will continue to provide certainty to families and child care services as families adjust after lockdowns.
Until 30 June 2022, services will be 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.
Additionally, a further 10 allowable absence days will be available to families nationally through to 30 June 2022, bringing the total number of allowable absences this financial year to 52 days.
These measures will provide support to ensure the sector remains strong during this transition period, and families have the flexibility and support they need to keep children enrolled in care.
Minister for Education and Youth Alan Tudge said the sector had done an outstanding job under the difficult circumstances to stay open and keep staff employed.
“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.
While the evidence to date is strong that young children are less likely to transmit the disease or get seriously ill from COVID-19, some services may need to close, or close part of the service for short periods if there are positive cases. Children may also be unable to attend care because they have been directed to isolate.
National Cabinet is working with AHPPC to develop a nationally consistent framework for the use of Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) in a range of education settings.
“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,” Minister Tudge said.
Since August 2021, the Morrison Government has provided a total of $278 million in fortnightly payments to more than 6,300 child care and Outside School Hours Care services.
Payments were made to 3,420 services in NSW ($133 million), 2,643 in Victoria ($124 million) and 272 in the ACT ($20 million).
“The fortnightly payments have helped child care services weather the COVID storm so that as jurisdictions come out of lockdown, they are able to continue the vital role they play for families and keep staff employed,” Minister Tudge said.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Morrison Government has invested more than $3.2 billion to support the child care sector so that families could continue to access care and the early childhood education and care workforce remained strong.