Federal Government asks childcare centres to protect places in Victoria as stage 4 coronavirus lockdown takes force

| 05.08,20. 02:00 PM |

Federal Government asks childcare centres to protect places in Victoria as stage 4 coronavirus lockdown takes force

The Federal Government offered free child care in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic.(ABC News: Loretta Florance)

The Federal Government will give money to Victorian childcare centres, asking that they allow parents to keep their children at home without losing their places or facing fees, Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan says.

Additional funding will be provided to centres in the state, to encourage them not to charge fees for absent children for an additional 30 days.

It will effectively allow parents to keep their children out of care for six extra working weeks without being stung by additional costs, if their centre agrees to waive the fee.

"Ultimately the decision to waive the gap fee is up to the provider themselves, but what this package does is incentivise providers to waive the gap fee," Mr Tehan said.

"We want those parents to keep their children enrolled because we know once we come out of this pandemic, they will need the care for their children so that they can go back to work."

The new arrangements will be in place from tomorrow.

Childcare centres and parents have been left facing severe uncertainty since it was announced Melbourne would move to stage 4 coronavirus restrictions.

The restrictions limit who can send their children to child care, with the Victorian Government saying that in Melbourne, only vulnerable children and those whose parents are "permitted workers" are allowed to attend.

Melbourne workers who still have a job can apply for a childcare permit
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said an Access to Child Care Permit would be set up for permitted workers to allow their children to attend.

"If you are a permitted worker, regardless of whether you are working in person or from home, and you attest that there is no-one else in your household that can look after your children, you will be able to … access child care," he said.

The Federal Government will provide "top-up" payments to centres in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, on top of transition payments being delivered across the country.

The top-up will see the transition payment for centres raised from 25 per cent to 30 per cent as a base.

Centres with less than half of their revenue coming from the childcare subsidy that see their attendance rate drop below 30 per cent will get extra.

In regional Victoria, the Federal Government will extend additional payments to before and after-school care.

Mr Tehan said the Federal Government did not believe there would be centres opening with zero children attending, despite the restrictions on who can send their children.

"What we want to do through this is incentivise centres to remain open, so, that is what this package is all about, is supporting centres to remain open," he said.

"From everything that we've heard through the consultations we've done with the sector, we don't think there will be cases where there are no children at centres," he said.

Mr Tehan said the announcement meant on average, centres in Victoria would be receiving between 80 and 85 per cent of their revenue compared to pre-pandemic levels.


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