With lockdowns now in place in south-east Queensland and the Upper Hunter, in addition to Greater Sydney, targeted Commonwealth support is urgently needed for families and Early Learning and Care providers, including Long Day Care, Out-of-School-Hours Care and Family Day Care services.
While the Federal government announced short-term relief for families in Greater Sydney by enabling providers to waive the gap fee when children stay at home families in South-East Queensland and the Upper Hunter will only be entitled to fee relief after three full weeks of lockdown.
“This places financial pressure on providers that ultimately families will have to pay for either now, in paying for fees for a service they cannot use or through increased fees in the covid recovery,” The Parenthood Executive Director, Georgie Dent, said.
“It is just not appropriate or sustainable for providers or families to wear the financial cost. Thousands of parents in lockdown areas are doing the right thing and keeping their children home in a bid to keep the virus at bay. Having to pay full fees, often hundreds of dollars a week, for early learning and care that their children cannot attend isn’t acceptable.
“It is time for the Federal Government to step up and offer financial assistance that this critical sector deserves. Last year the Federal government acted quickly to support parents and early childhood education and care providers. We are at another crisis point and help is needed urgently.
“These are difficult times with many Australians and parents experiencing emotional and financial hardship. The Federal government needs to make sure parents are not being penalised for doing the right thing and keeping their children at home. And they need to give providers the financial support required for them to waive the gap fee from the start of a lockdown and to keep educators and staff employed."
“Waiving the gap fee means that providers forgo close to half of their revenue, while their costs are increasing to accommodate extra cleaning, extra PPE and leave costs for staff isolating. Many providers are predicting that they will have no choice but to recover the loss of revenue by increasing fees if the government does not give them financial support.
“The Parenthood is calling on the Prime Minister and the Education Minister to provide Commonwealth financial assistance as soon as possible.”