Sydney families face a huge spike in early learning and care fees if Commonwealth financial support is not extended to providers.
With the Greater Sydney lockdown extended for at least another four weeks, the Parenthood is calling for urgent Federal financial support to help early childhood education and care providers.
While the Federal government announced short-term relief for families by enabling providers to waive the gap fee when children stay at home, this places financial pressure on providers that ultimately families will have to pay for.
“Waiving the gap fee essentially means that providers forgo close to half of their revenue, while their costs are increasing to accommodate extra cleaning, extra PPE, leave costs for staff isolating and extra staff costs to maintain social distancing to remain open for essential workers,” The Parenthood Executive Director, Georgie Dent, said. “With absences around 70% in the most affected LGAs, and around 30% across the rest of Sydney, over an 8 week lockdown, the cost of absorbing that loss will accumulate beyond a level that providers can reasonably absorb.”
Many providers are not entitled to existing NSW and Commonwealth support.
“To break even many providers will have no choice but to recoup the loss of revenue by increasing fees,” Dent said. “That means families in greater Sydney will face a huge spike in fees later this year if financial assistance isn’t extended to early learning services immediately.
“Parents and carers in Australia have already experienced a 10% surge in fees for early learning and care in just two years.”
The Government is now predicting an economic downturn in Sydney that is likely to see providers come out of lockdown with far fewer children enrolled as lots of families will lose jobs which was the experience in Melbourne last year.
“Given the increasing financial pressure on families as a result of the economic ramifications of the extended lockdown, the status quo is not sustainable for providers, educators or parents. This threatens the sustainability of early childhood education and care, as well as the employment and security of early educators.”
“Early learning and care is an essential service that provides critical support to families and parents who cannot keep their children at home because of the nature of their work, as well as for vulnerable children.”
The Parenthood is calling on the Prime Minister and the Education Minister to provide Commonwealth financial assistance to enable providers to be able to continue funding the fee waiver.