Federal Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien has welcomed the Australian Government's child care package, saying it will ease pressure on family budgets, protecting child care jobs and ensure local services remain viable.
Under the plan, the Federal Government will pay services that continue to operate and do not charge families for care. This means working parents of children who were enrolled in childcare in the fortnight leading up to March 2 will receive childcare for free.
Services will receive payments based on 50 per cent of their average fees, up to a maximum of the hourly rate cap, based on enrolments in the fortnight before 2 March.
"This new child care package, combined with the $130 billion JobKeeper payment to keep employees in their jobs, will help ensure child care services in Wide Bay can keep their doors open and staff employed, so they are available when they are needed," Mr O'Brien said.
The Government will also:
- Allow childhood education and care services to waive out-of-pocket fees for families where the centre is open, but children aren't attending because of COVID-19.
- Provide $453.2 million for preschools in 2021 to support almost 350,000 children to attend preschool.
"Child care services need to remain open and not charge families fees if they accept the Government's payment," Mr O'Brien said.
"This will provide much-needed fee relief for families in Wide Bay, and ensures children can continue attending services and their parents can continue working and help our economy recover faster."
The current expert medical advice is that the child care sector should remain open except where individual services have been directed to close by health authorities.
"Child care and early education is always important, but particularly right now as our nation confronts the twin challenge of the coronavirus and its economic impact," Mr O'Brien said.
"The child care services in Wide Bay are a valuable part of our communities, where our children come together to learn and play, giving time to families to work, study and volunteer, and do all the things that are so important to keep our communities and our country running."
The new system is expected to begin on 6 April, with payments to start flowing at the end of the week. The system will be reviewed after one month, with an extension to be considered after three months. The payments will be paid in lieu of the Child Care Subsidy and Additional Child Care Subsidy payments.
Child care services information about COVID-19 should contact the 24/7 National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080. Information is also available from https://www.dese.gov.au/news/coronavirus-covid-19.