Federal Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, said the Coalition Government’s child care package would give families in New England hip pocket relief, while protecting child care jobs and ensuring the viability of local services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As Chair of the Small & Family Business, Employment, Education & Training Coalition Policy Committee, which works with the Minister for Education, the Hon Dan Tehan MP, in support of his work in the child care sector, it is a huge announcement. We want, as much as possible, to keep people in work in New England so that after COVID-19 has passed or substantially subsided, we can get the economy up and running again,” Mr Joyce said.
Under the plan, the Federal Government will pay services that remain open and do not charge families for care. 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, 2020.
Mr Joyce said the payment, combined with the $130 billion JobKeeper payment to keep employees in their jobs, would help ensure child care services in New England kept their doors open and workers employed.
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 will have to remain open and not charge families fees if they accept the Government’s payment. This will provide much-needed fee relief for families in the New England Electorate and ensure children can continue attending services and their parents can continue working,” Mr Joyce said.
“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 services in New England can access the payment to ensure the viability of their business, keep people in jobs and give families much-needed fee relief.
“Child care is so important right now as our nation confronts the twin challenge of the coronavirus and its economic impact.
Child care services in New England are a valuable part of our community, where our children come together to learn and play, giving time to families to work, study and volunteer.
“This package will help support families during these difficult times, particularly those who have lost their job and are doing it tough.
“The states and territories are looking at how to reduce the regulatory burden on child care services which will further help them to remain viable. Education Council and National Cabinet will address regulation this week,” Mr Joyce said.
The new system is expected to begin on 6 April, 2020 with payments to start flowing at the end of that 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 seeking health and situation information about COVID-19 should contact the 24/7 National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080.
Information is also available here.