NSW childcare providers will be able to waive gap-fees for parents who are keeping their children at home due to the latest COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.
Prime minister Scott Morrison has announced that from July 19, gap-fees can be waived by childcares operating in affected NSW local government areas on the days that parents choose to keep their children at home.
The gap fee is the monetary difference between what the federal government pays for childcare through the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) scheme, and the remaining fee for childcare services paid by parents.
“When gap-fees are waived families will not have to pay any out-of-pocket costs for those days that their children are at home during the current stay at home period,” the PM said.
“This adds to the significant financial support we have already announced in conjunction with the NSW government to back families and businesses, and provide additional mental health support.”
The LGAs eligible for the gap-fee waiver include Bayside, Blacktown, Blue Mountains, Burwood, Camden, Campbelltown, Canada Bay, Canterbury-Bankstown, Central Coast, Cumberland, Fairfield, Georges River, Hawkesbury, Hornsby, Hunters Hill, Inner West, Ku-ring-gai, Lane Cove, Liverpool, Mosman, North Sydney, Northern Beaches, Parramatta, Penrith, Randwick, Ryde, Shellharbour, Strathfield, Sutherland Shire, Sydney, The Hills Shire, Waverley, Willoughby, Wollondilly, Wollongong and Woollahra.
According to the federal government, there have been calls from the childcare industry to implement the change since the NSW lockdown began a few weeks ago.
Before Thursday’s announcement, an existing measure was in place where gap fees could be waived if a childcare service was directed to close due to public health advice. This change extends the eligibility to NSW parents who want their child to remain at home in line with stay at home orders.
“Previous lockdowns show that even when child care remains open, there is an understandably strong preference to keep kids at home,” minister for education and youth Alan Tudge said.
“We are easing some of the pressure on families and encouraging them to keep their children enrolled, guaranteeing the continued flow of child care subsidy to service providers.”
Parents of childcare aged children who have lost income, because they are casual workers or in self-isolation, may also be eligible for support through the Additional Child Care Subsidy (temporary financial hardship).
Minister Tudge added that this new policy announcement would support the outside school hours care sector, which has been out of work since school children were learning from home.
“This opt-in measure ensures children remain enrolled in care and the Commonwealth childcare subsidy continues to flow to the centre, providing a valuable, stable and certain source of revenue during this time,” Tudge said.
“Importantly, this means providers can keep their staff employed so business can continue as usual when the stay at home orders end.”
Morrison said his government had provided about $3 billion to support the early childhood education and care sector during the pandemic.