The federal government will extend COVID-19 childcare support measures for another year.
The support measures, which allow for extra paid absences (52 days a year for each child in childcare), were due to expire at the end of this month.
Education minister Jason Clare and early childhood education and youth minister Anne Aly said the policy would continue beyond 30 June in a joint statement on Friday.
They said the extension was a ‘simple and sensible’ way to give parents and childcare providers certainty while infection rates remained high and children under five remain ineligible for the vaccine.
“This is just common sense. Keeping kids enrolled in childcare is good for them, good for families and good for the economy,” Clare said.
The decision means the childcare subsidy will remain in place for services, even as more services have to be suspended due to COVID-19 interruptions. A combination of pandemic factors as well as cost-of-living pressures, and workforces shortages have posed serious challenges for the sector over the last three years.
According to the federal government, COVID infections are causing 19 childcare services to close every day, making it difficult for employers and parents to plan ahead.
Aly said she was proud to be part of a government which prioritised education.
“Early childhood education is an investment in our children, our youth, and our future,” the minister said.
The extended measures will mean a government notice of a positive COVID-19 test can be used as evidence for extra paid absences.
Until June 30 2023, childcare services will be able to waive the gap fee and receive a government subsidy if a staff member falls ill leading to the closure of partial closure of the venue. The same allowances will apply if a child is absent because they or an immediate family member tests positive for COVID, and if they do not attend care because they are at higher risk of severe disease.