Childcare centres forced to bar families due to COVID-19 restrictions will be eligible for additional funding under a plan announced by the Federal Government on Monday.
Childcare centres will be eligible for support covering up to 25 per cent of the centres’ pre-lockdown revenue, if they are subjected to lockdown restrictions.
After-school centres will be eligible for up to 40 per cent of their revenue, with the plan expected to cost between $40 million and $50 million a week, Education Minister Alan Tudge said.
The payments will kick in seven days after a hotspot is declared and will then be backdated, provided the state government has required parents to keep children at home.
In areas where families haven’t been directed to keep children at home, but which are still considered COVID-19 hotspots, the payments will be available four weeks after the hotspot is declared.
Payments are also contingent on services expecting attendance to fall below 50 per cent, and committing to maintaining staffing levels.
Businesses also can’t increase fees and must waive gap fees for all families whose children are not attending, while also not accessing other Commonwealth Government supports.
“Importantly the new payments are targeted to services that have seen attendance levels fall by at least 50 per cent and are conditional on centres keeping staff in work and passing on support for families,” Tudge said.
“The measures will encourage services to pass on gap fee waivers to parents, meaning those keeping their kids home during lockdown won’t be paying out‑of‑pocket costs when they aren’t using the service.”
Around 4,800 providers providing services to 380,000 families are expected to be eligible for the support.
“We will move to a permit system where only authorised workers will be able to send their kids to childcare and those who have vulnerable children,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said on Saturday.
“We have got to limit the number of kids that are in our child care centres. We have got to limit the amount of movement that is occurring that involves our smallest children.”