Free childcare ends on July 12. The scheme was introduced during the federal governments announcements of its various economic stimulus packages in April. The aim was to keep childcare providers afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.
The changes announced by Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan today will see the scheme coming to an end on July 12.
But it is not all doom and gloom for this important sector. There will be another three-month, $700 million support package Childcare Subsidy, to be offered to the childcare sector from the following day.
This will reintroduce childcare subsidies for parents. The government will also end the JobKeeper payment for those working in the childcare sector.
From July 13, parents will pay for their children’s care, with the reintroduction of the Child Care Subsidy, but the Government will ease the eligibility criteria for subsidised care for those families who were hit by the economic downturn.
“The Government will also ease the activity test until October 4 to support eligible families whose employment has been impacted as a result of COVID-19,” Mr Tehan said.
“These families will receive up to 100 hours per fortnight of subsidised care during this period.”
While the government will end the JobKeeper payment for workers in the childcare sector, it will bring in a $708 million transitional support package, which will require employment levels be guaranteed to protect staff coming off of JobKeeper.
Those applying for the new transitional funding, will have to ensure that the childcare fees are capped at the level they were at in late February 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world.
This transitional funding has been budgeted to last until September 27.
The free childcare policy was introduced with the goal of continuing the essential service of childcare at the height of the pandemic. Mr Tehan feels it is no longer needed.
“What we have seen is demand grow and grow over the last few weeks so that we needed to change the system,” Mr Tehan said.
“This system was designed for when demand was falling. Now we are seeing demand increasing.”
Experts believe with free childcare coming to an end, there may be softening of demand in the sector. When asked, Mr Tehan said he could not guarantee demand would not shrink as free child care ended on July 12.
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