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How does COVID-19 free childcare work?

COVID-19: Childcare Centre Support

IMPORTANT: Updated Information
Information impacting childcare is being updated on a frequent basis. You can track the latest information here- COVID-19 Childcare Updates.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that childcare will become free for working parents and that childcare service providers will receive a Business Continuity Payment, providing much-needed relief amid the coronavirus crisis. Some key points of the announcement include:

  • Childcare will be free for parents who need it until June 28.
  • No Child Care Subsidy (CCS) or Additional Child Care Subsidy (ACCS) will be paid from April 6 onwards.

Childcare service providers should be aware of the following points:

  •  In lieu of CCS payments, the government will be paying a Business Continuity Payment (BCP) to childcare service providers from April 06, in a lump sum weekly payment.
  • In order to access the BCP funding, services must stay open but not charge any gap fee to parents during this time.
  • This payment will equal 50% of the hourly rate cap for all fees charged during the period of February 17 – March 02, and is based on the number of children who were in care during this period, regardless of whether or not they are attending services.
  • If services do wish to charge parents, they should be aware that the government will not be paying CCS or ACCS, and will charge families an unsubsidised fee.
  • Services must continue to record all bookings and attendance for enrolled children.
  • Children must still have a valid CCS enrolment, and services must still issue them through their CCS.

Until the payments come into effect, childcare services will be allowed to waive gap fees for families who are keeping their children at home. The payments will be coming directly from the government, and not the Commonwealth Childcare Subsidy. They will also be additional to the JobKeeper wage subsidy payments that are also being made to childcare centres by the government.

The payments will allow parents who cancelled their enrolment after the 17th of February to re-enrol so that a place can be held for their child in the future. Re-enrolling will not require you to send your child to childcare, or pay a gap fee.

The measures are expected to help parents who are continuing to work in essential industries. With there being 966,160  children enrolled in childcare centres at the start of the year (according to the Xplor Childcare 2020 report), these payments are sure to help hundreds of thousands of Australian families.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for childcare service providers

  •  When do I need to submit my session reports?
    Your final batch of session reports must be submitted by Sunday 5 April 11:59pm.
  •  How much will I be paid under the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package?
    Services will be paid 50% of the fees charged in the reference fortnight, up to the rate cap.
  • Will JobKeeper apply to my business as well?
    Businesses can receive the JobKeeper payment if their revenue has decreased by 30% (or 50% for businesses with a turnover greater than one billion dollars a year) as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most ECEC will be eligible under these guidelines.
  • What can I am still unable to provide care with this level of support?
    Services that require a higher level of support will soon be able to ask for a higher percentage of funding. A form will soon become available that will allow you to explain why the current funding is insufficient.
  •  What if there are now more children in my care than there were during the reference period?
    If you have more children in your care now than you did during the reference period, you can apply for a higher percentage of funding as described above.

For more information on what these changes mean for you as a childcare service provider or your parents, visit the Australian Government’s Child Care Package FAQs page.


Further information

  • Visit the COVID-19: Childcare Resources for latest news updates, understanding your responsibilities are to parents & children during the COVID-19 pandemic, when you should close your service, and how to get financial advice & assistance, and other key childcare-related information. 
  • Please visit the Department of Education, Skills and Employment Frequently Asked Questions for more information for providers and services and Coronavirus (COVID-19) for the latest education and training sector fact sheets.
  • The CCS Helpdesk is available to assist with information for services to help them manage the impacts on their business. Please email the CCS Helpdesk on ccshelpdesk@dese.gov.au, send in your query via an online form or call 1300 667 276 between 9.00 am — 5.00 pm (AEDST), Monday to Friday. 

Please make sure that if you are a child care provider or service you have subscribed to receive communications from the Department of Education, Skills and Employment.

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