Scott Morrison has announced that parents who are classed as ‘essential workers’ will temporarily receive FREE childcare during the coronavirus crisis.
The Prime Minister revealed that the government will pay 13,000 childcare centres across the nation 50% of their fee revenue, but the centres must stay open and not charge parents.
The scheme is set to last for three months and could benefit around one million families. This move is set to cost the government $1.6 billion.
Childcare is now free for essential workers in Australia
Mr Morrison addressed the media today stating: “If you have a job in this economy then that is an essential job.
“In terms of running of the economy and it is important that all of those parents who have children, that they get access to the childcare and those facilities will be there for them in the many months ahead.
“The education minister will take you through the specifics, but what we will be doing is we will be ensuring for those parents who are still in that position where they are needing that childcare, it will be free.”
What classes as an essential worker?
Doctors and nurses will take precedent if places fill up, states Education Minister Dan Tehan.
“We want people to understand that the priority will be given to those who need to be working. The priority will be given to those who can’t care for their children,” he said.
“The way it will work is that we will look at what 50% of the fees up to the rate cap were in the fortnight before 2nd March and we will pay you that amount on a fortnightly basis.
“We will also make sure that it it is calibrated with JobSeeker. Now, 60% of the costs of a childcare centre are the wages.
“So with JobKeeper, we are helping to support the sector to the tune of over $1 billion. With this payment, we will be helping the sector to the tune of $1.6 billion and this will ensure the sector to make sure that they remain open and are providing this care for parents for free.”
“If you have a job in this economy then that is an essential job”
Meanwhile, the PM reiterated what being an essential worker meant.
“It can be essential in a service, whether it’s a nurse or a doctor or a schoolteacher, or a public servant who is working tonight to ensure that we can get even greater capacity in our Centrelink offices, working until 8[pm] under the new arrangement in the call centres – these are all essential jobs,” he said.
“People stacking shelves – that is essential. People earning money in their family when another member of their family may have lost their job and can no longer earn – that’s an essential job.
“If you have a job in this economy then that is an essential job, in my view, in terms of the running of the economy and it is important that all of those parents who have children, that they get access to child care and those facilities will be there for them in the many months ahead.”
The new legislation will come into affect next week
“The old system was drafted for a pre-pandemic time,” says Mr Tehan.
“We’ll be moving to a different childcare system as of Sunday night. It will be a system that will mean parents will get their child care for free.
“Can I say to all of those parents: what we want to do by doing this is ensure your childcare centre will remain open so that where you normally take your child to get cared for, that will be there for you so you are not looking to have to go to a new centre.”
Conditions childcare centres must adhere to
Mr Tehan revealed there are some conditions for daycare centres to receive government support.
“The centre must remain open. It must provide care for those parents who need their children cared for,” he said.
“They must also seek to re-enrol those parents who might have dropped off. So if they need care, they can get that care as well.
“To help and assist with that, we are back dating to 23rd March the requirement that the sector must pursue from parents a fee.
“So we are waving the gap fee for parents going back to the 23rd March. So the hope is that now all parents who need will get the care they want and those who have sought to disengage from the childcare sector will re-engage with the sector.”
The childcare sector has been struggling to remain afloat in recent weeks, with many parents opting to pull their kids out of daycare.
Some parents have lost their jobs or may be working reduced hours and can no longer afford it.
Childcare centres rely on a mix of payments from the Federal Government and parents, so with parents pull their kids out, it’s faced a massive loss.
Hopefully these measures will help daycare workers now keep their jobs.
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