The Australian Childcare Alliance (ACA) is a not-for-profit, member-funded organisation advocating for the future of Australia's children.
We work on behalf of long day care owners and operators to ensure families and their children have an opportunity to access affordable, high quality early learning services throughout Australia.

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ACA commends Australian Government's allowance of gap fee waivers in COVID-19 hotspots Australia-wide

On Monday 16th August the Department of Education, Skills & Employment (DESE) announced that early learning services in Commonwealth-declared COVID-19 hotspots that run for more than seven days (with no limit or conditions on attendance) can now waive gap fees for families who keep their children at home.

This means that parents in these specific areas can keep their children enrolled without having to pay for a service they are not using. Where services choose to waive gap fees, they will continue to receive the Child Care Subsidy.

ACA has been advocating for this allowance to apply nation-wide (in affected areas) for some time now in our ongoing engagement with Education Minister Alan Tudge.

Whilst we have commended the government for this decision, we are also calling for a tailored support package for our sector, knowing that service providers can only maintain their operations under these financial conditions for a limited time.

We want to support our struggling families but we also need to ensure that those ECEC services impacted by this scenario can survive the sudden and significant drop in income.

The latest announcement also means that if a state or territory government order only allows access to child care services  in particular circumstances, affected service providers can opt to waive the gap fee immediately

Such circumstances could include:

  • children who are vulnerable or disadvantaged
  • children whose parents can’t work from home
  • children of essential workers.

As these circumstances differ across jurisdictions, service providers should check their state or territory government website to see what applies to their region. ACA's State Bodies will also keep their members updated.

Service providers can check the DET website to see key dates for gap fee waivers and additional allowable absences for their region.

Families can also access additional allowable absences once a hotspot declaration period exceeds seven days. Allowable absences are backdated to the first day of the current lockdown.

Families experiencing a loss of income, such as casual workers or those in self-isolation, may also be eligible for support through the Additional Child Care Subsidy (temporary financial hardship).

Visit the COVID-19 information for the early childhood education and care sector webpage for advice and updates.

How can service providers know if they are in a Commonwealth-declared COVID-19 hot spot?
The Department of Education, Skills & Employment (DESE) will email service providers directly if they are in a COVID-19 hotspot.

Please ensure your contact details are up to date in the Child Care Subsidy System so you don’t miss important information. Update your details via the Provider Entry Point or your third-party software.

Services can also find out if they are in a Commonwealth-declared COVID-19 hotspot on the Department of Health website.

How can service providers know if they are in a State/Territory-declared COVID-19 hot spot?
The State/Territory Department of Education will email service providers directly if they are in a COVID-19 hotspot and if any particular conditions apply to the access of their families.