On 8 June 2020, the Government announced that the temporary Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package (the ‘Relief Package’) and Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment would cease on 12 July 2020. From 13 July 2020, the Government will resume the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) system and implement a transition measure.
In addition to CCS, from 13 July 2020 the Australian Government will provide a Transition Payment to all approved providers that previously received CCS and new providers that were approved during the Relief Package period. The same arrangements will apply to privately run services, those providers operated by state, territory and local governments, and not for profit providers. The weekly amount of the Transition Payment is equal to 25 per cent of the sum of all hourly fees charged (capped at the relevant CCS hourly rate cap) by the provider for sessions of care at its services during the reference fortnight, divided by two (to get a weekly amount). Transition Payments will be made for the period 13 July 2020 to 27 September 2020. To receive the payment, services must continue to employ those employees over the transition period who were working or being paid JobKeeper at the end of the Relief Package, and cap fees to the level in the relevant reference period. In addition, JobKeeper will cease from 20 July 2020 for employees of a CCS-approved service and for sole traders operating a child care service and for JobKeeper eligible business participants (including sole traders) operating a child care service.
The Government has released arrange of factsheets in relation to the Transition Payment that provide more information regarding how the Transition Payment will work, the grant agreement template and the process for submitting the Transition Payment Grant offer - please see the links below:
Family Day Care Australia (FDCA) has secured funding to engage Deloitte to develop independent guidance in relation to the equitable management and potential disbursement of the Transition Payments which will be available soon.
When will all the measures in the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package cease?
The following components of the Relief Package will no longer be in effect as of the following dates:
- applications for Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payments ceased on 20 June 2020
- Relief Package ceases on 12 July 2020
- the 62 initial absence days per child cease on 30 June 2020. There will be 42 initial absence days in the 2020/21 financial year
- With Child Care Subsidy recommencing from 13 July 2020, providers are obliged to recover gap fees as usual
- additional absence days to be claimed for COVID-19 related reasons without the need for medical evidence — ceases on 31 December 2020.
What arrangements will be in place when the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package ends?
From 13 July 2020, the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) and Additional Child Care Subsidy (ACCS) will recommence, along with a range of new measures to support the sector and its families through the transition, including a relaxed activity test for families and anew Transition Payment for providers.
To ensure Government support is appropriately targeted, JobKeeper will cease from 20 July 2020 for employees of a CCS approved provider and for sole traders operating a child care service. Employees include all staff within the organisation — including all educators, centre directors and managers, administration staff, cooks and cleaners.
In recognition that this is a transition period from the Relief Package, all approved early childhood education and care providers will receive a Transition Payment, instead of JobKeeper, for the period 13 July 2020 to 27 September 2020.
In addition, families who have had their hours of activity reduced as a result of COVID-19, will be able to advise Centrelink they meet the requirements to access 100 hours of subsidised child care per fortnight, for up to 12 weeks.
This can be done through their Centrelink online account through myGov or the Express Plus Centrelink mobile app from 13 July 2020.
These arrangements mean that from 13 July 2020, providers will once again receive CCS payments on behalf of families, and parents will return to making their co-contribution to child care fees.
From 13 July 2020, all requirements of Family Assistance Law apply.
Who benefits from the relaxed activity test requirements that apply during the Transition period?
From 13 July 2020 to 4 October 2020, individuals who can no longer engage in the same number of hours of work, training, study or other activity recognised by the Child Care Subsidy activity test immediately prior to the COVID-19 crisis, can advise Services Australia they meet the requirements to access 100 hours of subsidised child care, per child, per fortnight for up to 12 weeks.
This can be done through their Centrelink online account through myGov or the Express Plus Centrelink mobile app.
What is the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) hourly rate cap for the 2020-21 financial year?
The hourly rate caps are the maximum hourly rate used to calculate families’ CCS for each service type. The hourly rate caps are adjusted annually in accordance with CPI.
From 13 July 2020, the CCS hourly rate cap will increase to:
- $12.20 for Centre Based Day Care
- $11.30 for Family Day Care
- $33.17 for In Home Care
- $10.67 for Outside School Hours Care.
Read more information in the Child Care Subsidy rates from 13 July 2020 fact sheet. Please note that for the duration of the Transition Period providers must cap fees to the level of the relevant Relief Payment reference period. For most services this will be the fortnight beginning 17 February.
What do families need to do for their Child Care Subsidy (CCS) and Additional Child Care Subsidy (ACCS) to start again?
When the regular CCS arrangements resume from 13 July 2020, families will again need to pay the gap fee (the child care fee after Government subsidies).
Families who were getting CCS before 6 April 2020, won't need to do anything for their subsidy to start again, as long as they have remained eligible and enrolled. Their CCS will start again automatically on 13 July 2020.
If a family’s circumstances have changed (for example income level or contact information), they should update their details with Centrelink as soon as possible. This can be done through their Centrelink online account through myGov or the Express Plus Centrelink mobile app.
If a family was not previously accessing child care they should put in a claim for CCS as soon as possible. If families continue using child care from 13 July 2020 but aren't receiving CCS, they will need to pay full fees. Claims for CCS can only be backdated for up to 28 days from the day the claim is lodged.
Families who received CCS for 2018-19 and still haven't confirmed their income for that financial year must do so by 30 June 2020. If they don't, their CCS and ACCS will not start again on 13 July 2020.
Parents and their partners confirm their income with Centrelink by either:
It’s important to know that if a family’s CCS and ACCS stops they will not be back paid for the period between when it stops and when they confirm their income. Families will need to pay full fees during this time. There’s more information about time limits for confirming income for CCS on the Services Australia website.
Where families have trouble meeting these requirements, they can contact Services Australia to discuss.
How much CCS a family can get is based on their individual circumstances. You can find information about eligibility and how much CCS families can get on the Services Australia website.
How can eligible families get the 100 hours activity test result that is available during the Transition period?
Temporary changes to the Activity Test have been made to help families impacted by COVID-19 to get back into their workforce participation activities, for up to 12 weeks from 13 July 2020 to 4 October 2020.
During this period, families can access up to 100 hours of subsidised child care per fortnight where they now have a reduced number of hours of work, training, study or other recognised activity, compared to their activity level prior to COVID-19.
For example, prior to COVID-19, a single person worked 30 hours per fortnight, entitling them 72 hours per fortnight, but now works 15 hours per fortnight entitling them to 36 hours per fortnight. From 13 July 2020, this person can apply to Services Australia through their Centrelink online account through myGov or the Express Plus Centrelink mobile app and be entitled to 100 hours of subsidised care per fortnight.
This is also available for two-parent families, where one or both parents have reduced activity compared to their activity level prior to COVID-19, and both parents are still engaging in at least 8 hours of recognised activity per fortnight.
Am I still eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment during the Transition period?
As a result of the announcement of a return to the Child Care Subsidy System (CCSS) from 13 July 2020 and the commencement of Transition Payments,JobKeeper will cease from 20 July 2020 for employees of a CCS approved provider and also for sole traders operating a childcare service (including family daycare educators). The ATO has advised more information will be forthcoming soon about how this will work in practice. We will continue to update members when we have more detail.
As an educator, how do I access the payments being distributed under the new ECEC Relief Package?
The new base relief payments being made under the ECEC Relief Package are being paid as a lump sum weekly to services from 6 April. So in the first instance, contact your service co-ordination office. These payments are designed to assist services to stay open during the COVID-19 emergency. However it is currently up to the service as to how they distribute these funds to their educators.
FDCA recently commissioned Deloitte Australia to develop independent Practice Guidance for the distribution of funds under the ECEC Relief Package. This Practice Guidance has been distributed to members.
Many parents have now contacted me saying they want access to the free childcare announced by the Government. Do I have to accept new enrolments at this time?
In short, the answer is no. Services and educators are not compelled to accept new enrolments from families as a result of the new package. On this matter the Government has advised that under the new ECEC Relief Package “services must prioritise care to children of essential workers, vulnerable and disadvantaged children, and children who were previously enrolled. There is no obligation for services to take on new families, increase hours of care or re-enrol those that have withdrawn if services do not have enough staffing to provide care or cannot meet health and safety obligations. Prioritising of new children (if capacity exists) is a business decision.”
My doctor has advised I should close my FDC service temporarily due to COVID-19. What financial assistance is available to me?
This is a matter for discussion with your service. Payments to your service under the ECEC Relief Package should not be impacted if a single educator decides to not accept any enrolments. FDCA recently commissioned Deloitte Australia to develop independent Practice Guidance for the distribution of funds under the ECEC Relief Package. This Practice Guidance has been distributed to members.
If you wish to simply minimise your risk to exposure to COVID-19, you are able to, at your discretion, reduce hours and/or prioritise care to vulnerable children and children of essential workers. Again, talk to your service in the first instance to ensure they are aware of your particular circumstances.
What is the child care absence policy in response to COVID-19?
Whether a child is ill or not, including where a child does not attend care as part of the family’s own precautionary measure against potential contact with COVID-19, Child Care Subsidy (CCS) can be paid for up to 62 absence days per child, for the 2019–20 financial year, without the need for families to provide documentation.
Once a child’s 62 initial absences have been used, if more absences are required for COVID-19 related reasons, CCS can be paid for additional absences claimed without the need for medical evidence.
Absences will not be counted during the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package period (commencing 6 April 2020) as session reports will not be submitted. However educators and services are still required to record attendance.
What if a child is absent on their last day?
If a child is absent on their last day of enrolment in the period between 23 March 2020 and 28 June 2020 the child care subsidy amount which has been paid to the service will not be recovered from the service or the family.