The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented and immensely challenging time for all. During this time it is essential that key stakeholders and governments work together in a coordinated and collaborative way to develop pragmatic solutions to the many and varied challenges being faced.
Since my message last week we have worked tirelessly to refine and adapt our positions to this rapidly evolving crisis and to be responsive to the changing needs of the sector, children and families.
Late last week we made a formal submission to the federal Education Minister, The Hon Dan Tehan MP, along with all state and territory Education Ministers, Commonwealth, state and territory governments, and the federal opposition.
The brief has been formulated in consultation with our COVID-19 Sector Advisory Committee and is informed by the many pressing issues that have been raised with us. We are extremely mindful of the incredibly delicate balance between protecting your health and wellbeing and, protecting your livelihood; we are confident that we have achieved that balance in our proposals.
Throughout this crisis, we continue advocating for:
Protecting the health and wellbeing of services, educators, children and families
Protecting the ongoing viability of the sector to support economic rebuilding post COVID-19
Activating and increasing capacity (where appropriate) to provide ongoing care provisions for essential services
I can also let you know that over recent weeks we have been fielding a number of questions from members who have been doing their best to remain compliant and operational to support children and families across Australia during the COVID-19 emergency.
In order to support our members, yesterday I put forward a series of questions to all state and territory regulatory authorities in a bid to, where possible, seek national consistency and guidance on a number of these issues. These questions also included a range of proposed short-term solutions from Family Day Care Australia (FDCA).
To view the questions that were put forward to the regulatory authorities, as well as FDCA’s proposed solutions, click here.
I know that in times of crisis family day care often stands on the front line in support of children and families. You have demonstrated this time and again. Please know that this is not the expectation, nor should it be, but often it is just in your nature. Many of you are supporting essential services workers to do what they can to fight this crisis. Thank you. Do what you can, where you can, but please, take care of yourselves and your families.
Remain assured that we are with you, and here for you through these challenging times.
COVID-19 information from the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment
The Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) has published information on COVID-19 designed to assist parents, educators and job-seekers find the information they need to make informed decisions about managing risks associated with COVID-19.
This page includes an information sheet for early childhood education and care providers that covers:
periods of local emergency;
Community Child Care Fund Special Circumstances Grant Opportunity;
who to contact and where to find more information, and;
answers to some frequently asked questions.
Please regularly check the DESE website to help ensure that you are using the latest information.
The new JobKeeper Payment: What it means for you
On Monday 30 March 2020, the Australian Government announced a $130 billion JobKeeper Payment scheme that is designed to keep more Australians in jobs through the course of the Coronavirus outbreak.
The scheme is a temporary measure open to businesses impacted by the Coronavirus outbreak so they can continue to pay their employees. This assistance is designed to keep people in their jobs and help the economy re-start quickly when the crisis is over. The JobKeeper Payment will also be available to the self-employed and sole traders. FDCA has continually advocated for the inclusion of sole traders and self-employed in measures to address the economic impact of the coronavirus, given educators own their own businesses. FDCA commends the Australian Government for listening to our requests and taking action.
Please note that legislation to enact the JobKeeper Payment scheme is yet to pass Parliament. This means that many of the finer details about the operation of this scheme are not yet public.
For more information about the JobKeeper Payment scheme please view the bulletin that we sent to service members on Tuesday.
Rest assured FDCA remains in constant contact with the relevant government agencies and is closely monitoring the situation and will provide updates when we have new information. In the meantime, FDCA encourages services and educators to check in with their accountant on questions of financial turnover, as each situation is different.
For more information, please view the educator or service bulletin that was sent on Tuesday.
FDCA CEO Andrew Paterson leads live information session for family day care
Last Friday, 27 March, FDCA CEO Andrew Paterson led a live information session facilitated by Early Childhood Australia . The live webcast discussed COVID-19, the impact the pandemic has had on the family day care sector and what support is available to family day care educators and services at this time.
Free resources and live streams available to keep the children entertained
Throughout this difficult time, FDCA hopes to be able to spread some happiness to educators, children and families.
FDCA will be publishing free resources that are available to educators and families, designed to keep children entertained and educated throughout this time. These will be shared on FDCA’s Facebook page and include live streams of zoos, celebrity storybook readings and more. We have already shared information on the Australian Reptile Park’s free daily live streams of animal feeds, play times and educational videos, available here.
This afternoon we will be sharing information on Zoos Victoria’s free live streams of animal enclosures, which includes lions, penguins and giraffes! This will be available here.
To help explain what's happening at the moment, ABC Kids Community will also be presenting a special episode of Play School to explain COVID-19 to young children. This will be available on Facebook on Thursday 2 April at 4pm AEDT. We will share this on the FDCA Facebook page also.