As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, we understand and appreciate that the immediate priority of most family day care services and educators at this time relates to what the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package ('the Package') means for them.
FDCA is working tirelessly with the highest levels of the Commonwealth Department of Education, Skills and Employment to represent the complex and unique interests of both family day care educators and services in these matters - please see here for a summary of some of the key points presented to the Department to date. We have contacted all state and territory Education Ministers, regulatory authority Executive Directors and the federal Education Minister to outline some of the key issues facing the sector with the Package as it stands based on feedback from members through various means (i.e. Facebook, email enquiries and the online smartform) and direct and ongoing consultation with the FDCA COVID-19 Advisory Committee - the correspondence can be read here.
We will engage formally with the Senate Select Standing Committee on the Economic Response to the COVID-19 pandemic as soon as the requisite mechanisms are in place; however, we have today engaged directly with one of the key Senate Committee members in order to ensure the issues facing the family day care are front of mind when the Committee commences.
While the Package represents a system that will not necessarily provide for parity with previous CCS remuneration mechanisms prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, if the various components are appropriately adjusted, the supplementary payment adequately caters for the unique nature of family day care services and educators, the JobKeeper payment is widely utilised, and best practice guidelines are utilised in the disbursement of payments, we will get through this crisis together. To this end, as detailed below, we have engage Deloitte to develop independent best practice guidelines in this area that will seek to protect the interests of both services and educators throughout this period.
Remain assured that we are with you, and constantly advocating for you, throughout this crisis and beyond.
The Supplementary Payment application form released today
We would like to advise services that the Department of Education, Skills and Employment ("the Department") will very soon publish the Supplementary Payment application form.
What is the Supplementary Payment and how to I prepare to apply?
The Supplementary Payment is available for providers who need a ‘top up’ on the Early Childhood Education and Care Package payment (base relief payment) the service is already getting through the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package. The supplementary payment is to help where the service has been significantly impacted economically as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic to make sure the service remains viable.
In preparing for your application for supplementary payment there are a number of circumstances that services must consider. As a general rule, services should assess the circumstances around service delivery as a whole during the reference week (i.e. the fortnight leading up to 2 March 2020) and now (i.e. the week commencing 6 April 2020).
Firstly, one of the most important considerations is whether your service and/or your educators are eligible for JobKeeper payments. The JobKeeper framework requires that educators, as sole traders, have an ABN. We are aware that some educators do not have an ABN and specific efforts continue around this issue. Current guidance indicates that, if educators within your service did not have an ABN before March 12th 2020 you should apply for $1,500 in supplementary funding for each educator that does not have an ABN. If you are successful with this component of your application, the amount would need to be passed on in full to the corresponding educator to assist in ensuring educators' business viability where not eligible for JobKeeper payments.
Additional considerations include, but are not limited to:
If an educator/educators or the service as a whole has seen increased attendance and/or enrolments from the reference fortnight (i.e. the fortnight prior to 2 March 2020) to the period following 6 April 2020
An educator/educators or the service as a whole saw reduced attendance/enrolments (such as children being pulled out of care as a precautionary measure) PRIOR to the reference week
If an educator/educators has had to close their business due to the public health advice or for other health and safety reasons PRIOR to the reference week
If an educator/educators were not providing care (or reduced care) in the reference week i.e. due to leave or sickness
If an educator/educators have been engaged after the reference period
If an educator/educators were delivering significant hours of non-standard hours of care and the standard BCP calculation does not account for this
The BCP entitlement plus JobKeeper payment does not accurately account for the amount of care being delivered by educators either by maintaining a high occupancy rate and/or delivering longer/more hours
Where a service experiences a higher demand for child care for children of essential workers and/or vulnerable and disadvantaged children from 6 April onwards
For more information on the Supplementary Payment and how your service can prepare to apply, please view our email bulletin that was sent to all member last night. To view the bulletin, click here.
To view the Department's factsheet on the Supplementary Payment, please click here.
Please note that the supplementary payment will be backdated to the date of application, so services are advised to apply as soon as possible.
I'm an educator - what should I do?
If you're an educator and you believe you some of the above issues apply to you, you should discuss this with your service and request that they make an application for supplementary payments referencing your situation, if they are not already doing so.
Please be assured that FDCA continues to advocate for a higher Business Continuity Payment through the supplementary payment process for family day care to account for the adequate remuneration of educators and the cost of administering the coordination unit for services across the board.
FDCA publishes COVID-19 information hub
FDCA has published a COVID-19 information hub with information specific to family day care educators and services. This page will allow members to easily find the latest information, support and resources available to family day care educators and services during the COVID-19 crisis. The hub includes:
a list of key advocacy points that FDCA has raised with the Department;
frequently asked questions, including general FAQs and FAQs specific to educators, services and relating to the National Law;
links to all FDCA bulletins sent to members regarding COVID-19, and;
additional links and resources relating to COVID-19.
We will update these pages as new information comes to hand. Please be aware that the situation is evolving rapidly.
To view the FDCA COVID-19 information hub, click here.
The Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package: What it means for you
Last Thursday 2 April, the Prime Minister, the Hon. Scott Morrison MP, announced a significant financial assistance package to support the child care sector through the COVID-19 pandemic.
We sent two bulletins to all members last week regarding this announcement. You can read the bulletins by clicking the links below:
FDCA obtains clarification on obligations under the NQF affected by COVID-19
On Tuesday 31 March 2020, FDCA CEO Andrew Paterson wrote to all state and territory regulatory authority Executive Directors and the ACECQA Executive in order to seek guidance and make recommendations in relation to a number of questions relating to obligations that fall under the Education and Care Services National Regulations and the Education and Care Services National Law that are currently or potentially affected as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. These were based on questions and feedback from members in a number of different areas.
This resulted in ACECQA promptly coordinating with all states and territories to assess the questions and develop nationally consistent responses and guidance through ACECQA CEO Gabrielle Sinclair responding to FDCA's questions on 3 April 2020.
FDCA commissions independent best practice guidance on business continuity payment disbursements
FDCA has commissioned Deloitte to analyse the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package (ECECRP), and develop:
a best practice guidance resource on models to support the equitable distribution of the BCP; and
an associated tool, based on the content of the guide, that will assist services in the calculation of educator BCP entitlements.
We know that the BCP and JobKeeper administration is relatively simple in other ECEC services, such as long day care. For the family day care model it is not as straightforward and as it stands it appears services will have significant discretion in how it distributes the funds.
With family day care it is not as simple as passing the 50% of fees accounted for under the BCP. Services derive their revenue from levies built into the hourly fee. Services will now need to determine what portion they will retain from the BCP payment levies. Given the intention of the package is to operate concurrently with Jobkeeper, if the service is eligible for JobKeeper they will receive payments for each service employee which impacts considerations in relation to levels of administration levies.
Given the complexity of the interactions of the payments, FDCA will expedite work with Deloitte and our COVID-19 Sector Advisory Committee to develop guidance that will seek to protect the interests of both services and educators throughout this period. FDCA will keep members informed of progress in this area as we appreciate the time sensitivity and importance of the matters.
National Family Day Care Week and National Engagement Program forums postponed
The COVID-19 pandemic is an immensely challenging time for us all. Throughout this unprecedented crisis, the team at FDCA are working hard every day to continue to advocate for broader support for the sector, both at a service and educator level and are working tirelessly to ensure the sector remains as strong as possible in these unprecedented times. The safety of you and your families remains at the forefront of what we do.
In light of this and following the recent restrictions put in place by state, territory and federal governments, we have made the decision to postpone all face-to-face events scheduled to take place before 30 June 2020. This includes National Family Day Care Week, which was scheduled to take place from 4-10 May 2020, as well as the Canberra and Perth National Engagement Program forums that were due to be held in April and May respectively.
We thank you for your understanding and support of these decisions. We hope to be able to announce new dates for these events later in the year, and as your national peak body we look forward to supporting and promoting the sector through these events.