Have your say: Transitional funding model for family day care
Yesterday we called on our members to have their say on the transition out of the ECEC Relief Package via a survey sent that was sent to all members via email bulletin.
The Package was scheduled to cease on 28 June 2020, with the provision for a possible three month extension.
The Hon Dan Tehan MP, Minister for Education, has given indications of the return to the Child Care Subsidy System as scheduled on 28 June 2020; however, this remains uncertain and there is a significant variance in opinion across the ECEC sector more broadly as to the way forward.
Given this uncertainty, we are seeking the input of members to ensure that the recommendations put forward to Government by FDCA are in the best interests and broadly representative of the views of the FDCA membership.
Significant social and economic disruption will likely continue throughout and beyond the transition and, as such, the ECEC landscape will be highly unpredictable. It is therefore necessary that the transitional model is agile, adequate and equitable for family day care.
Things are moving quickly and your feedback is essential - please be sure to complete the survey by 10.00am Friday 22 May 2020 (AEST).
To take the survey please see yesterday's bulletin.undefined
Second FDCA submission to the Senate Select Committee, COVID-19 (Australian Government’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic)
On Monday 18 May, FDCA made a second written submission to the Senate Select Committee on COVID-19. The Committee is the formal mechanism by which the Australian Government’s economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic is being scrutinized. This most recent submission focused specifically on the many failings of the Exceptional Circumstances Supplementary Payment program, as reported by our members, including:
- A significant and unreasonable lag in time between application and receiving an outcome
- Provision of inadequate feedback on unsuccessful applications; and
- An extremely low success rate for family day care services who have applied, indicating issues with the application structure, the administration or the rationale / threshold being applied to trigger approval and/or approval of applications.
Thanks to the feedback, data and evidence provided by our members through our 30 April online survey and subsequent call for additional evidence through our bulletin sent to members last Wednesday 13 May we were able to include in our submission detailed scenarios and case studies as well as some very specific questions.
Our submission succeeded in shining a spotlight on the gross inadequacies of the Supplementary Payment program for the family day care sector, which is compounding the financial strain and anxiety being caused by the impact of ECEC Relief Package as a whole. Many of the points we raised were mentioned in the Senate Select Committee hearing held on Tuesday 19 May, and a large number of the questions we put forward in our submission were put to representatives of the Department of Education, Skills and Training.
To view a copy of the submission, click here.
Thank you to the members who have supported us by providing the evidence we need to advocate effectively on your behalf.
ECEC Relief Package Four Week Review Summary Report
On Monday May 18 2020, the Australian Government released a Summary Report on the Four Week Review of the ECEC Relief Package. The Review was informed by available Government data, feedback and submissions from stakeholders and targeted consultations, and an online survey of ECEC service providers undertaken by ORIMA Research on behalf of the Department between 24 April and 4 May. The survey attracted 7,301 responses, representing approximately 55% of all ECEC service providers. Since the Summary Report was released, the Department has reported publicly that 219 (or around 49%) family day care services were among the respondents to the ORIMA survey.
The 6 page summary report can be accessed here. Key points are noted below:
- The report found that the ECEC Relief Package has succeeded in its objective of responding to severe reductions in attendance as a result of COVID-19 that were being experienced by a majority of ECEC services, necessitating an urgent response. For example, 31% of LDC services, which account for 58% of children in ECEC services, were reporting attendance had been cut by half, and a further 50% of these services experienced significant declines of between 20-50%. OSHC experienced an even more pronounced decline,with 77 % reporting attendance declined by more than 50 per cent.
- Nevertheless,the summary report does acknowledge, that the level of reduced attendance was varied across type of child care provision and that decreases in attendance were reported to a lesser extent by Family Day Care and In Home Care services,with only 21 per cent and 11 per cent of respondents in these service types respectively reporting decreases of over 50 per cent.
- The ECEC Relief Package, in combination with the JobKeeper Payment, was found to be successful in keeping services open and viable to provide early childhood education and care, with 99% of around 13,400 services operational as of 8 May 2020, with the majority (54%) of all respondents to the online survey considering that the Relief Package (together with JobKeeper) were helping services, at least to some extent, to: stay open (86% of services), remain financially viable (76%), retain staff (86%), provide child care to the children of essential workers and vulnerable children (87%) and keep children enrolled (80%).
- The Review has highlighted that COVID-19 and the ECEC Relief Package have impacted services differently due to the diversity of the sector and location of the service. The report noted there were pockets of dissatisfaction with the Relief Package among services that have maintained high attendance regardless of the impacts of COVID-19, and among services that are ineligible for JobKeeper, or experiencing a significant proportion of their staff being ineligible (such as recently engaged casuals, or temporary visa holders).
- The following areas were identified as requiring further consideration: a) issues impacting ineligibility for JobKeeper ; b) the need to shift focus to meeting growing demand as the economy opens up and schools return; c) intersection of growing demand with “free”childcare; and d) issues for particular service types, e.g. the large number of contractor family day care educators who were not eligible for JobKeeper, many as a result of issues with not having an ABN. However, the summary report made the observation that the ORIMA survey also occurred prior to the decision of Government (announced on 1 May) to provide extra financial support to non-government schools, not-for-profit organisations and educators from Family Day Care and In Home Care services which were not eligible for JobKeeper due to lack of an ABN.
- Stakeholders reported that while demand for child care is expected to increase significantly through May and June as the economy opens up and schools return, services cannot apply for Supplementary Payments until attendance exceeds reference period levels. This led to a call from some for an early return to the Child Care Subsidy system and/or increases to the relief payments. However, the report emphasises there is no sector wide consensus on this, and others wish the relief package to continue.
- Data from the ORIMA survey suggests that, across the sector, overall child care attendance rates remained well below capacity at approximately 63% of reference period levels. The report notes that this suggests there is still some movement required before demand returns to its pre-pandemic levels and places pressure on current funding settings.
- Finally,the Review found that any planning for refinements to the Relief Package should also consider planning for return to business as usual. It notes that the sector has widely called for four weeks’ notice to support transition back to the Child Care Subsidy system.
Playing IT Safe: A new early childhood online safety initiative
Earlier this week,the Australian Government announced the launch of ‘Playing IT Safe’, a new,free early childhood online safety education initiative.
Developed by the Alannah and Madeline Foundation, Playing IT Safe aims to help parents, carers and educators teach infants, toddlers and pre-school aged children basic technology and online safety concepts. The initiative includes an introduction to online safety education through preventative messaging, as well as a series of digital play-based and offline activities that children can undertake with educators in early learning environments, as well as at home with parents and carers.
For more information, and to access Playing IT Safe, visit playingitsafe.org.au.
Out and about at home
In each issue of JiGSAW magazine we share stories of educators and children who have been on exciting excursions and adventures. Despite COVID-19 keeping us at home, many educators have not let this stop them from taking their children on exciting adventures while in family day care.
Have you hosted a creative incursion for the children in your care? Maybe you visited one of the virtual zoos available around the globe or ran an ‘around the world’ treasure hunt in the backyard?
If you have an exciting story of getting ‘out and about at home’ and would like it to be featured in the upcoming winter edition of JiGSAW magazine, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how you could be featured.
FDCA COVID-19 information hub
To help members stay up to date with the latest information on the COVID-19 crisis we have developed a COVID-19 information hub with information specific to family day care educators and services.
The hub contains information, support links and resources available to family daycare educators and services during the COVID-19 crisis.
The hub includes:
- frequently asked questions, including general FAQ’s and FAQ’s 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 continue to update these pages as new information comes to hand. Please be aware that the situation continues to evolve rapidly.
To view the FDCA COVID-19 information hub, click here.