Additional funding for early childhood sector welcome: ALGA

23 August, 2021

The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) has welcomed extra funding to help council-run early childhood education and care (ECEC) centres survive current lockdown restrictions.

As a result of advocacy by Australian local governments, from today, early education and care centres impacted by extended Covid-19 lockdowns in NSW, Victoria, and the ACT will be eligible for new fortnightly Commonwealth support payments on top of existing gap-fee waivers
introduced last week.

ALGA President Linda Scott last week wrote to the Federal Government seeking urgent financial support for local government early childhood education and care (ECEC) centres in NSW and Victoria severely impacted by stay-at-home orders and Commonwealth decisions on gap funding.

“Today’s support package announced by the Morrison Government will help local government early education and care centres remain open, supporting parents and our local communities,” Councillor Scott said.

“These are essential community services, caring for and educating our children and enabling parents to keep working in other front-line areas of need.

“They have helped support Australia through this pandemic, and they’ll be vital for our continued economic recovery, so we’re pleased the Federal Government has seen fit not to leave them financially vulnerable.”

The new payments will benefit childcare services in affected areas of Sydney and the ACT and out-of-school-hours care (OSHC) services in Metropolitan Melbourne.

All other services in Metropolitan Melbourne, regional Victoria, and regional NSW will become eligible after seven days of lockdown, with payments backdated to 23 August.

Payments will be contingent on services:
• expecting attendance below 50 percent;
• waiving gap fees for all families whose children are not attending;
• maintaining staffing levels;
• agreeing to a fee freeze for the duration of support; and
• not accessing other Commonwealth Government-funded supports.

The federal Department of Education, Skills and Employment is finalising details of the package, but payments are expected to be available to services in around two weeks.

“On behalf of local governments, ALGA looks forward to working with the Morrison Government to ensure the details of the support meet the needs of our communities,” Cr Scott said.

“We thank the Government for recognising the need for the local government early education sector’s sustainability to be shored up.”