COVID-19 information for the early childhood education and care sector

The Australian Government is working with the early childhood education and care sector to minimise the impact of COVID-19.  

On this page:

Updated 21 July 2021

Current restrictions

To find out about support in restricted areas, visit COVID-19 restrictions and the early childhood education and care sector

To check you are prepared for every contingency, visit our help in an emergency webpage. 

Absences

Families can get Child Care Subsidy (CCS) when their child is absent from a session of care they would normally attend for up to 42 days per financial year.

Families can access additional absences if we have declared a Local Area Emergency in their service’s Local Government Area.

Families can access additional absences once they have used their 42 allowable absences.

Gap fee waiving

Services directed to close by a local authority because of COVID-19 can waive gap fees until 31 December 2021. 

From Monday 19 July, child care services in NSW Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Greater Sydney subject to stay-at-home orders can waive gap fees for parents on days they choose to keep their children at home.

Services can choose to waive gap fees, either in full or partially, but are not required to. 

Charging practices are a business decision for individual services. Gap fee waiving applies only to families receiving Child Care Subsidy.  

Waiving gap fees helps families to maintain their enrolment so that services continue receiving CCS. 

Read more about the extra support given in NSW.

Health advice 

The current health advice is that services should continue to remain open unless otherwise directed, with risk mitigation measures in place. 

The Australian Government Department of Health has an online infection control training module that covers the fundamentals of infection prevention and control for COVID-19. 

Services are encouraged to download and display this COVID-19 poster as a reminder to families and staff to minimise the risk of COVID-19. 

For more information on safe hygiene practices to help stop the spread of COVID-19, contact your state regulatory authority or visit the Department of Health website. 

Service closures 

You need to tell us if you are temporarily closing your service, for any reason and for any period. 

You can do this via the Provider Entry Point (PEP) or your third-party software, rather than emailing us.

You also need to tell your state or territory regulatory authority.

Support packages 

The Australian Government implemented a Relief Package, Transition Package and Recovery Package to help the early childhood education and care sector manage the impact of COVID-19.  

Payments under these packages have ended. 

Relief Package 

6 April 2020 – 12 July 2020 

The Australian Government responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020 with the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package.  

A review found the Relief Package helped keep services open and viable, with 99% of 13,400 services operational as of 27 May 2020. 

Transition Package 

13 July 2020 – 27 September 2020 

The sector returned to Child Care Subsidy (CCS) with support from a Transition Package on 13 July 2020. 

In addition to CCS payments, approved providers received a 25% Transition Payment instead of JobKeeper Payments. 

Additional assistance was made available to services in Victoria affected by COVID-19 lockdowns. 

More details on the Transition Package are available in the Transition Payment Guidelines

Recovery Package 

28 September 2020 – 31 January 2021 

The Recovery Package included payments for services in Victoria and support for services at risk of imminent closure. 

For more information, see the Recovery Payment Guidelines.  

Information for families 

Families whose employment was affected by COVID-19 had access to extra CCS hours between 13 July 2020 and 4 April 2021. 

From 5 April 2021, CCS was again based on a family’s actual activity level each fortnight.  

Please ensure your families activity test details are current. 

Families experiencing financial hardship may be eligible for Additional Child Care Subsidy

Families can search for child care services near them through Starting Blocks or Child Care Finder

Reports 

We conducted a review of the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package in May to assess whether the package was meeting its objectives. 

The Australian Government undertook extensive consultation to help the sector navigate COVID-19. 

In August, we surveyed services about the Transition Package and parents about child care during COVID-19. 

Other resources 

Information for families – Keeping your child in care during COVID-19 

Stay in touch 

Update your contact details, particularly email addresses, in the Child Care Subsidy System so you don’t miss important information. Do this via the Provider Entry Point or through your third-party software. 

You can also subscribe to communications from us.