Early Childhood Education and Care COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

As at 27 May 2020

On 2 April 2020, the Prime Minister and Minister Tehan announced the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package which supports sector viability and ensures that the children of essential workers and vulnerable and disadvantaged children are able to access quality education and care arrangements during the COVID-19 emergency.

The Relief Package complements a wider range of initiatives already announced by the Australian Government, including the JobKeeper Payment measure.

To receive Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package payments a service must remain open, unless directed or advised to close by a health agency or state regulator and prioritise care to children of essential workers, vulnerable and disadvantaged children and children within existing enrolments.

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Information for families

What are the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package payments?

The payments under the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package support child care services (including Centre Based Day Care, Family Day Care, Outside School Hours Care and In Home Care). Due to the impact of COVID-19, the early childhood education and care sector has reported significant decreases in attendance and enrolments. These payments will ensure services can remain open, and families who need it can access care.

The payments are made in lieu of any Child Care Subsidy and Additional Child Care Subsidy.

What conditions must be met by services to receive payments?

The service must meet a number of conditions to continue to receive these payments. 

These conditions include:

  • that the service remains open and provides sessions of care to at least one child, unless closed on public health advice or advice of a state regulatory authority for COVID-19 health and safety reasons 
  • families and carers are not charged fees relating to sessions of care provided to children during the period the service receives the payments 
  • priority of access is given to children of essential workers, vulnerable and disadvantaged children; and previously enrolled children; and
  • the service must comply with all other Family Assistance Law and National Law obligations.

Additionally, services must not increase these fees for the duration of the Relief Package, and must not add any new fees that were not listed in a family’s Complying Written Agreement prior to 6 April 2020.

It should be noted that Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package payments are discretionary payments under Family Assistance Law, and failure to comply with the conditions can result in the payments being reduced or suspended.

Do services have to accept new enrolments and increased attendance where parents request it?

Services are required to prioritise care to children of essential workers, vulnerable and disadvantaged children and children with existing enrolments as part of the conditions of the Relief Package. Where services choose to accept new enrolments and increase attendance where parents request it, they are able to apply for Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payments to meet the demand for child care up to their service’s full capacity taking into account staff, resources and health and safety issues.

Families and services can report concerns about services not adhering with the conditions of the Relief Package to the department by phoning 1800 664 231 or by emailing tipoffline@dese.gov.au. For example, if a family believes a service has capacity to provide more care but is electing not to do so, or that a service is not prioritising essential workers in offering that care, they can and are contacting this line.

Can my service change their service offering in relation to meals, nappies or late fees?

The intent of the weekly payments is to enable access to free child care for families of the priority groups like essential workers, during the COVID-19 crisis. 

While services receive payments under the Relief Package, they should not be changing their service offer and/or increasing or adding new administrative fees.

The usual service offering generally includes consumable items such as meals, wipes, or art supplies as part of the cost of providing a session of care. For example, if nappies were included as part of the session fee your service usually provided, nappies should continue to be provided without any extra cost to families.

Some services also charge administrative fees. These fees do not form part of the session of care fee that a family’s Child Care Subsidy was calculated on, meaning that services can continue to charge administrative fees, for example, late pick-up fees. However, services are not to increase these fees for the duration of the Relief Package or add new ones that were not listed in a family’s Complying Written Agreement.

The department can take compliance action against services not meeting the conditions of the payments. Information about such practices can be directed to the department’s tip off line 1800 664 231 or emailing tipoffline@dese.gov.au

Do both parents/carers need to be essential workers to be given priority access?

No. As long as one parent is an essential worker their child/ren should be prioritised for care.  

What if I am working from home?

Care should still be made available where parents or carers are working from home noting that priority of access must be given to children of essential workers, vulnerable and disadvantaged children, and previously enrolled children.

What can I do if my service is refusing care for my child?

The Government is relying on services to provide care to as many children as they can, giving priority to essential workers, vulnerable and disadvantaged children and previously enrolled children.

However, each service is dealing with new circumstances and having to reconsider available staff, health and other business challenges. This means each service has to make decisions on its own capacity to offer care, based on these new considerations.

While repeated, serious breaches of conditions of the Relief Package may result in a service losing access to payments under the Relief Package, the significant impact of COVID-19 on operating arrangements will mean some services will not be able to continue to offer the same care to all families. 

Where services have increased demand and feel they cannot afford to meet it based on current levels of support, an Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment is available. This means if a service has more children attending now than it had during the reference period it can apply to receive a higher payment.

If you are an essential worker with need for increased care hours, and have been refused by your service, you can contact the department’s tip off line on 1800 664 231 or emailing tipoffline@dese.gov.au.  

Is there any extra support for families to help them find an early childhood education and care service during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Yes. A national toll free helpline has been set up to assist parents and carers to find an early childhood education and care service during the COVID-19 pandemic. Families can call the helpline on 1800 291 041 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (AEST), Monday-Friday (excluding public holidays).

Helpline operators will provide advice for families about early childhood education and care services available in their area during the pandemic.

Families, including essential workers and those with vulnerable children, can also search for early childhood education and child care services online using Starting Blocks or Child Care Finder.

The Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) is delivering the helpline on behalf of the Department of Education, Employment and Skills. For more information, visit ACECQA.

What should I expect when commencing a new enrolment?

The process for families to enrol their child in a child care service has not changed with the introduction of the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package payments.

Your child care provider will help you to enrol your child under the care arrangement that best suits your circumstances. For the majority of families there are three types of care arrangements available:

  • Complying Written Arrangementfor families who intend to receive Child Care Subsidy or Additional Child Care Subsidy once the Relief Package payments cease. 
  • Relevant Arrangementfor families who would otherwise not be eligible for Child Care Subsidy or Additional Child Care Subsidy.
  • Organisation Arrangementif a third party pays your child care fees.

To help your provider enrol your child, it is particularly important you provide the correct Customer Reference Number (CRN) and date of birth for both yourself and your child. 

For any kind of arrangement, your child care provider will submit an enrolment notice, and you will receive a notice from Services Australia requesting you review and check the enrolment details. 

This can be done in your Centrelink Online account through myGov or the Centrelink Express Plus mobile app.

Where can I find COVID-19 information on preschool and kindergarten?

Preschool is primarily a state and territory responsibility and preschool systems vary across jurisdictions. Because of this, preschool-related information in the context of COVID-19 is provided at a state and territory level. More information for families and parents of preschool and kindergarten children is available at Universal Access to Early Childhood Education.

Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package–information for providers and services

What is the new child care payment under the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package?

The new payment under the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package is a payment to support child care services (including Centre Based Day Care, Family Day Care, Outside School Hours Care and In Home Care) to remain open. Due to the impact of COVID-19, the early childhood education and care sector has reported significant decreases in attendance. These payments will ensure services can remain open, and families who need it can access care.

Weekly payments will be approximately 50 per cent of services' fee revenue or 50 per cent of the existing hourly rate cap, whichever is lower, for sessions of care in the fortnight preceding 2 March 2020 (i.e. Monday 17 February 2020 through to 28 February 2020).

The payments for services providing vacation care only will be calculated on the equivalent of the average weekly amount for the vacation period between Term 3 and Term 4 in 2019 (September-October school holidays).

The payments are made in lieu of any Child Care Subsidy and Additional Child Care Subsidy.

Receiving these payments does not preclude your service from accessing other Government initiatives to support businesses.

Will the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package payments be an ‘opt-in’ measure or are all services required to participate?

Providers can choose to opt out of receiving the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package payments for one or more of their services. The service/s for which the provider has opted out, will not receive payments under the measure or Child Care Subsidy/Additional Child Care Subsidy payments. Providers will need to give notice of the voluntary suspension of Child Care Subsidy approval for any of its services. Providers can do this by writing to their state assessment team and providing the following information:

  • the full legal name and trading name of the provider
  • the unique provider approval number
  • for each service for which the provider requests a suspensionthe unique service approval number
  • the reasons why the provider is requesting a suspension
  • the desired period of the suspension
  • the name and contact details for the provider’s representative in respect of the request.

What do I have to do to receive the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package payment?

In order to receive the payment you must:

  • remain open and provide sessions of care to at least one child, unless closed on public health advice or advice by a State Regulatory Authority for COVID-19 health and safety reasons
  • ensure families are not charged a fee, including an out of pocket or gap fee for sessions of care provided
  • continue and prioritise care to essential workers, vulnerable and disadvantaged children and previously enrolled children
  • continue to record attendance of children
  • where children enrol at a service who otherwise would be considered ‘at risk’ for the purposes of Additional Child Care Subsidy (ACCS) (child wellbeing), services are required to make a referral to an appropriate support agency as per the existing ACCS (child wellbeing) referral requirements
  • comply with all other provider obligations including the National Quality Framework and other relevant conditions of approval under Family Assistance Law.

You do not need to apply. Payments will be made automatically on a weekly basis unless otherwise notified by the department.

How will I receive the payment?

The payment will be paid into your child care service bank account. This is the same bank account that Child Care Subsidy is currently paid into.

What is the calculation method for payments under the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package?

The payment will be based on a reference fortnight, and calculated as 50 per cent of the lesser of:

  • the hourly fee for the session of care; or
  • the relevant Child Care Subsidy hourly rate cap.

The reference fortnight is as follows:

  • For an Outside School Hours Care Service that provides only vacation carethe fortnight starting on the first Monday of the school holidays between school Term 3 and Term 4 in 2019 in the state or territory in which the service is located.
  • For all other services, it is­ the fortnight starting 17 February 2020.
  • Where a service charged fees for only one week of care during the fortnight starting
    17 February 2020, or in the school holidays between Terms 3 and 4 in 2019, the amount will be calculated on the week in which care occurred and the amount doubled.

Example

A Centre Based Day Care (CBDC) service charges $100 for a 10 hour session of care. Therefore, their hourly fee is $10 per hour ($100 ÷ 10 = $10). As $10 is less than the CBDC hourly rate cap of $11.98, $10 is the amount used.

On the fortnight starting 17 February 2020, the CBDC service had 20 children attending the service. Each child attended 10 sessions of care for the fortnight (or five per week) and were charged $100 for a ten hour session (meaning the hourly fee was $10). For that fortnight, the service’s total fees charged were $20,000 (or $10,000 per week).

The payment this service will receive is worked out below:

  • the hourly payment is $5 ($10 x 50% = $5)
  • $5 hourly payment x 10 hour session = $50 payment per session
  • $50 x 20 children x 5 sessions per week = $5,000 paid per week.

The 50 per cent calculation is derived from a two week period, but paid weekly. Is the first week payment derived from the 1st sample week and the second week payment derived from 2nd sample week, or is it averaged for the sample fortnight and split out for the weekly payment?

The reference fortnight is as follows:

  • For an Outside School Hours Care Service (OSHC) that provides only vacation carethe fortnight starting on the first Monday of the school holidays between school Term 3 and Term 4 in 2019 in the state or territory in which the service is located.
  • For all other servicesthe fortnight starting 17 February 2020.
  • Note: where a service charged fees for only part of the fortnight starting 17 February 2020, or in the school holidays between Terms 3 and 4 in 2019, an Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment will be made in accordance with these rules.

For example

  • An OSHC service that operates in New South Wales provides only vacation care. Therefore, their reference period is 30 September 2019 to 13 October 2019.

For example

  • An OSHC service provides both vacation care and before and after school care. Their reference period is from 17 February 2020 to 1 March 2020.

For example

  • An OSHC service operating in New South Wales providing only vacation care, charged fees for one week in the school holiday period between Terms 3 and 4 in 2019. However, the reference fortnight for the service does not change, meaning that the base weekly amount for the provider of the service that is calculated under the Rules, would be effectively half of the amount it would be if the service had operated for the full reference fortnight, instead of only one week. However, the provider of the service will receive an Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment to adjust for the week.

The payment amount will be determined based on the total fees charged by the service during a reference fortnight and the reference hourly fee (up to hourly rate cap) for a session of care.

For example

On the fortnight starting 17 February 2020, a Centre Based Day Care service (CBDC) had 20 children attending the service. Each child attended 10 sessions of care for the fortnight (or five per week) and were charged $100 for a 10 hour session (meaning the hourly fee was $10). This example assumes that all of the children were charged the same amount for the same session lengths. For that fortnight, the service’s total fees charged were $20,000 (or $10,000 per week).

The payment this service will receive is worked out below:

  • the service’s hourly reference fee is $10 (because it is lower than the CBDC hourly rate cap)
  • $10 hourly fee x 50 per cent = $5 paid per hour
  • $5 x 10 hour session = $50 paid per session
  • $50 x 20 children x 5 sessions per week = $5,000 paid per week.

For example:

On the fortnight starting 17 February 2020, a CBDC service had 20 children attending the service. Each child attended 10 sessions of care per fortnight (or five per week) and was charged $130 for a 10 hour session (meaning the hourly fee was $13). This example assumes that all of the children were charged the same amount for the same session lengths. For that fortnight, the service’s total fees charged were $26,000 (or $13,000 per week).

The payment is worked out below:

  • the service’s hourly reference fee is $11.98 (because their hourly fee is above the CBDC hourly rate cap at $13)
  • $11.98 x 50 per cent = $5.99 paid in business continuity per hour
  • $5.99 x 10 hour session = $59.90 paid in business continuity per session
  • $59.90 x 20 children x 5 sessions per week = $5,990 paid to the service per week.

The reference fortnight is as follows:

  • For an OSHC service that provides only vacation carethe fortnight starting on the first Monday of the school holidays between school Term 3 and Term 4 in 2019 in the state or territory in which the service is located.
  • For all other servicesthe fortnight starting 17 February 2020.
  • Note: where a service charged fees for only one week of care during the fortnight starting 17 February 2020, or in the school holidays between Terms 3 and 4 in 2019, an Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment will made in accordance with these rules.

For example:

  • An OSHC service that operates in New South Wales provides only vacation care. Therefore, their reference period is 30 September 2019 to 13 October 2019.

For example:

  • An OSHC service provides both vacation care and before and after school care. Their reference period is from 17 February 2020 to 1 March 2020.

For example:

  • An OSHC service operating in New South Wales providing only vacation care, charged fees for one week in the school holiday period between Terms 3 and 4 in 2019. However, the reference fortnight for the service does not change, meaning that the base weekly amount for the provider of the service that is calculated under the Rules would be effectively half of the amount it would be if the service had operated for the full reference fortnight, instead of only one week. However, the provider of the service will receive an Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment to adjust for the week.

The reference hourly fee for a session is 50 per cent of the lower of:

  • the hourly fee for the session; or
  • the relevant Child Care Subsidy hourly rate cap.

For example:

  • a CBDC service charges $100 for a 10 hour session of care. Therefore, their hourly fee is $10 per hour ($100 ÷ 10 = $10)
  • The CBDC hourly rate cap is $11.98
  • The reference hourly fee is the hourly fee ($10) because it is lower
  • 50 per cent of the hourly session fee is $5 ($10 x 50 per cent = $5).

For example:

  • a CBDC service charges $130 for a 10 hour session of care. Therefore, their hourly fee is $13 per hour ($130 ÷ 10 = $13)
  • The CBDC hourly rate cap is $11.98
  • The reference hourly fee is the CBDC hourly rate cap ($11.98) because it is lower
  • 50 per cent of the hourly reference fee is $5.99 ($11.98 x 50 per cent = $5.99).

Can I ask for a different reference period for my payments to be based on? 

No, but a service can seek Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payments in exceptional circumstances.

How do we respond to families who had previously taken their children out of care for health and safety reasons who now wish to return their child to care?

Under the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package, services must prioritise care to children of essential workers, vulnerable and disadvantaged children, and children who were previously enrolled.

Where services choose to accept new enrolments and increase attendance where parents request it, they are able to apply for Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payments, where the current level of attendance is higher than the reference period, to meet the demand for child care up to their service’s full capacity.

Can I change my service offering under the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package in relation to meals, nappies or late fees? 

The intent of the weekly payments is to enable access to free child care for families of the priority groups like essential workers, during the COVID-19 crisis. The weekly payments should be the full amount a provider/service will receive, unless they apply for and meet the criteria for an Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment. Also noting that the Relief Package is complementary to other Government business support payments, like the JobKeeper Payment a provider may receive.

While providers/services receive payments under the Relief Package, they should not be changing their service offer and/or increasing or adding new administrative fees.

A provider’s usual service offering generally includes consumable items such as meals, wipes, or art supplies as part of the cost of providing a session of care. For example, if nappies were included as part of the session fee your service usually provided, nappies should continue to be provided without any extra cost to families.

Some services also charge administrative fees. These fees do not form part of the session of care fee that a family’s Child Care Subsidy was calculated on, meaning that services can continue to charge administrative fees, for example, late pick-up fees. However, services are not to increase these fees for the duration of the Relief Package or add new ones that were not listed in a family’s Complying Written Agreement.

A condition of a provider/service receiving payments under the Relief Package is that all services continue to meet the provider obligations under Family Assistance Law and there are to be no fees charged for care provided.

The department can take compliance action against services not meeting the conditions of the payments. Information about such practices can be directed to the department’s tip off line 1800 664 231 or emailing tipoffline@dese.gov.au.

Are Relief Package payments available to services that were temporarily closed or not yet open during the reference periods?

Services in this situation will need to apply for an Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment. Unless the other criteria for an Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment are met, the payment a new service would receive is the lower of 50 per cent of fee revenue or 50 per cent of the hourly rate cap for the enrolments during the period of operation.

Will I still receive payments if my service is directed to close due to COVID-19?

Services are still eligible to receive payments where a health agency or state or territory regulatory authority has directed a provider to close a service due to COVID-19 related reasons. The department may ask the provider for evidence to support the service’s claim that it has been directed to close.

A provider cannot make the decision to close the service and still be eligible for the payment.

What do I need to do if my service has to temporarily close or has reopened? New 19/05/20

If your service is required to temporarily close for any reason you must report the closure and re-opening. Failure to report a re-opening may impact your Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package payments. You must report your service closure and re-opening in a timely manner, clearly stating the reason for the closure to the following authorities within 24 hours: 

Contact details for state and territory offices 

What does this payment mean for my third party software?

The department has spoken to all third party software vendors to accommodate these payments. Your third party software often offers additional functionality to assist you with the day to day operations of your service. If you have specific questions about this functionality, or the general usability of your software, the department recommends that you contact your third party software provider directly.

    What about children who were full fee paying previously?

    Children previously paying full fees will have been accounted for in the base payment calculation and can continue to attend at no charge. However, you can tell us about these children if you apply for an Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment, noting that services should prioritise care to children of essential workers, vulnerable and disadvantaged children, and children with existing enrolments.

    How will the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package payments affect families on Additional Child Care Subsidy?

    The Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package payments will be made instead of the usual Child Care Subsidy (CCS) and Additional Child Care Subsidy (ACCS) payments.

    If the family’s current ACCS determination continues past the end of the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package payment period, they will return to their ACCS entitlement. This will be the case for most families receiving ACCS (grandparent).

    To ensure that ACCS (child wellbeing) continues to flow when the system returns to normal, if a family’s ACCS (child wellbeing) determination expires during the period, services will need to apply for a new determination. We encourage providers to submit determinations prior to the resumption of the regular system to avoid any gaps in ACCS (child wellbeing). If a family’s CCS cancels during the payment period they will need to reapply for CCS (and be assessed as eligible) for a service to receive ACCS (child wellbeing) payments when regular payments resume.

    If a family has submitted an application for ACCS (temporary financial hardship) their eligibility will be assessed and payment made up to 5 April 2020.

    If a person’s ACCS (transition to work) eligibility expires during the Relief Package period or the person requests to cease the ACCS (transition to work), they will need to apply for ACCS (transition to work) if they meet the eligibility criteria for the payment to recommence on 28 June 2020.

    Will immunisation requirements for children continue?

    Yes. All Child Care Subsidy (CCS) eligibility requirements will continue in place, and all approved providers and services must continue to comply with Family Assistance Law and National Law requirements. This includes the requirement under the CCS for children to meet the Childhood schedule on the Department of Health’s National Immunisation Program Schedule, be on a suitable catch up schedule in line with the Department of Health’s current Australian Immunisation Handbook, or have an approved medical exemption recorded on the Australian Immunisation Register.

    For all care types except In Home Care, families with children who do not meet the CCS immunisation requirements can attend child care services being supported by payments under the Relief Package where permitted to do so under state or territory regulations. These children must be enrolled under a Relevant Arrangement or Organisation Arrangement.

    For families using In Home Care, all children attending an In Home Care service must be CCS eligible. Children who do not meet the CCS immunisation requirements cannot attend In Home Care child care services.

    What happens to the payments if my service has or is about to transfer ownership?

    If a service’s ownership has changed since 2 March 2020, the new owner of the service would be eligible for payments from the date of transfer, provided a transfer of ownership process has been completed, including change of bank account details.

    How do I stay up to date on the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package?

    As we navigate COVID-19, the Department of Education, Skills and Employment is engaging directly with both providers and services more often. Many contact details are out of date, resulting in providers and services missing out on important information.

    The department encourages providers to update both their provider and each service’s contact details in the Child Care Subsidy System, particularly email addresses. The provider and service email addresses could be the same, but both may need updating.

    You can update your details via the Provider Entry Point (PEP). Guidance is available in the task card How to View and Update Organisation Details in the PEP.

    Alternatively, you can update your details via your third party software. Please contact your software provider if you need assistance updating your details via a third party software program.

    Please also make sure that you have subscribed to receive communications from the Department of Education, Skills and Employment.

    Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package and the Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment—information for providers and services

    Who is eligible for additional funding?Updated 21/05/20

    Providers/services can apply for an Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment in limited circumstances based on the number of children in attendance. These include but are not limited to the following:

    1. Insufficient reference period or increase in demand
    • services were not operating during the reference period
    • the number of attendances during the reference period is significantly and demonstratively lower than the current number of attendances at the service from 6 April 2020 onwards
    • a service experiences a significantly higher demand for child care for children of essential workers and/or vulnerable and disadvantaged children during the period 6 April 2020 to 28 June 2020.
    1. JobKeeper ineligibility
    • providers that are not eligible for the JobKeeper Payment, including non-government schools, large charities/not for profit organisations, but excluding state and local government services
    • Family Day Care (FDC) and In Home Care (IHC) educators that were providing care in the reference period that are not eligible for JobKeeper, but who have registered for an Australian Business Number (ABN) by 1 June 2020.
    • services, excluding state and local government services, that have 30 per cent or more full-time equivalent current employees* who are not eligible for JobKeeper Payment and where the provider or service has not applied for or received another Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment for these employees.

    *current employees means those employed by the provider during the reference period and from 18 May 2020 onwards.

    In recognition of the higher costs associated with IHC sessions of care, providers will be eligible for an Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment of 20 per cent of the weekly payment calculated on the reference fortnight base rate. This payment will be made from 18 May 2020. IHC providers do not need to apply for this payment as it will be made automatically.

    How do I apply for additional funding?

    Providers seeking an Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment amount should complete an online form and outline their circumstances.

    The form is available at dese.gov.au/covid-19/childcare.

    Providers will be notified of the decision in writing.

    Providers must tell the department if their income goes up due to receiving extra state or government assistance. Please provide details regarding this additional support to ECECreliefpackage@dese.gov.au and put the relevant application ID number in the email subject header.

    In Home Care (IHC) providers, or large providers (those with 50 or more services), should email ECECreliefpackage@dese.gov.au to request a service-level spreadsheet to complete. This streamlined process is available to IHC and large providers even if not all services are eligible for Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payments.

    Will Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payments be backdated? Updated 21/05/20

    Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payments based on demand will be backdated to the beginning of a relevant four-week period. The first four-week period commenced on 6 April 2020.

    The four-week periods are:

    • Period 1 – 6 April 2020 to 3 May 2020
    • Period 2 – 4 May 2020 to 31 May 2020
    • Period 3 – 1 June 2020 to 28 June 2020.

    For example:

    A provider applying on 20 April 2020, that seeks the Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment to be backdated will receive the higher rate from 6 April 2020.

    OR

    A service which applies on 22 May 2020, may have their Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment backdated to the second four-week period which commences on 4 May 2020.

    Note: where applicable, adjustments will be made for those providers who have already received an Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment for increased attendance in the first four-week period and are now eligible for monies for week 1 of the period.

    Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payments will be backdated until the commencement of the Relief Package on 6 April 2020:  

    • to support providers that are operated by non-government schools and large charities/not-for-profit organisations that are not eligible for JobKeeper Payment

    OR

    • to providers of Family Day Care and In Home Care services, on behalf of their (sole trader contractor) educators who are not eligible for the JobKeeper Payment

    Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payments made to services who have more than 30 per cent of full-time equivalent employees who are ineligible for JobKeeper will be backdated to 18 May 2020.

    What tips are there for completing the Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment application? 

    Within the first four weeks of operation of the Relief Package, services can only be assessed as eligible for an Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment once. After the first four weeks, arrangements will be reviewed and any changes will be communicated to providers. Where a service’s application is rejected due to inaccurate or incomplete information the service can reapply within the four weeks. Services are encouraged to read the supporting information and the examples provided at relevant questions when completing an application.

    If your application is inaccurate or incomplete it will be rejected and you will need to reapply to be considered for an Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment. Common reasons for rejection include:

    Invalid applications

    Where there are errors in critical identification or registration details the department is unable to process the application. Invalid applications will be rejected and services will need to reapply to be considered for an Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment.

    Common errors include:

    • Provider Customer Reference Number (CRN) and Service CRN used are the same, are not linked OR are entered incorrectly.
    • PRODA ID used does not belong to the person completing the application OR has been entered incorrectly. The PRODA ID must be the ID of the person with management and control who is completing the application.
    • Business or service registration IDs used have not been able to be verified.

    Insufficient evidence

    Applications that do not include enough evidence to support the claim will not be approved and services will need to reapply to be considered for an Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment.

    Common errors include:

    • not attaching evidence 
    • evidence that is not linked to attendance
    • evidence that is not linked to hours of care provided in current period
    • evidence is about future demand not current hours of care; or
    • claims for more children attending than are currently enrolled at a service.

    All services must continue to record attendance for the children in their care. If a service is doing this through their third party software, the reports from this software can be used as evidence. This would show the enrolment IDs, attended hours and session hours.

    When preparing supporting documents, personal information including names and dates of birth must be redacted. Multiple attachments can be provided in a zip file.

    Incorrect information

    Where a service finds they have made a mistake on an application after it has been submitted, this cannot be corrected without submitting a new application. Corrections lodged via email cannot be considered.

    Common errors include:

    • Current number of children entered as a fortnightly figure rather than weekly.
    • Current number of children taken from enrolment numbers not attendances.
    • Current hours of care reflected as weekly figures rather than fortnightly.
    • Current hours of care reflected as the difference between previous and current hours rather than total new hours of care.

    When applying for Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment, what is satisfactory evidence to support my claim for increased demand? Updated 27/05/20

    Evidence must:

    • be provided for a fortnight of data and it must be after the reference period, and
    • be for care already provided–future bookings are not acceptable evidence; and
    • include detail of number of children cared for and hours charged in that fortnight and clearly supports the number of hours you have provided in your application. (While casual absences may be included e.g. a child is ill on Wednesday but attends all other sessions that week, long term absences related to children enrolled but not currently attending your service should not be included in the calculations used to complete your application, or in the evidence provided.)

    You should be able to generate this data using your existing software. Below are two examples of how it may be presented. Reports from your software may look different and the reports below are examples only. Please remove or black out any personal information, including names, prior to submitting.

    Example 1

    My Centre Name

    Provider CRN:  123456789T             Service CRN: 987654321X

    Attendances from 13/04/2020 – 26/04/2020

    Enrolment ID

    Hours of Attendance

    Hours Charged

    No of Absent Days

    E80012345

    0

    60

    6

    E80012346

    54.50

    80

    E80012347

    58.75

    70

    E80012348

    70.25

    100

    E80012349

    74.50

    100

    E80012350

    86.25

    100

    Total 6 Children

    344.25

    510

    Example 2

    My Centre Name

    Provider CRN:  123456789T             Service CRN: 987654321X

    Attendances from 13/04/2020 – 26/04/2020

    Number of Children

    Hours of Attendance

    Hours Charged

    No of Absent Days

    6

    344.25

    510

    6

    How long will it take to assess my application for an Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment?

    As each application is assessed on a case by case basis, we are unable to provide an estimated processing time.

    We will endeavour to assess all applications as quickly as possible. Providing a complete application with supporting evidence and all your correct ID and reference numbers will assist in processing your application efficiently. Before lodging your application we encourage you to:

    • consider the tips in this FAQ document about completing your application
    • monitor the DESE website for information about upcoming webinars that will provide additional information about completing your application
    • carefully check all identity and registration numbers provided; and
    • ensure you have uploaded evidence to support any statements in relation to any direction or advice to close by a health agency or state regulatory body, eligibility for the JobKeeper Payment, and any increase in the number of children attending that service and/or increase in the number of hours of care.

    How does an Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment affect my JobKeeper application?

    For a provider this payment and the base payment under the Relief Package are not considered as revenue for GST purposes. This means providers will be able to show they satisfy the decline in income test for the purposes of the JobKeeper Payment provided they do not have income from other sources, such as being part of a larger entity like a non-government school or a not-for-profit organisation.

    Where some of this revenue is then passed on to Family Day Care and In Home Care educators (based on contractual arrangements between the service and the educator) these monies are considered as revenue for GST purposes. As the educator is unlikely to receive more than 50 per cent of their fee revenue from the provider, they should be able to satisfy the decline in income test for the JobKeeper Payment.

    Can services operated by state, territory or local governments whose educators are not eligible for the JobKeeper Payment, receive increased payments?

    No, these services are not eligible to apply for an Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment on the basis of JobKeeper ineligibility. However, they are able to apply for an Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment where there is an increase in demand, where evidenced by an increase in the number of children attending or hours of care provided, when compared to the reference period.

    My Centre Based Day Care service is not eligible for the JobKeeper Payment. Am I eligible for an Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment? Updated 21/5/20

    The Government has expanded the categories of providers that may apply for the Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment. These include some providers that are not eligible for the JobKeeper Payment, including non-government schools, large charities/not-for-profit organisations, and services that have 30 per cent or more full-time equivalent current employees that are not eligible for JobKeeper. State and local government run and not-for-profit providers are not eligible to apply.

    Services associated with non-government schools should now be receiving a weekly Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment as well as a separate payment to cover the period from 6 April. If you are a service associated with a non-government school that is not eligible for JobKeeper and you have not received an Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment, you should contact the department at ECECreliefpackage@dese.gov.au.

    Large charities/not-for-profit organisations should have now been contacted by the department to confirm JobKeeper ineligibility. Once confirmed you should receive a weekly Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment as well as a separate payment to cover the period from 6 April.

    Services that have 30 per cent or more full-time equivalent current employees that are not eligible for JobKeeper must apply to the department.

    Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment – JobKeeper ineligibility – information for providers and services

    Some of my staff are ineligible for JobKeeper. Can I get additional support to assist me in paying my staff wages? New - 21/5/20

    Services that have a high number of staff ineligible for JobKeeper payments may be eligible for an Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment under the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package. This payment is designed to assist services to provide care to children of essential workers and vulnerable and disadvantaged children, as well as meet increased demand for care.

    How do I know if I am eligible for an Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment? New - 21/5/20

    Services may be eligible to receive this Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment under the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package if 30 per cent or more of their employees are ineligible for JobKeeper. Employees that are ineligible for JobKeeper are often casual employees who work short shifts. For this reason, the department will use a full-time equivalent amount of 38 hours to calculate both the 30 per cent and the amount of the payment.

    These employees must have been paid during the reference period (17 February to 1 March 2020) and still be employed by the service.

    In addition to these criteria, services must:

    • Currently be open and providing sessions of care to at least one child
    • Not be part of a state or local government; and
    • Not be eligible or receiving any other Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment on the basis of JobKeeper ineligibility.

    Service types that may be eligible for other Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payments on the basis of JobKeeper ineligibility include: Family Day Care and In Home Care services with a sole trader model, and services that are part of a non-government school, tertiary institution, and charity or not for profit organisation that is ineligible for JobKeeper.

    Can I apply for multiple services at the same time? New - 21/5/20

    For this Exceptional Circumstances Supplementary Payment, an individual application must be submitted for each service. Applications cannot be made at the provider level. At this stage, there is no separate process for providers with multiple services.

    What do you mean by ‘full-time equivalent employees’? New - 21/5/20

    The department will use a full-time equivalent (FTE) amount of 38 hours to calculate both your eligibility for this Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment and the amount of the payment. If you choose to apply, you will be asked to provide the number of hours for which your staff were paid during the reference fortnight. The department will calculate the FTE hours based on this information and the evidence you provide.

    Who is included as an employee? New - 21/5/20

    An employee is any person currently engaged by your service, including educators, administration staff, support staff, and cooks.

    What do you mean by paid and employed? New - 21/5/20

    A staff member who was ‘paid’ is any employee who received payment, including those who were on leave but still received wages from your service. To be ‘employed’, a staff member must still be engaged by your service as an employee as at 18 May 2020, however, does not need to be currently working.  

    My service is eligible for an Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment on the basis of ineligibility for JobKeeper. How do I apply?New - 21/5/20

    Services seeking an Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment should complete an online form.

    As part of the application form, you will need to upload a completed payment spreadsheet. This is what the department will use to calculate your eligibility and payments. You may choose to complete the spreadsheet before beginning the online application form to give you more time to compile and check your responses.

    This spreadsheet records the hours for which staff were paid during the reference period (17 February to 1 March 2020). In completing this spreadsheet, you will also need to confirm these staff were still employed as at 18 May 2020 and declare where you are eligible for JobKeeper for this staff member.

    Before submitting your application, you are legally required to obtain permission from all employees who worked during the reference period to provide their personal information to the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills, and Employment, the Australian Taxation Office, and Services Australia. You will need to keep records of this permission.

    What evidence do I need to provide? New - 21/5/20

    You will need to provide a copy of your Payroll for the reference fortnight, the two weeks from the 17 February to 1 March 2020. This will need to show the names of all the staff who were paid, their hours worked, their Payroll ID, and Tax File Number. All other information including actual wages, should be redacted. 

    You will need to confirm which employees who were paid during the reference fortnight, are still employed and are eligible for JobKeeper for your service. The department may verify the information you provide with data from the Australian Taxation Office and Services Australia.

    Providing false information may result in the imposition of sanctions, including cancellation of service's approval, as well as civil penalties and criminal prosecution.

    My service is currently experiencing higher hours of attendance than during the reference fortnight and I have had to employ additional staff. Can I receive a higher Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment? New - 21/5/20

    Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payments made on the basis of JobKeeper ineligibility are designed to allow services to continue to pay the staff who worked during the reference fortnight. Services who are currently experiencing higher hours of attendance may be eligible for an Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment on the basis of higher demand. Applications for this payment can be made through the form.

    How much will services receive under this Exceptional Circumstances Supplementary Payment? New - 21/5/20

    Payments will be calculated on a case by case basis and will depend on the numbers of full-time equivalent staff ineligible for JobKeeper who are still employed by the service. 

    How will payments be made? New - 21/5/20

    If approved, payments will be made to your service’s nominated bank account as part of your weekly Relief Package payment. A one-off payment may also be made with payments backdated to 18 May 2020.

    COVID-19 health advice for providers and services

    Who will inform our early childhood education and care service if it is required to close?

    Closures are a decision that will be made, and advised, by state and territory governments. Usually this is their health department, but it may come from the state regulatory authority.

    Services directed to shut down because of COVID-19 should follow standard processes for activating a period of local emergency.

    If you close your early childhood education and care service, either voluntarily or as directed by a state or territory regulatory or health authority on public health advice or for other valid health and safety reasons, you must notify your state regulatory authority within 24 hours.

    Is it safe for my service to stay open?

    Continuing essential services such as child care–while it is safe to do so–is crucial to enabling parents, including health care professionals, to continue to work and support the broader community during these uncertain times. It also reduces the reliance on alternative care arrangements such as grandparents or elderly relatives who are typically at higher risk of COVID-19. 

    Early childhood education and care services should follow the advice from their state or territory governments on matters related to COVID-19. Their advice and directions are informed by the expert medical advice of Australia’s Chief Medical Officer and the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC).

    The current clear advice of health officials is that services should continue to remain open unless otherwise directed, with risk mitigation measures as outlined in the AHPPC statement below.

    Read the statement from the AHPPC about COVID-19 in children and early childhood education and care.

    What about physical distancing? New - 27/5/20

    The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) have reviewed the physical distancing requirements for early childhood education and care services and determined that the ‘venue density rule’ of no more than one person per four square metres is not appropriate or practical in early childhood education and care services, nor is maintaining 1.5m between children. Read the statement from the AHPPC.

    Safe Work Australia (SWA) have also updated their advice for services, explaining that children are not to be included in any calculations of four square metres per person, however employers are reminded these principles should be adhered to for adults in services, including visitors. Read the statement from SWA.

    Child Enrolments, Attendance and Absences

    How should services treat new enrolments at their centre? 

    Providers should continue to enter into a Complying Written Arrangement with parents who are eligible for the Child Care Subsidy and record the child’s start date (the day that the parent confirms their agreement to the arrangement) in their third party software or the Provider Entry Point (PEP).

    An enrolment notice should be submitted in the provider’s third party software or the PEP within seven days of entering into a Complying Written Arrangement with the family.

    What is the child care absence policy in response to COVID-19?

    Whether a child is ill or not, including where a child does not attend care as part of the family’s own precautionary measure against potential contact with COVID-19, Child Care Subsidy (CCS) can be paid for up to 62 absence days per child, for the 2019–20 financial year, without the need for families to provide documentation.

    Once a child’s 62 initial absences have been used, if more absences are required for COVID-19 related reasons, CCS can be paid for additional absences claimed without the need for medical evidence. 

    Absences will not be counted during the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package period (commencing 6 April 2020) as session reports will not be submitted. 

    What if a child is absent on their last day of enrolment?

    If an enrolment ends on or prior to 5 April 2020, and the child is absent on the last day, normal absence rules apply. That is, if a family has confirmed their child’s last day at a service, but that child does not attend their last booked session(s) of care, no Child Care Subsidy (CCS) will be paid for any days after the child’s last physical attendance at the service.

    If absences are reported in the above circumstances and CCS has been previously paid, these amounts will be recovered from the service once the enrolment ceases.

    If a child is absent on their last day of enrolment in the period between 6 April 2020 and 28 June 2020, the CCS amount which has been paid to the service will not be recovered from the service or the family.

    For example, if the child ceases their enrolment on 8 April 2020, and has been absent for the two weeks immediately prior to this date, the CCS amount which has been paid to the service over the period up to 8 April 2020, will not be recovered from the service or the family.

    What is the out of pocket fee waiver?

    Ordinarily, when Child Care Subsidy operates, providers are required to recover the out of pocket fees from families, even if the child is absent from care. Due to the impact of COVID-19, the sector has reported significant decreases in attendance. To support families and the sector, for the period 23 March to 5 April 2020, providers were able to waive out of pocket fees for families where a service remained open, but children were absent.

    I have already charged families the gap fee for care provided on or after 23 March 2020. Can I give them a refund?

    It is a business decision for each service whether or not they choose to charge families a gap fee, or in this case refund the gap fee for children absent from care due to COVID-19. From 23 March 2020 there is no legal obligation for services to charge gap fees for children absent from care, up to and including 5 April 2020 to the remainder of the 2019–20 financial year.

    Am I still expected to record/store the attendance information of children at my service (for example 'in and out times')?

    Yes, you must still record the attendance information, such as in and out times, for children that attend your service. This can either be stored electronically, or by other means. You must also give families statements of sessions of care provided.

    Will my enrolments automatically cease because I am not submitting session reports?

    No. Children enrolled on 5 April 2020 will still be enrolled once the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package payment period is over. 

    Providers should encourage families who have withdrawn from their service to re-enrol. By families staying enrolled, they will keep their Child Care Subsidy eligibility so the subsidies will flow again once the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package payments cease.

    What if I need to amend a session report for a session of care prior to 6 April 2020?

    After 28 June 2020, providers will be able to submit sessions of care for periods prior to 6 April 2020, and to make resubmissions to correct already submitted sessions.

    These submissions and resubmissions will be monitored to ensure providers remain compliant with legislation.

    What if my service’s levels of attendance have not decreased?

    The Australian Government is committed to ensuring that families, especially emergency and essential workers, can work during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that disadvantaged and vulnerable children are safe and receiving care.

    The Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package has been developed to assist such families and to respond to concerns from the vast majority of the child care sector that falling child care attendance was threatening the viability of the sector.

    Those child care providers who do not experience any significant reduction in enrolments and attendance are able to apply for an Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment under the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package.

    Do services have to accept new enrolments and increased sessions where parents request it?

    Services are required to prioritise care to children of essential workers, vulnerable and disadvantaged children and children with existing enrolments as part of the conditions of the Relief Package. Where services choose to accept new enrolments and increase attendance where parents request it, they are able to apply for Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payments to meet the demand for child care up to their service’s full capacity taking into account staff, resources and health and safety issues.

    Families and services can report concerns about services not adhering with the conditions of the Relief Package to the department by phoning 1800 664 231 or by emailing tipoffline@dese.gov.au. For example, if a family believes a service has capacity to provide more care but is electing not to do so, or that a service is not prioritising essential workers in offering that care, they can and are contacting this line.

    Can families who do not meet the Child Care Subsidy residency requirements enrol their children to attend a service receiving payments under the Relief Package?

    Yes. Families who do not meet the Child Care Subsidy residency requirements can be enrolled under a Relevant Arrangement or Organisation Arrangement enrolment while payments under the Relief Package are being made, noting however priority for child care places is to be given to essential workers, vulnerable and disadvantaged children and previously enrolled children.

    Do both parents/carers need to be essential workers to be given priority access?

    No. As long as one parent is an essential worker that would suffice.

    Can families who have children enrolled under a Relevant or Organisational Arrangement attend a service receiving payments under the Relief Package for free?

    Yes, for the duration of the Relief Package.

    Family Day Care and In Home Care

    Can Family Day Care and In Home Care providers apply for an Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment for their educators who are not eligible for the JobKeeper Payment because they didn’t have an ABN? Updated 27/05/20

    Providers of Family Day Care (FDC) and In Home Care (IHC) services, who are not run by state or local government, may apply for Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payments on behalf of contracted sole trader educators.

    To be eligible for an Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment, the following conditions must be met:

    • educators must be currently contracted to the service and have provided care during the reference period
    • educators must not have had an ABN on 12 March 2020 (those educators with an ABN should apply individually for JobKeeper payments)
    • these educators must have applied for an ABN by 1 June 2020; and
    • only one provider can apply on behalf of each educator (even if they work for more than one service).

    In an application on behalf of contracted sole trader educators, providers will be required to supply either:

    • the educator’s ABN, or 
    • the date of the educator’s application for an ABN and the Australian Taxation Office receipt number.

    Applications without this information cannot be considered. 

    Providers of FDC and IHC services receiving this Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment must pass on the payment in full to their eligible educators.

    Information collected for the purposes of calculating the amount of Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment will be shared with the Australian Taxation Office and Services Australia for verification checking.

    What if a Family Day Care or In Home Care service has already applied for an Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment because their (sole trader contractor) educators are not eligible for the JobKeeper Payment?

    If a Family Day Care or In Home Care service has already made an application through the Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment process the department will be in contact with them shortly to request further information about those educators (sole trader contractors) who are not eligible for the JobKeeper Payment. Confirmation and evidence will be sought that all relevant educators have applied for an ABN before any additional payment can be assessed.

    Can In Home Care be used by families whose children are unable to go to school or access their regular child care arrangements due to COVID-19?

    In Home Care (IHC) is a specific type of care that is targeted to families who meet the IHC eligibility criteria.

    Risk of COVID-19 infection, or an early childhood education and care service or school closing because of COVID-19, would not by itself be a valid reason to access IHC. However, critical workers may be able to access IHC and should contact the relevant IHC Support Agency within their state or territory to discuss their requirements. 

    Are there different Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package payment arrangements for Family Day Care or In Home Care providers?

    No. Unless otherwise notified by the department, the payments will be paid as a lump sum on a weekly basis at the provider/service level. Consistent with the previous arrangements for the Child Care Subsidy, payments will not be made to educators.

    Approved providers are responsible for the administration of the payment including decisions on how to apply payment amounts to individual educators.

    Approved providers as business owners should explore options to support their business model and their educators. Further information is available on the australia.gov.au website.

    Are Family Day Care and In Home Care educators being asked to take a 50 per cent pay cut?

    No, Relief Package payments to providers are based on the lower of 50 per cent of service fee revenue or 50 per cent of the Child Care Subsidy hourly rate cap, based on the fortnight before 2 March 2020.

    However, educators may also be eligible for the fortnightly JobKeeper Payment to cover their wage.

    If a Family Day Care or In Home Care educator is not eligible for the JobKeeper Payment then they may be eligible for an Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment.

    Have Family Day Care and In Home Care educators been told to continue working despite isolation and social distancing rules?

    Family Day Care and In Home Care educators who have implemented health and safety measures in accordance with the relevant health advice may not be able to continue offering care to the same number of children as they did under the Child Care Package.

    In designing the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package, the Government listened to the concerns of peak industry organisations for the early childhood education and care sector.

    The department continues to work with peak bodies to address issues as they arise.

    Can we receive more than the 50 per cent Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package? Updated 21/05/20

    Family Day Care (FDC) and In Home Care (IHC) services are already coping with a surge in enrolments as essential workers have sought flexible child care options for their preschool-aged children and their primary school-aged children who are no longer going to school.

    Additionally, in recognition of the higher costs associated with IHC sessions of care, providers will be eligible for an Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment of 20 per cent of the weekly payment calculated on the reference fortnight base rate. This payment will be made from 18 May 2020. IHC providers do not need to apply for this payment as it will be made automatically.

    Where a service is providing additional care compared to the reference period they can apply to receive the Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment.

    The form is available at dese.gov.au/covid-19/childhood.

    IHC providers, or large providers (those with 50 or more services), should email ECECreliefpackage@dese.gov.au to request a service-level spreadsheet to complete. This streamlined process is available to IHC and large providers even if not all services are eligible for Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payments.

    Providers who receive this Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payment must tell the department if their income goes up for any reason. This includes if you have access to additional state or local government assistance. Please provide details regarding this additional support to ECECreliefpayment@dese.gov.au and put the relevant application ID number in the email subject header.

    If a FDC/IHC service has already made an application through the exceptional circumstance process, the department will be in contact with them shortly to request further information about those educators (sole trader contractors) who are not eligible for the JobKeeper Payment. Confirmation and evidence will be sought that all relevant educators have applied for an ABN before any additional payment can be assessed.

    What about educators who want to change services as they are uncomfortable with the support they are currently receiving?

    As is normally the case, Family Day Care and In Home Care educators are still able to move between services – there are no restrictions on movement.

    As a Family Day Care service, are we allowed to charge our educators the fees that keep our service running?

    Any type of internal fee arrangement between a Family Day Care service and an educator is a commercial business arrangement. The Government does not regulate or intervene on matters between educators and services. As part of broader messaging around the COVID-19 response the Prime Minister has appealed to all businesses to look at their rate of fees and charges and see if they can reduce them in recognition of the unprecedented times being experienced.

    Can Family Day Care and In Home Care services still access the Community Child Care Fund?

    For providers currently receiving a Community Child Care Fund grant there will be no change to this agreement. The Prime Minister's announcement of the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package relates to the Child Care Subsidy and Additional Child Care Subsidy under the previous system. Applications for CCCF Special Circumstances Grant Opportunity previously lodged with the department for COVID-19 related matters are currently being considered. This grant opportunity closed on 3 April 2020.

    I am an educator and I have questions about how the new Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package will work for me, who should I speak to?

    All educators should talk to their providers in the first instance. Providers are working hard in collaboration with peak bodies to understand how to administer the new arrangements. The first payments were processed in the week commencing 6 April 2020. A final Child Care Subsidy payment was also made in this week.

    Inclusion Support Program

    My service receives funding from the Inclusion Support Program to support the inclusion of children with additional needs. Can Inclusion Development Fund payments still be claimed through the Inclusion Support Portal? 

    For care provided from 6 April 2020 services should claim all Inclusion Development Fund (IDF) claims hours as ‘non face-to-face’ hours, including the actual attendance of the case child and approved non face-to-face hours.

    The department has changed the Inclusion Support Portal to notionally increase the ‘Additional non face-to-face hours’ for each case to allow services to claim IDF payments without the attendance records in the Child Care Subsidy System.

    Note that this is a system change to facilitate payments only. There is no change to the actual allowable non face-to-face hours in each case. Services are only eligible for IDF for the hours of actual attendance and the approved number of non face-to-face hours as set out in their funding letter, per Section 11.1.1 of the Inclusion Support Program Guidelines.

    If services receive an error when claiming they should contact the IDF Manager at idfm@ku.com.au.

    Services will still need to record attendance and these will be checked by the department to verify IDF claims.

    Services can continue to submit new applications for Inclusion Support Program funding under the updated ISP Guidelines that were published on 30 March 2020.

    This IDF payment mechanism is expected to be in place for the duration of the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package arrangements.

    For more information on ISP visit education.gov.au/inclusion-support-program-isp.

    Community Child Care Fund

    I have already submitted a Community Child Care Fund Special Circumstances Grant Opportunity application prior to when the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package was announced. What happens next?

    Applications that were received on or before 9:00 am on 3 April 2020 are being considered. The outcomes for these applications will be announced as soon as possible.

    Compliance measures

    What compliance measures will be in place for the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package payments?

    The department will continue regular compliance monitoring including provider debt recovery actions.

    Families and services can report concerns about services adhering with the conditions of the payments to the department by phoning: 1800 664 231 or emailing: tipoffline@dese.gov.au.

    Providers found not to be following the requirements of Family Assistance Law, including the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package, may have payments cancelled and/or have a debt notice issued.

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