COVID-19 restrictions and the Early Childhood Education and Care sector

To slow the spread of COVID-19, state and territory governments may impose restrictions on local communities. This may affect how child care is delivered. This page provides information on Australian Government measures to support the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) sector in restricted areas.

On this page:

South Australia

On 18 November 2020 the South Australian Government announced a short period of restrictions due to COVID-19. In practice, this meant that for two days – Thursday 19 and Friday 20 November – child care services were only open for children of essential workers and vulnerable children. For this short period of disruption, Child Care Subsidy continued to be paid to services and, as such, the services are required to collect the gap fee from families.
 
These restrictions were lifted on 22 November and child care services in South Australia were able to return to business as usual from that date.

More information is available on the South Australian Government’s COVID-19 page.
 
Visit our Help in an emergency page to find out what support is available if your service has to close due to COVID-19.

Victoria

Current restrictions

From 11:59pm on Wednesday 16 September Third Step restrictions apply throughout regional Victoria.

From 11:59pm on Sunday 27 September Second Step restrictions apply in metropolitan Melbourne. Under this step, child care is once again open to all children.

Details on Victoria’s roadmap to reopening are available on the vic.gov.au website.

Support for restricted areas

On 5 August 2020, the Australian Government announced support for Victorian families and services. The measures build on the successful Child Care Subsidy (CCS).

The Government will extend this support until 27 September 2020, in line with Victoria’s roadmap to reopening. Services will receive the extension payments as a lump sum. The department will contact eligible providers.

From 28 September 2020, services in Victoria are being supported by the Recovery Package.

The below payments will continue for OSHC in Victoria until 11 October in regional Victoria and 18 October in Melbourne.

Increased Transition Payment

CCS approved providers in metropolitan Melbourne have received a 30% Transition Payment for the six-week period from 3 August to 13 September. This was made through four payments.

The increase does not alter any of the Transition Payment conditions.

Additional Viability Support Payment

The Additional Viability Support Payment (AVSP) recognises that Outside School Hours Care services across Victoria have experienced a drop in attendances because of the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Grant arrangements for the AVSP will incorporate the additional two weeks and be extended from six to eight weeks, or eight to ten weeks, as relevant.

For more information, visit the Additional Viability Support Payment page.

Special Transition Payment

Melbourne Metropolitan services may be eligible for a Special Transition Payment. This payment is aimed at supporting services with low attendance who are relying on allowable absences.

To be eligible:

  • Your service must be located in metropolitan Melbourne, Victoria
  • You must have been approved for CCS before 13 July 2020
  • You must be eligible to receive a Transition payment for the week commencing 20 July 2020
  • Your service's revenue during the reference fortnight must include less than 50% from CCS payments
  • The total hours of care for the fortnight 10 to 23 August 2020 is less than 30% of the hours provided during the reference fortnight. You must be waiving gap fees to provide an incentive for families to keep children enrolled
  • You must have submitted accurate session reports for the service by 7 September 2020 for the weeks commencing 10 August and 17 August 2020.

Eligible services will receive eight weeks' worth of entitlement as a lump sum payment.

The entitlement will be either 10, 15 or 25% of the fee revenue for the reference fortnight, based on the difference in attendance.

The Government will provide $16 million in funding to support this payment.

An OSHC service that is also receiving the AVSP will only be eligible for a 10% Special Transition Payment based on reference fortnight fee revenue where:

  • CCS revenue is less than 40% of its reference fortnight fee revenue, and
  • attendance hours in the fortnight starting 10 August 2020 are less than 10% of attendance hours in its reference fortnight.

The department has contacted eligible providers with an offer. Payments will be made from the week commencing 14 September 2020.

For more information, including eligibility, conditions and payment calculations, please see the Transition Payment Guidelines.

Additional allowable absences

All Victorian children have an additional 30 days of allowable absences. These are in addition to the existing 42 days for the 2020–21 financial year.

Families can use their allowable absence days where children are not permitted to attend, or where families prefer to keep them at home.

The additional absences have been applied to families’ accounts automatically. Services can access them as they usually would when submitting session reports.

Victorian services are encouraged to waive gap fees for absent children. You cannot waive gap fees for children attending care, but you can offer discounts.

These measures encourage families to maintain their enrolment, so that CCS can continue to flow to services.

Questions and answers

Business viability

If my service is closed due to COVID-19, can I increase the hours of care set out in a child’s enrolment to increase my CCS income?

The department would view such arrangements as an attempt to defraud the Commonwealth on the part of both the provider and the family.

It is entering a contract for service that cannot be honoured with the intent of increasing income from the Australian Government.

Any allegations that a provider is entering into such arrangements would be investigated by the department and compliance action, including potential criminal prosecution for fraud, will be taken. 

Are the Government support payments (i.e. Transition Payment, Additional Viability Support Payment etc.) counted as income?

All Commonwealth grants need to be recorded as income. However, the following payments are exempt from Goods and Services Tax:

  • Transition Payment
  • Special Transition Payment
  • Additional Viability Support Payment

In Home Care

Can families in Victoria access In Home Care?

The Australian Government is able to support Victorian families within existing In Home Care (IHC) settings, subject to eligible families being matched with educators that can meet their needs.

Families wishing to access IHC should contact the Victorian IHC Support Agency on 1800 993 737 or via email infor@ihc.org.au. The IHC Support Agency will assess families’ eligibility for IHC and refer them to a service that can meet their needs.

More information is available on the In Home Care page.

Border restrictions

Can I waive gap fees for Victorian children if my NSW service is located near the Victorian border?

No. Services who are located outside Victoria are not eligible to waive gap fees, even if they have enrolled children located in Victoria.

Can a NSW FDC or IHC service located near the Victorian border, which has approval for educators in both states, waive gap fees?

Yes, but only the educators located and providing care in a location with stay at home directions can waive gap fees where a child is absent from care. 

What about access to child care in other jurisdictions where there are cross-border complications and other issues?

Families and services should seek information from their respective state and territory governments.

Here are some helpful links by jurisdiction:

More information

Visit the Victorian Department of Education and Training website for more information about restrictions in Victoria and the impact on the sector.

The Victorian Government has set up a phone line dedicated to providing information about COVID-19 and education settings. Call 1800 338 663.

For other information about the current Victorian restrictions contact the COVID-19 hotline on 1800 675 398 or visit the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services website.

Providers and services can email ccshelpdesk@dese.gov.au or call 1300 667 276.

Parents looking for care can search Child Care Finder or call the parent helpline on 1800 291 041 from 9am to 5pm AEST, Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays).

Employees and parents who are concerned that providers aren’t meeting the conditions of their Transition Payment can report to the tipoff line on 1800 664 231 or tipoffline@dese.gov.au.