Recovery Package for early childhood education and care providers

This page provides information on Australian Government support for the early childhood education and care sector as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

From 28 September 2020, a $305.6 million Recovery Package provides continued support for the sector in Victoria and nationally.

Details on the announcement of the Recovery Package are in the media release from Minister Tehan.

Victoria

In recognition that Victorian services have not recovered to the extent of the rest of the sector, support measures will continue beyond 27 September 2020, based on service type and location.

For Centre Based Day Care, Family Day Care and In Home Care  

A new 25% Recovery Payment will apply until 31 January 2021.

This is based on the average weekly fee charged by the service during the reference fortnight (up to the fee cap). For most services this is the fortnight starting 17 February 2020.

For Outside School Hours Care in Melbourne 

Existing support payments will remain until school returns to normal from mid-October. This includes the 30% Transition Payment, Additional Viability Support Payment, Special Transition Payment and the Low Charged Hours payment.

From 19 October, Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) services in Melbourne will receive a 40% Recovery Payment until the end of the school year.

Vacation care only providers (and OSHC services providing vacation care) will also be eligible for this payment for any weeks of care provided from the end of the school year (21 December 2020) to 31 January 2021.

For Outside School Hours Care in regional Victoria 

Existing Transition Payments remained in place until students returned to on-site learning on 12 October.

Payments included the 25% Transition Payment, Additional Viability Support Payment and Low Charged Hours Payment.

From 12 October, OSHC services in regional Victoria will receive a 40% Recovery Payment until the end of the school year.

Vacation care only providers (and OSHC services providing vacation care) will also be eligible for this payment for any weeks of care provided between the end of the school year (21 December 2020) and 31 January 2021.

Conditions for payments

All services in Victoria that want to receive the Recovery Payment must agree to the following conditions in their grant offer.

More detailed information on conditions and eligibility requirements is available in the Victorian Recovery Payment Guidelines.

Employment Guarantee

The Employment Guarantee provides employment security for early childhood education and care workers. It ensures that providers pass support payments on to educators and employees through wages and payments.

There are new requirements under the Employment Guarantee:

Providers must maintain their current staffing profile.

That means that both:

  • the balance of permanent full-time, permanent part-time and long-term casuals is maintained, and
  • those employees who were employed during the new guarantee fortnight (20 July to 2 August 2020) must continue to be employed.

To ensure Recovery Payments are used to support early childhood education and care workers and educators, the Employment Guarantee also requires that for each fortnight a provider is operating during the recovery period:

  • That Family Day Care and In Home Care providers spent at least 80 per cent of their Recovery Payments on wages and payments for employees and educators.
  • That Centre Based Day Care providers:
    • pay full-time employees their full-time wage
    • offer permanent part-time employees the same hours worked in reference fortnight or at least two shifts/twelve hours of work a week, whichever is higher
    • offer long-term casual employees two shifts/12 hours of work a week.
  • That Outside School Hours Care and/or vacation care providers:
    • pay full-time employees their full-time wage
    • offer permanent part-time employees the same hours worked in reference fortnight or at least two shifts/five hours of work a week, whichever is higher
    • offer long-term casual employees two shifts/five hours of work a week.

Other conditions

To remain eligible for Recovery Payments, providers must not claim JobKeeper Payment for individuals employed or engaged in duties principally relating to the operation of the early childhood education and care service, and not claim or receive JobKeeper Payments themselves.

Providers that employ sole trader/independent contractor educators must take all reasonable steps to ensure that sole trader/independent contractor educators are not claiming JobKeeper while they receive the Recovery Payment.

Providers must also continue to freeze fees while receiving these payments.

We may request evidence from providers showing how they met the conditions of the Recovery Payment, including conditions of the Employment Guarantee.

We will continue to investigate services that do not meet these conditions.

If you feel a provider is not complying with these conditions, contact our tip-off line on 1800 664 231 or at tipoffline@dese.gov.au

Timing of payments

Recovery Payment grant offers were sent to Victorian services during the week commencing 12 October. Providers must review and electronically accept their grant offer for payments to start.

Providers who have accepted their offer by 19 October will receive the first payment in the week commencing 26 October 2020. Otherwise, fortnightly payments will commence in the next available fortnightly pay run.

The first payment to a service will include a back-payment amount from:

  • 28 September for each eligible CBDC, FDC and IHC service
  • 12 October for OSHC services (excluding vacation care only) outside metropolitan Melbourne, and
  • 19 October for OSHC services (excluding vacation care only) in metropolitan Melbourne.

OSHC and vacation care only services who provide care in the Summer school holidays (from 21 December 2020 to 31 January 2021) will receive Victorian Recovery Payments for the weeks they provide care in this period.  Payments are expected to start from 11 January 2021.

Absences

All children attending a Victorian child care service will 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 for any reason.

Enrolments

On Monday 12 October, a $0 session of care will be recorded on active enrolments for Victorian children who have not attended care for at least 10 weeks. Families will be deemed to have re-enrolled at this point and this will ensure enrolments remain active. 

Services Australia will apply the session of care at the child’s usual service from 12:01am to 12:30am on Monday 12 October. This will have no impact on a family’s CCS payments. It will show in your system as “COVID-19 system update”. 

You must not vary or withdraw the $0 session of care, unless it conflicts with an actual attendance.

Victorian providers need to confirm with families about their intentions to maintain enrolments, or not.  

You do not need to take any action for families that want to keep their enrolment

You must process the unenrolment for any families that wish to cease their enrolment after Monday 12 October to avoid an unintended debt outcome.

CCCF Special Circumstances  

Services in Victoria at high risk of permanent closure due to COVID-19, despite the existing support measures, may apply for support through the Community Child Care Fund (CCCF) Special Circumstances Grant Opportunity. 

To apply you must show evidence that you are at high risk of permanent closure despite other COVID-19 related funding. You must also meet other criteria in the guidelines, which focus on supporting disadvantaged communities and where there is limited supply of care.

This support will be available until 31 January 2021. 

For more information, and to apply, visit the CCCF Special Circumstances webpage. 

Australia

Transition Payments ended for services outside Victoria on 27 September 2020.

The relaxed activity test for families whose activity level has been impacted by COVID-19 will be extended to 4 April 2021.

Should similar outbreaks to Victoria’s occur elsewhere across the country and restrictions come into force, financial support will be extended to the sector as needed.

CCCF Special Circumstances 

From 12 October 2020, services outside Victoria at risk of imminent closure may be eligible for extra support through the CCCF Special Circumstances Grant Opportunity 

To apply you must show evidence that your service is: 

  • at risk of temporary or permanent closure due to COVID-19, and  
  • operating in or servicing families from vulnerable and disadvantaged communities, or 
  • operating in a community with limited or no other child care services. 

Applications that can show such evidence will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. The amount of funding will depend on a service’s individual circumstances. 

This support will be available until 31 January 2021. 

For more information, and to apply, visit the CCCF Special Circumstances webpage. 

More information

Contact the CCS Helpdesk by emailing ccshelpdesk@dese.gov.au or calling 1300 667 276.

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