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.

On this page:

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

A Victorian Recovery Payment will be provided to all eligible Victorian services. There is extra support for Outside School Hours Care (OHSC) services.

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

A 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 OSHC in Melbourne 

From late October, 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.

Transition Payments remained in place until school returned to normal in mid-October. This included:

  • 30% Transition Payment
  • Additional Viability Support Payment
  • Special Transition Payment, and
  • Low Charged Hours payment.

For OSHC in regional Victoria 

From late 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.

Transition Payments remained in place until school returned to normal in mid-October. This included:

  • 25% Transition Payment
  • Additional Viability Support Payment, and
  • Low Charged Hours payment.

Conditions for payments

To receive the Recovery Payment, all eligible Victorian services must agree to the conditions in their grant agreement.

Each agreement has general terms and conditions that cannot be changed.

The Commonwealth may recover grant funds if there is a breach of the grant agreement or if the providers or their services are found to have been ineligible. Giving false or misleading information is a serious offence.

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

Conditions and eligibility requirements include, but are not limited to, the following:

Employment Guarantee

The Employment Guarantee provides employment security for early childhood education and care workers. It ensures that providers pass support payments onto 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 (FDC) and In Home Care (IHC) providers spent at least 80% of their Recovery Payments on wages and payments for employees and educators.
  • That Centre Based Day Care (CBDC) 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 or 12 hours of work a week, whichever is higher.
  • That OSHC 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 or five hours of work a week, whichever is higher
    • offer long-term casual employees two shifts or five hours of work a week, whichever is higher.

Other conditions

There are other conditions to remain eligible for Recovery Payments:

  • Providers may not claim JobKeeper for individuals employed or engaged in duties principally relating to the operation of the early childhood education and care service. For more information see the JobKeeper Payment eligibility information sheet.
  • Providers may not claim or receive JobKeeper for 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 receiving the Recovery Payment. Reasonable steps include informing all educators in writing that you are receiving the Recovery Payment and outlining the conditions attached to the payment. 
  • Providers must continue to freeze fees.
  • Services must remain open and continue to provide care, unless:
    • they have been directed to close by a relevant Commonwealth, state or territory government authority or health agency because of the pandemic or natural disaster, or
    • the provider fails, or has failed, to comply with the grant agreement or the Guidelines (including the eligibility criteria) in relation to the service.

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.

Grant offers

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

Timing of payments

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

The first payment 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.

Christmas and New Year period

CBDC, IHC and FDC services will be paid fortnightly in advance until 31 December 2020, including any period of shutdown from Christmas Day to New Year’s Day.

OSHC services will be paid fortnightly in advance until 21 December 2020.

OSHC and vacation care only services will be paid in arrears for each week that care is provided between 21 December 2020 and 31 January 2021. We will review session reports to assess whether a service provided care and is eligible for payment for each week in that period.

If an OHSC service provides care in the week (Monday to Sunday) that contains Christmas Day and/or the week that contains New Year’s Day, they will receive a Recovery Payment for each of those weeks.

For all services, we will determine eligibility for Recovery Payments for each week in January 2021 after reviewing session reports.

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 was 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 applied the session of care at the child’s usual service from 12:01am to 12:30am on Monday 12 October. This has no impact on a family’s CCS payments. It showed 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.