More COVID-19 support for early childhood sector

The Australian Government is providing more support to the early childhood education and care sector in response to the evolving COVID-19 situation.

Gap fee waiving

There are now more reasons services can waive gap fees.

Until 30 June 2022, services can waive the gap fee and receive Child Care Subsidy (CCS) if a child is unable to attend care for one of four reasons:

  1. The child, or a member of their immediate household, must isolate due to COVID-19.
  2. The child is at a higher risk of severe disease from COVID-19. This includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
  3. The service, or a room at the service, is closed due to COVID-19. This includes where a service closes based on general guidance from a state or territory government agency, or because educator to child ratios cannot be safely met as the educator/s must isolate. Written advice specific to the impacted service is not required.
  4. The state or territory has restricted access to child care in a region due to COVID-19. This includes where the state or territory has restricted school attendance, in the case of Outside School Hours Care.

Learn more about gap fee waiving.

Absences

Unlimited allowable absences

We’re providing unlimited allowable absences throughout January and February 2022, in response to the Omicron wave.

Families won’t have to use their 52 allowable absences for the 2021–22 financial year during this period. These absences will be automatically applied in the Child Care Subsidy System.

We may back pay you if a child had already exceeded their 52 absences in January. You must pass on the benefit to the family.

Unlimited absences do not apply in Western Australia.

Absences at the start or end of an enrolment

We don’t usually pay CCS for any absences before a child’s first, or after their last, physical attendance.

There are exceptions to this rule to support families who start or end an enrolment during the peak of the Omicron wave.

The following exceptions apply for services in all states and territories except Western Australia:

  • From 1 January to 28 February 2022, we’ll pay CCS for any absences prior to a child’s first day, or after their last day for enrolments that begin or end during this period. The absences can be taken for any reason.
  • From 1 to 31 December 2021 and 1 March to 30 June 2022, we’ll pay CCS for any absences in the 7 days prior to a child’s first, or after their last day, if the child or a member of their immediate household must isolate due to COVID-19.

The following exceptions apply for services in Western Australia:

  • From 1 December 2021 to 30 June 2022, we’ll pay CCS for any absences in the 7 days prior to a child’s first, or after their last day, if the child or a member of their immediate household must isolate due to COVID-19.

We’ll provide more information soon about what you need to do to ensure absences are paid in these circumstances.

Support for service closures

Services can apply for a Community Child Care Fund (CCCF) Special Circumstances grant if they’ve had to close, or partially close, due to COVID-19, including in the absence of stay-at-home orders.

Find out how to apply for a CCCF Special Circumstances grant. The guidelines and application form will be updated soon.

Stay up to date

We regularly update the information on our website. Please check back often.

Providers and services should ensure their contact details are up to date in the Child Care Subsidy System so they don’t miss important information. Do this via the Provider Entry Point (PEP) or your third-party software.