21 MayResponse to Relief Package review needs to address the big question
The Morrison Government’s response to the four-week review of its Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package brings some welcome extra relief for some services but leaves the big question unanswered – will the relief package continue beyond 28 June?
“An extra $12 million for services with more than 30% percent of full-time equivalent staff ineligible for JobKeeper and an extra $800,000 for in-home care providers are both welcome and reasonable responses to the review but for the bulk of providers the clock is c0unting down on the 28 June expiry date for the package and we know there’s plenty of them that are really anxious about what comes next,” said ELAA CEO, David Worland.
“There’s so many things that remain uncertain – the potential for high unemployment to become entrenched or even escalate, a possible second or third wave of the virus, and residual anxiety among parents about even contemplating returning their children to childcare. We believe it’s too early to make a call about rolling back the ECEC Relief Package – the risk of upsetting the apple cart and triggering wide spread service closures is too great right now.”
The Summary Report on the four week review of the Relief Package concludes with “Consideration could be given by the Government to the interaction between likely demand trajectories, any refinements to the Relief Packages refinements, and plans to return to Child Care Subsidy (CCS) settings”.
“ELAA has some significant reservations about returning to the pre-pandemic CCS system,” said Mr Worland.
“The system has proved inflexible and unable to adequately respond to crises in 2020 linked to bushfires, floods and now a pandemic. And with the existing activity test it has the potential to lock out children from vulnerable families and the amount of families considered ‘vulnerable’ will continue to grow since the economic shutdown, despite the introduction of JobKeeper.
“Therefore, we call on the Morrison Government to extend the Relief Package at least until the end of September 2020 and urge the government to increase funding for services with attendances above 50 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. We are also calling on Government to begin planning for a transition to a modified CCS system that not only ensures the early childhood education sector remains viable but also provides equitable access to quality early learning for all children regardless of their parents’ circumstances. And that means removing the activity test. ”
For more information or to arrange an interview with ELAA CEO, David Worland, contact James Gardener 0413 483 182.
ELAA is the national peak body for not-for-profit providers of early childhood education and care. Our vision is Excellence in Early Learning for Every Child. www.elaa.org.au