08 JunRollback of free childcare bets on swift economic recovery and no second pandemic wave
Today’s announcement by the Federal Government to roll back the Childcare Relief Package re-introduces affordability issues for Australian families and could also compromise the financial viability of early childhood education and care providers should the economic outlook worsen or the nation experience further significant COVID-19 related disruption.
Whilst ELAA remains supportive of the Federal Government making plans to transition beyond the Childcare Relief Package, the re-introduction of fees for parents at a time of pandemic induced economic recession is likely to result in reduced usage of child care services and create additional financial pressure for an already strained early childhood education and care providers.
“Many thousands of children will have their access to child care based early learning services reduced or removed. This will have detrimental long-term consequences for the learning of many children and their development, particularly our most vulnerable and disadvantaged children,” said Early Learning Association Australia (ELAA) Chief Executive Officer, David Worland.
Whilst it is pleasing to see the activity test relaxed for 12 weeks, this may not be long enough for many families where one or both income earners have lost their jobs and are unlikely to regain employment in the near future. An activity test waiver for at least 12 months (or permanently) would provide more support for families experiencing financial difficulties linked to the pandemic.
“A deepening of the recession or a second wave of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic could undermine the benefits attached to the newly announced transition payments.
“What Australian childcare providers and families need right now is certainty that they will be supported well into a post coronavirus (COVID-19) economy. This means creating a funding system that is flexible for providers and ensures child care is affordable for all families well beyond the next three months.”
ELAA will continue to engage with its members and other early childhood peak associations in its analysis of the details of today’s announcement and its impact on children’s learning, families, educators and sector sustainability.
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