The Impact of the Stage 4 Lockdown on Childcare in Victoria

As of 11.59pm Wednesday 5 August 2020, parents in metropolitan Melbourne will not be able to send their children to childcare unless they are vulnerable children or children of “permitted workers”.

There has been vast uncertainty in the sector regarding how child care centres will continue to operate with such a drastic reduction in children attending. Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan today provided some clarity, by announcing support for the Victoria childcare sector in the form of:

  • Parents will have an extra 30 days of allowable absences from childcare for their enrolled children;
  • Providers can waive the gap fee so that parents do not have to pay to keep their child enrolled at the centre for the next 30 days. If the gap fee is waived, families should not be charged fees for keeping their children at home so will not have to withdraw from the system;  
  • Childcare providers will a higher transition payment of 30% of pre-COVID revenue and centres with less than half their revenue coming from the childcare subsidy that see their attendance rate drop below 30% will get extra;
  • Employment is guaranteed for staff at childcare centres, which means child care centres need to keep employees on the books; and
  • $6million to support measures for outside school hours care for children of essential workers and vulnerable children in regional Victoria.

We note that childcare centres are not compelled by law to waive gap fees, it is up to each individual provider to determine if they will require parents to continue to pay gap fees. Further, the employment guarantee is not an income guarantee, making it difficult for early childhood educators who were taken off JobKeeper payments.

Who can access childcare?

Childcare is only able to be accessed by vulnerable children or children of “permitted workers”, if there is no one else in their household who can look after the child. A “permitted worker” is defined as:  

  • A worker from an organisation on the list of permitted activities;
  • The employee is working in an approved category for on-site work; and
  • The employee cannot work from home.

A full list of permitted industries is available here.

An “Access to Child Care Permit” has been set up for permitted workers to allow their children to attend childcare if they don’t have anyone else in the household who can supervise their children. The permit must be completed by the permitted worker’s employer and childcare providers must obtain Access to Childcare Permits from parents before allowing their children to attend childcare.

How we can help

If you require assistance with managing these recent changes to childcare or for more information on any of the above, please do not hesitate to contact us.