Jacquie and David Wolf from Kingsford with their kids Eitan, Tahlia, 4, and Noah, 1. David Wolf says the childcare policy through the COVID-19 crisis has left services out of pocket and families needing care. Picture: David Swift
Jacquie and David Wolf from Kingsford with their kids Eitan, Tahlia, 4, and Noah, 1. David Wolf says the childcare policy through the COVID-19 crisis has left services out of pocket and families needing care. Picture: David Swift

‘Free childcare’ package under review

A Government report into the 'free childcare' package has found that while it helped many childcare centres stay open and remain financially viable, it will require review as the demand for early childhood services is predicted to quickly increase.

The report found many childcare workers were ineligible for JobKeeper and some services were operating at a loss, in some cases because JobKeeper had not yet flowed through or because running costs were too high.

News Corp Australia reported that childcares across Australia were forced to fundraise with many parents saying they would be happy to consider paying for childcare.

But the report has rejected a mechanism for parents to make a contribution, saying "this could lead to scenarios where services preference paying families at the expense of those not providing a voluntary contribution, putting vulnerable children particularly at risk.

"Parents may feel pressured because they need the care, even if they cannot afford it."

Education Minister Dan Tehan said the emergency response had been widely successful with 99 per cent of around 13,400 services operational.

"Our government designed and implemented an emergency, temporary Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package to ensure as many child care businesses as possible survived the COVID-19 pandemic while continuing to provide care to our children," he said.

"The four-week review into the package makes clear that we need to begin planning for increased demand for places as businesses re-open and more people return to work.

"The review suggests a need to consider how the relief package can support economic recovery, supporting parents to get back to work and study, and children's early childhood education and wellbeing.

"The Government will consider the review."

Originally published as 'Free childcare' package under review


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