NSW’s council-run early child education and care services, which were facing an uncertain future as lockdown conditions continued, will get Commonwealth COVID funding relief following a sector-wide national push and advocacy from Local Government NSW (LGNSW).
LGNSW President Linda Scott wrote to State and Federal treasurers seeking urgent financial support for council-run early childhood services, whose survival was under threat from NSW stay-at-home orders and Commonwealth decisions on funding arrangements.
“I am so pleased the Commonwealth Government this week announced fortnightly payment support for childcare centres impacted by this extended season of COVID-19 lockdown, which will enable both council-run and privately-operated early childhood services to continue supporting families in our communities,” Cr Scott said.
“Before this funding announcement, there was a massive question mark on how long these services could have continued. For example, in just the 19–30 July fortnight, locked down Early Childhood Education and Care services in NSW lost close to $1 million collectively due to waiving of daily gap fees.
“The problem was exacerbated by the fact that council-run services were not eligible for the $5.1 billion business and individual COVID support funding.
“Councils and the childcare sector across Australia rallied together in a call for State and Federal support, including our advocacy efforts at LGNSW.”
Cr Scott said payment support details were still being finalised by the Federal Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE), but payments should be available within the next fortnight.
Conditions for funding outlined by DESE include:
- having reasonable expectations attendance will drop below 50 per cent;
- not accessing other Commonwealth Government-funded business supports;
- waiving gap fees for all families whose children are not attending;
- maintaining staffing levels; and
- agreeing to a fee freeze for the duration of business continuity payments.
“We will continue to work with our councils in the weeks ahead to ensure these funding arrangements enable us to weather the challenges of this extended lockdown period,” Cr Scott said.
Services in the following Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Greater Sydney that meet criteria will be eligible for funding support, with more areas becoming eligible if the lockdown continues:
City of Sydney, Bayside, Blacktown, Blue Mountains, Burwood, Canada Bay, Camden, Campbelltown, Canterbury/Bankstown, Central Coast, Cumberland, Fairfield, Georges River, Hawkesbury, Hornsby, Hunters Hill, Inner West, Ku-ring-gai, Lane Cove, Liverpool, Mosman, North Sydney, Northern Beaches, Parramatta, Penrith, Randwick, Ryde, Shellharbour, Strathfield, Sutherland Shire, The Hills Shire, Waverley, Willoughby, Wollondilly, Wollongong, Woollahra.