Child care

Preschool pandemic package

By Louise Miolin and Georgia Hargreaves

A Perth childcare centre has welcomed the federal government’s decision to make childcare free for parents still working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Prime Minister today announced around one million families will have access to free childcare during the ongoing health crisis. 

Scott Morrison says the new scheme will see the government pay fifty per cent of the operating costs of the childcare sector from April 6. 

Mulberry Tree Childcare coordinator Josie Smith says while she is not sure exactly how the government’s plan will play out, she is confident it will be welcomed by many parents. 

“I’d say by tomorrow we have a deeper understanding of what’s going on, how long it’s going on for [and] who it actually applies to,” she says. 

“We’ve got a lot of police parents, and nurses, doctors and things like that, so it definitely would be great if the government could support them as much as they can through [these times].”

In a media release today, Education Minister Dan Tehan says the assistance package would ensure services remained open to serve families that needed to work and support vulnerable children.

“The Federal Government is working with states and territories and the sector to minimise the impact of coronavirus,” he says.  

“Until the payments arrive, we are allowing services to waive gap fees for families who keep their children home, and families will be able to use the 20 extra absence days the government has funded for coronavirus related reasons without giving up their place in a child care centre.

“We will also make payments of higher amounts available in exceptional circumstances, such as where greater funding is required to meet the needs of emergency workers or vulnerable children.” 

For more Covid-19 updates, download the government’s official app.