Family Day Care must be exempt from 'free fee' package

Family Day Care must be exempt from 'free fee' package

Home-based Family Day Care eductors will be forced to close their doors if the Federal Government fails to exempt the service from its 'free fee' COVID-19 childcare package, Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie warned today.

“Family Day Care is home-based care with small numbers of children and is different to your usual childcare centre; and educators cannot afford to continue to operate when they stand to lose up to 80 per cent of their usual source of income from both parents and the Government," Rebekha said today.

"The Government's COVID-19 childcare package offering 'free fees to parents' is designed to keep the bigger centres running through this crisis but one size does not fit all.

“At a time when there is so much financial hardship being experienced in Australia, the last thing we want to do is force these hard-working Family Day Care eductors to care for children while earning below the minimum wage and yet still expecting them to provide nutritious meals and consumables such as nappies all the while keeping up strict new cleaning regimes due to COVID-19.”

Under the 'free fee' package, the Government pays 50 per cent of the sector’s fee revenue up to the existing hourly rate cap based on a point in time before parents started withdrawing their children from childcare centres in large numbers.

The funding applies from April 6 and is based on the number of children who were in care during the fortnight leading into March 2.

"This package was designed help childcare centres make it through to the other side of the pandemic, but it makes the Family Day Care service within the childcare sector unsustainable," Rebekha said.

"Many families who send their children to Family Day Care do not receive a high Child Care Subsidy (CCS) so most educators rely on parent gap fees for the majority of their income.

"In addition, the educators will only receive 50 per cent of the CCS as it stood in the two weeks prior to March 2.

“Some Family Day Care operators stand to lose in excess of 70 to 80 per cent of their usual income, despite of what appears to be no change to the number of children in their care, nor the financial circumstances of the children’s parents.

“My fear is that this will make Family Day Care unsustainable and would force a number of these providers to close their doors to local parents, often in regional areas without other childcare options.

“Today I call on the Government to make this specialised group of childcare workers exempt from the free childcare package, or at the very least, allow them to charge parents gap fees in order to remain viable.”

There are 562 registered Family Day Care providers in Australia and 7,817 'long-day' childcare centres.

South Australia has 12 Family Day Care providers that offer registered Family Day Care educators. 

"I am advised there are 23 Family Day Care educators working under a provider in the Adelaide Hills region alone," Rebekha said.

"We are not talking about huge numbers of providers or children and this would be an affordable exemption for the Government to make."