The Morrison Government is enacting a blanket rule that will allow child care centres to waive gap fees in any area declared a COVID-19 hotspot by the Commonwealth for more than seven days.

It means services will have the option to waive gap fees for more Australian families impacted by COVID-19, when they keep their children home during lockdowns.

The gap fee is the difference between the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) that the Government pays to a service and the remaining fee paid by the family.

Services will also be able to waive gap fees from day one of the hotspot declaration if a state or territory directs that centres are only open for some children, for example children of essential workers and vulnerable children.

Minister for Education and Youth Alan Tudge said this aligns with recent changes that allow families to use additional allowable absence days, where child care services are in a location that has been declared a Commonwealth hotspot of more than seven days.

“Together these changes provide certainty for families. They will immediately benefit families in Metropolitan Melbourne, the ACT and many NSW LGAs which have been identified as hotspots.”

“This will take some additional financial pressure off families who are struggling during COVID-19 lockdowns,” Minister Tudge said.

“It is also good for services because it means families are less likely to pull their children out of care altogether and services still get the government subsidy, even if children aren’t attending.

The gap fee waivers build on the significant support being provided to businesses and families by the Commonwealth and State governments in response to the current COVID-19 situation.

“In Sydney, with JobSaver in place, an average child care centre could still be getting up to around 80 per cent of their revenue, even if no children are attending,” Minister Tudge said.

“The measures will give providers more certainty, to help them plan and keep their staff employed so business can continue as usual when the stay at home orders end.”

“The Morrison Government is committed to supporting families and child care services through COVID-19”

Families experiencing a loss of income, such as casual workers or those in self-isolation, may also be eligible for extra support through the Additional Child Care Subsidy (temporary financial hardship).