MercyCare / News / Changes sought to ensure longevity for Early Learning Centres

Changes sought to ensure longevity for Early Learning Centres

“MercyCare supports the efforts of the Government to limit the spread of COVID-19 and understand many families have chosen to keep their children at home where they can, as directed by the Government,” MercyCare chief executive officer Anthony Smith said.

“Our 13 Early Learning Centres across Perth remain open so we can support the children in our care, their families and our staff.

“Our centres are a big part in the puzzle in the fight against this pandemic. Essential workers – nurses and doctors in hospitals, residential aged care workers, and support workers going to the homes of older Western Australians and those living with a disability to name a few – require their children cared for otherwise they will need to stay at home too.

“We want to ensure when all this is over, which it will be, there are centres for families to come back to with familiar staff they trust and who can support a smoother, less anxious transition back to work.

We ask the Government to consider further supporting families and our Early Learning Centres by:

  • stopping the financial co-contribution (Gap FEE) for families
  • to pay the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) for all children who were attending our centres from March 1 before the impact of the coronavirus were realised
  • consider paying the Child Care Subsidy for any absences at the end of care due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Currently services are unable to waive Gap Fee payments unless they are directed to close. This means services and families alike are being punished for non-attendance.

The industry estimates one in three children have stopped attending childcare across Australia. This has significantly reduced the amount (Child Care Subsidy) operators receive from the government, while significant outgoing costs like rent and wages remain.

“These changes to payments will allow Centres to continue supporting staff for longer, ensuring when children and families are able to return the same trusted and valued staff are there for them and their children,” Mr Smith said.

“The Early Learning sector is an essential service in rebuilding the State economy when this is over. By stopping Gap Fees and paying the Child Care Subsidy for all children that were attending centres as of March 1, the Government can take a huge step in ensuring this sector will be there for the long term.”