Extended COVID support for families using early learning and care services

Media release

9 November 2021

Today’s announcement of extended support for users of early learning and care services will help families and young children to deal with ongoing disruption caused by COVID-19.

The Early Learning and Care Council of Australia (ELACCA) welcomes the Australian Government’s decision to grant families an additional ten days of allowable absences from early learning and care services, and to enable services to waive gap fees if a service – or a family – is affected by a COVID case.

‘After such a tumultuous 18 months, it’s so important that we continue to support children’s early learning,’ said ELACCA CEO Elizabeth Death.

‘Families have been under significant pressure and we need to ensure they have every support to keep their children enrolled in early learning and care, for the sake of children’s wellbeing and parents’ capacity to stay engaged in the workforce.

‘The transition to COVID-normal will be bumpy, especially for children aged under 12, who don’t yet have access to a vaccine. The reality is that COVID will affect young children, their families and their early learning and care services over the coming months.’

However, the Government’s announcement does not address the added financial pressures on early learning and care providers.

‘Waiving gap fees is a great support for families, but it does reduce income for early learning and care services,’ Ms Death said.

‘At the same time, these services are spending more than ever on safety and hygiene measures, including additional staff to implement them.

‘We look forward to receiving further advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) on safe operating procedures, but we also know these procedures come at a cost.

‘We will continue our discussions with governments around Australia on how we can work together to keep children and educators safe, while also safeguarding the viability of early learning and care providers.’