PM announces free childcare for kids of essential workers

 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced free childcare for children of essential workers.

"If you have a job in this economy then that is an essential job, in my view, in terms of running of the economy and it is important that all of those parents who have children, that they get access to the childcare and those facilities will be there for them in the many months ahead," he said.

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"What we will be doing is we will be ensuring for those parents who are still in that position where they are needing that childcare, it will be free.

"We will be putting in place support arrangements to childcare facilities, some 13,000 of them, to ensure they remain open and be there for their parents to ensure they can do what they need to do each day.

"Like it is essential that the schools out there, they can take the schools they need to take each day from those same parents so we can continue running Australia each and every day."

The new childcare system, which will begin on Sunday night, will see children still going to their current providers.

"Under the plan, the Government will pay 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 in large numbers, but only so long as services remain open and do not charge families for care," reads a statement from the PM Education Minister Dan Tehan. "The funding will apply from 6 April based on the number of children who were in care during the fortnight leading into 2 March, whether or not they are attending services."

"The hope is that now all parents who need will get the care they want," Mr Tehan said.

The new system will see payments start flowing at the end of next week. The system will be reviewed after one month, with an extension to be considered after three months.

In short, everyone will be eligible for this, but essential workers and vulnerable people will take first priority.

The PM says centres should "prioritise obviously those who need their children cared for because they are working… and working where they can't care for their children safely at home".

He said it will also "prioritise vulnerable children who need that continuity of care as well".

"And then to re-engage with those parents who have taken their children out of care to see whether they can be accommodated as necessary as well, but there is a clear priority list that we want centres to take into account.

"The most important of those are those essential workers and the vulnerable children."

"I don't want parents to have to choose between feeding their kids and having their kids looked after," he added.

Meanwhile Mr Morrison says Australia has now reached a COVID-19 testing rate of more than 1000 per 100,000.

"We're the first country to the best of our knowledge that has been able to exceed that mark," the PM said.

The PM has reiterated that our COVID-19 measures could be in place for the next six months.

"We are one of the few, if only, countries that have been talking about the coronavirus pandemic as being one that we are going to have to live with for at least the next six months," he said. "I have been very clear about that.

"I really want Australians to understand that we need to be in this for the haul. It will be months. We need to make changes that we can live with and that we can implement day after day, week after week, month after month."


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