PM’s big childcare announcement
Parents will not be left out-of-pocket if they can't attend childcare in Melbourne during the six-week lockdown under a rescue package to be announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
For the first time, childcare centres will only be open to children whose parents or carers are essential workers, as well as for vulnerable children under Melbourne's stage four restrictions.
But families still have to pay for childcare fees when children are sick or in this case cannot attend and if they stay away for too long they even lose access to government rebates for the cost of care.
It's that concern over using up the 42 days of "allowable absences" that is again prompting a mass exodus of parents that could see more job losses.
Government sources said the new agreement the PM will announce on Wednesday will provide certainty for operators, parents and childcare workers, and follows concerns that more childcare centres could be forced to close as parents dump opt out during the lockdown.
The Morrison Government previously made childcare "free" for parents early in the pandemic and extended JobKeeper to childcare centres.
But the childcare industry was subsequently taken off JobKeeper after it emerged the wage subsidy did not cover around one-third of the workforce including casuals and workers on visas.
Premier Dan Andrews has pleaded for employers to be understanding about the pressures of juggling young children and working from home during the lockdown.
"I would also respectfully ask employers to be fully aware that these childcare arrangements, which sometimes can be central to a person working from home, the working-from-home arrangements may need to change," Mr Andrews said.
"There may need to be greater flexibility in the relationship between a person who is working from home and their boss. And I'm confident that Victorian businesses, employers, will step up and give people that added flexibility if, for instance, the absence of childcare makes the kind of working from home that's been a feature of the last few months really, really tough."
Community Child Care Association in Victoria executive director Julie Price said it was a confusing and stressful time for parents and childcare educators.
"There's just lots of confusion. Very anxious parents who have been working from home and sending kids to care are really worried about how they can get any work done with young children in the house,'' she said.
"Like everyone in Melbourne, to get hit twice is just really, really difficult. It's stressful for parents, but also centre directors and educators. It's hard going."
Originally published as PM's big childcare announcement