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Saturday, May 15, 2021

Child care centre hurt by relief package

Designed to help the early childhood education and child care sector, the Federal Government’s support package has left some services feeling the pinch more than ever.

For Wattle Early Childhood Centre in Lyneham, centre director Ashleigh Daly said projections for the current quarter of the financial year has them hitting a $53,000 loss, even when factoring in access to the Federal Government’s JobKeeper and child care relief packages. Originally, they were projecting a $4,000 surplus.

The child care relief package was designed for the government to pay 50% of the sector’s fee revenue up to the existing hourly rate cap, in lieu of the Child Care and Additional Child Care Subsidy payments.

It is a significant loss for the centre given there has been minimal changes to their attendance figures. The centre, which has 33 places, lost six enrolments through withdrawals or decreased days; however, Mrs Daly said they have such an extensive waiting list that these spaces were filled immediately. 

The situation is such that there are concerns the centre may not survive beyond 1 July.

“Families are contributing to us in some form or another, donating nappies, food, consumable items that are an expense to us that we are no longer able to afford.”

As a not-for-profit, Wattle Early Childhood Centre has always had a big fundraising focus but has had to rethink their plans as they can no longer participate in Bunnings sausage sizzles or host fetes. They have been fundraising through take-home meals, while they also received a donation from a family of plants which they will also sell to raise funds.

“These programs are not going to save us but every dollar helps in these situations.”

Mrs Daly said while they support the idea behind the Federal Government’s relief package, “it seems to us the package was designed as a one size fits all” without consideration for small, long day care providers and family day care models.

“The only way we can remain open is that the package has a complete overhaul and looks at the complete situation including looking at models like ours,” Mrs Daly said.

She believes there should be “some sort of means testing or eligibility” for families to be able to access the free package.

Mrs Daly said they applied for the supplementary payment from the Federal Government, however that was rejected. She hopes that when the government reviews the system, changes may be forthcoming.

“It was due to be reviewed after one month. Whether there’s any change to that we don’t know. It’s been really stressful … to try and find a solution but we can’t find one unless the government steps in to help.”

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