Musical chairs at Brights Sparks Child Development Centre.
Musical chairs at Brights Sparks Child Development Centre.

End of free childcare surprises Clarence provider

THE Federal Government’s decision to end free child care on July 12 has caught the industry by surprise says one local provider.

The approved provider at Bright Sparks Child Development Centre in Grafton, John Gorrie, said he had yet to “crunch the numbers” to see what effect the surprise move would have on the business.

“From July 13 parents will have to start paying the gap between the childcare subsidy payments and the childcare fee,” he said.

“For many of our clients that’s been about $24 or $25 a day,” he said.

The government’s decision will return the sector to the previous means tested childcare subsidy scheme, although there will be some transition funding for the sector and help for parents whose circumstances have been hit by the pandemic.

JobKeeper will end from July 20 for employees of providers, but there will be a $708 million in funding for services to replace JobKeeper from July 13 until September 27.

This funding will pay childcare services 25 per cent of the fee revenue they received before COVID

Mr Gorrie said numbers of children at Bright Sparks could fall if the government income support dried up or parents were not employed when the government subsidies ended.

Despite the suddenness of the decision Mr Gorrie said the government support for childcare had been “quite good” during the COVID-19 restrictions.

He said Bright Sparks had been able to keep most of its employees on JobKeeper payments and used times of low pupil numbers to do staff training.

Mr Gorrie said the big issues for his business and many others would arise from what happened when the government’s wage subsidies cut out in about 12 weeks.

“If people are not employed, studying or volunteering they may not be eligible for childcare subsidies and in this area it means they may not be able to afford to send their children to childcare, until it’s the year before they go to school,” Mr Gorrie said.

“Most people require some sort of government assistance in order to access quality childcare for their children.”



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