As Sydney enters an additional two weeks in stage 3 lockdown, parents advocacy group The Parenthood is urgently calling on the Federal and NSW governments to waive gap fees for early childhood education and care in circumstances where families are unable to use the services.
“Waiving the gap fee to ensure parents in Greater Sydney who are following the stay-at-home orders aren’t out of pocket for a service they can’t use for the duration of the lockdown is absolutely crucial,” The Parenthood’s Executive Director Georgie Dent said.
Across Greater Sydney parents and carers are having to adjust their work and care arrangements amid the heightened risk presented by the Delta-outbreak.
“Whether or not families continue to use early learning services depends on the type of work of the parents, as well as the risk in the area they live. Families who choose to follow the stay-at-home orders and keep their children home shouldn’t be expected to be out of pocket for a service they aren’t using,” Dent said.
During Melbourne’s long lockdown in 2020 gap fees were waived for families who couldn’t access early childhood education and care. Dent said the same is needed for parents and educators in Sydney now.
“Waiving the gap fee doesn’t cost the Federal government a cent but it means parents aren’t being forced to pay for a service they’re not accessing and early learning services are still able to pay the wages of educators and staff,” Dent said.
“Parents and educators in Sydney deserve the same support that parents and educators in Melbourne received last year,” she said.
On Wednesday NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced that the lockdown in Sydney, that started on 26 June, would continue for “at least” two more weeks until 30 July 2021.
The stay-at-home orders in place mean that parents across Greater Sydney are caught between trying to do the right thing and keep their children home if that’s possible, and having to pay for a service they can’t use.
“Parents know that withdrawing their children from services is the only way to avoid paying fees but they realise that puts educators and services in a difficult position. And it also means they could be without early learning and care when the lockdown ends.”
“The COVID19 pandemic created significant challenges for parents and the early education sector in 2020 and the latest outbreak is no different. The Morrison and Berejiklian governments need to act urgently to support parents and educators,” Dent said.