Free childcare to help Penola families through pandemic

Mel Leibhardt And Ted  TBW Newsgroup
CHILDCARE SUPPORT: McKay's Children's Centre worker Mel Leibhardt, pictured with Ted, has welcomed the Federal Government's groundbreaking $1.6b free childcare program.

Mel Leibhardt And Ted TBW Newsgroup
CHILDCARE SUPPORT: McKay’s Children’s Centre worker Mel Leibhardt, pictured with Ted, has welcomed the Federal Government’s groundbreaking $1.6b free childcare program.

PENOLA and Coonawarra families will benefit from free childcare during the coronavirus pandemic as the Federal Government works to support essential jobs to keep the economy moving.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the groundbreaking $1.6b program earlier this month – which will provide support to Australia’s 13,000 childcare centres to remain open – and form part of a new childcare system.

The economic lifeline follows plummeting enrolments and attendance at childcare centres across the country, with parents withdrawing their children as a result of COVID-19.

McKay Children’s Centre director Olivia Thomas said the centre had been working hard to retain staff and provide essential childcare to families.

“In the short term and long term we are working hard to retain our staff so our service is not in jeopardy and parents can still utilise our service when needed,” she said.

“We are working through the implications for families and for us as a centre and have put in precautions such as additional cleaning hours and requirements to keep our staff and the children safe.

“We are open for families who require care.”

Mr Thomas despite the facility remaining open, a number of families had already decided to self-isolate.

“Carers are available for families who do not have the option to self-isolate and work in essential industries,” she said.

“It has impacted our service just like everyone else.”

Under the government’s plan, the government will pay half of the childcare’s revenue based on a period of time before parents started removing children from facilities in response to COVID-19.

The funding will apply to facilities from April 6 and will be based on the number of children who were in care at the centre before March 2 – regardless of whether or not they were attending.

The means and activity-testing of fee subsidies will be abolished while the new system is in place.

The changes will remain in place until June 28.