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Free child care during the coronavirus pandemic: Here’s what we know
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By Erica Stacey

Here’s what we know about the Federal Government’s announcement that families can access free child care during the coronavirus pandemic.

What is the aim of the coronavirus pandemic free child care initiative?

In the Prime Minister’s announcement he said that the aim is to rescue the child care industry by keeping centres open while providing child care places for parents who need or wish to keep working.

When does the free child care program start and end?

The program is slated to run from April 6 to June 30, with a review after one month, and a potential three-month extension from July to September.

Who is eligible to receive free child care?

According to Education Minister Dan Tehan, speaking at a press conference on Thursday 2 April, parents who are currently sending their kids to child care will be able to do so for free. Centres have been instructed to prioritise enrolments for families who need it most, that being: parents still working, parents who are struggling to provide safe care for their kids at home, vulnerable children, and then parents who have already taken their kids out of childcare.

Can families who unenrolled their kids hold their spot or re-enrol?

As part of the scheme, child care centres who receive the payments must try to re-enrol children who have recently been taken out of child care. To help them, the Government will waive any gap fees for returning parents, backdated to March 23. This will also depend on spaces available and what your family's current work situation is.

What about families who have never enrolled their kids in child care?

If a centre has spaces open, parents who have not previously had their children in child care can enrol them for free. However, preference will be given to those families who currently have kids in child care and the other priority categories outlined above.

My child is in child care, so how will this affect my budget?

If your child care provider advises you that your payments will be free, please confirm the date from which you can cancel your future budgeted payments. Then please call or send us a secure message advising the date from which we can remove your child care payments from your budget. We can then also help you work out where the extra funds will be directed.

Want more information about financial assistance? Read or bookmark our Guide to Financial Assistance During the Coronavirus Pandemic. Lost your job or income due to coronavirus? Follow this checklist.

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