CHILDHOOD PACKAGE: The new banner on display at the Goodstart Early Learning centre in Kingaroy. (Picture: Contributed)
CHILDHOOD PACKAGE: The new banner on display at the Goodstart Early Learning centre in Kingaroy. (Picture: Contributed)

New package to boost South Burnett childcare centres

A NEW $1.6 billion childcare package announced by the government will allow essential workers access to free childcare as of Monday, April 6.

Funding will be paid direct to centres on the condition they remain open, with all working Australians eligible for the benefit.

Goodstart Early Learning Kingaroy director Peta Clarkson said the new package was highly beneficial for a number of people.

“Before the package was announced we had a number of parents withdraw their kids and it wasn’t looking very good for us,” Ms Clarkson said.

“Since this package was announced we have had all of those kids come back and we are now business as usual.

“We have put in a number of measures to adhere to social distancing guidelines such as marking and X on the floors to keep families apart, vigorously cleaning everything with several sanitiser dispensers and hand cleaning stations.”

The package is set to initially run for three months and will be available to almost one million families.

For parents who have removed their children from childcare, centres can waive the gap fee, dating back to March 23.

The Australian Childcare Alliance said an overnight survey it had done had shown extraordinary figures.

“30 per cent of providers faced closure this week due to as massive, shock withdrawal of families,” ACA said.

“A further 25 per cent were not sure they could ever recover, even once the virus crises has passed.

“We welcome this package as extraordinary.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the package could provide planning certainty to early childhood education and care services at a time where enrolments and attendance are highly unpredictable.

“In this ‘new normal’ that we’re living in, it’s no longer about entitlement. It’s about need,” Mr Morrison said.

“We’re calling on all Australians to think about what they need, and to think about the needs of their fellow Australians.”

Childcare centres can also get assistance under the JobKeeper program announced this week and the cash and loan schemes also available for businesses.

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