Childcare gap-fee waiver doesn’t cover any out-of-pocket costs

On July 15, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for Education and Youth announced what they called “additional support for New South Wales” to allow childcare services to waive gap-fees for parents keeping their children at home due to current COVID-19 restrictions.

After the news, many families who have since kept their children at home have started to find out that they are still being charged as usual for days of absence. 

It appears the federal government simply told childcare centers they are allowed to waive the gap fee for absence if they want but the won’t be compensated by the government. 

This is confusing given the Prime Minister announced the waiver as a government support to families, but not paying for it?

“When gap-fees are waived families will not have to pay any out-of-pocket costs for those days that their children are at home during the current stay at home period. This is another measure that will make life easier for many families in Greater Sydney during these challenging times.This adds to the significant financial support we have already announced in conjunction with the NSW Government to back families and businesses, and provide additional mental health support,” the Prime Minister said in the announcement.

When contacted, childcare centres explain to parents that “the waiver is actually optional as the government is not funding the gap fees”. 

Indeed, The Department of Education, Skills and Employment says on its website: “Services can choose to waive gap fees, either in full or partially, but are not required to”. 

It is understood some childcares who can afford the costs allow parents to opt in the childcare-funded waiver until July 31, but parents have to explicitly apply or call them. 

So, if you haven’t already, you have to contact your childcare provider to see if they offer the waiver as the government’s announcement appears to be confusing, misleading, and is not any form of financial assistance. It simply allows childcare centres to choose to waive the gap payment. 

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