File photo: Some childcare centres are running at 50% capacity.
File photo: Some childcare centres are running at 50% capacity.

Calls for relief for childcare fees Childcare centres run at 50%

CHILDCARE centres are running at 50 per cent capacity as parents choose to keep their children at home amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

But parents are still paying the gap of childcare fees even if their children do not attend, prompting calls for the Federal Government to step in.

Stepping Stones Childcare Centre director Heather Curran said their numbers had fluctuated all week and dropped to about 50 per cent capacity on Thursday.

“At this stage parents are still paying fees even if they are choosing to keep their children at home,” she said.

“There has been a big push to get rid of the gap fee.”

Earlier this week the Federal Government relaxed childcare laws in a bid to help the sector respond to coronavirus.

As part of the changes, Education Minister Dan Tehan said childcare centres forced to close would continue to receive the subsidy.

It also increased the number of days from 42 to 62 that a child is allowed to be absent without the need for evidence, like a medical certificate, without losing the subsidy

Ms Curran said many parents had asked if she believed childcare centres would be the next to be forced to close.

She said they were evaluating the situation daily.

Parents have been recommended to keep their children at home if they can.

She said many parents had cut back on the number of days their child had attended, especially if one parent worked shift work.

“We’re just taking each day as it comes,” she said.

“While we’re running low on numbers we do have extra staff here at the moment because we’re washing and cleaning more.”

She said non-essential visitors could not enter the Bramston St premises, toys and other areas were cleaned regularly and parents were told to wait in the car if they or a sibling felt ill.



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