The NSW government will provide up to $82 million to help 260 council-run childcare centres that had missed out on federal support packages remain viable during COVID-19.
The measure comes after an outcry from councils who said a flaw in the government’s previously announced childcare policy, coupled with the exclusion of council workers from the JobKeeper payment, had left them out of pocket.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the funding on Thurday as she unvield a $50 million package to provide free preschool for up to six months.
“That means child care centres run by local governments don’t have to worry about the additional cost of keeping staff on and providing the vital services,” the Premier told reporters.
Local government minister Shelley Hancock said she hoped the announcement would give councils peace of mind.
She acknowledged that the JobKeeper decision had resulted in a significant funding shortfall for councils, who are the largest providers of in the state and said the latest measure recognised the importance of councils and their value to local communities
“This new funding will provide councils with certainty during an unpredictable time, ensuring childcare educators can be confident they will remain employed,” she said in an email to councils.
“Families and children can now also be assured that their preschool service will continue to operate, providing some familiarity for them during these trying times.”
The funding also means community preschools and council childcare centres should remain open, unless they are closed on health advice, the minister said.
Meanwhile, council-run childcare centres may be eligible for exceptional circumstances supplementary payments under the government’s child care relief package.
The payment is available for providers who need a “top up” on base relief payment it may be getting through the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package.
State and national peak local government bodies had united to call for support for council-run childcare, warning it could lead to closures of childcare centres around the country.
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