Commenting on detail of new funding arrangements for childcare services
27 January 2021
“What we are learning through media reports is that existing supports have been extended for five weeks in line with the lockdown extension. While welcome, this only addresses half of the problem.
“There are tens of thousands of children who either do not qualify or only partially qualify under the scheme which today’s announcement covers. It may be as many as only half of the over 200,000 children who depend on childcare providers. Today’s update offers no clarity to the parents and carers of these children.
“Furthermore, the manner in which it has been communicated appears to be an attempt to pitch parents against providers. Our relationships with parents are strong. Parents are understandably seeking answers from us yet we, like them, remain in the dark on key issues.
“The reality of the situation for providers is stark. Providers who are open are maintaining employment for all their staff, carrying costs, and making fee arrangements with parents. Capacity is at best 30% and in many instances as little as 10%. Without an agreed and comprehensive plan, this is simply not sustainable.
“Additional support is promised but we have no meaningful details or engagement. Given that lockdown is now extended for a further six weeks, this leaves providers and those who depend on us in an extremely difficult situation.
“We recognise that trying to provide certainty during a pandemic is an enormous challenge. However, if Government continues to plan in hours and days instead of weeks and months, parents and providers will continue to have uncertainty.
“We have been here three times now in less than a year yet we are not applying the learnings from these experiences. What is required is a framework within which we can manage the delivery of childcare services. COVID-19 is with us in some form for the remainder of the year and that means childcare will continue to be challenged. Our ability to meet the challenge hinges on our capacity to put a framework in place that is flexible to respond in good time to this ongoing situation. This will avoid incomplete decisions and the confusion, uncertainty and frustration they result in.
“We recognise this is a complex issue and that existing supports are of value. We remain committed to engaging in meaningful collaboration with government in developing solutions that are informed, workable and timely.”