With COVID-19 having an impact on employment as well as attendance rates at early childhood services, the Federal Government announced measures to support families and encourage early childhood services to remain open.
In April, the Federal Government introduced the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package. The package delivered free childcare for families at long day care services from 6 April to 12 July.
For Nina Cook, whose two children Benjamin, 4 years old, and Joshua, 2 years old, were both attending KU Lance Children's Centre five days per week, the package was a blessing.
“When I first heard about the government’s relief package I thought ‘I hope this lasts for the next three years’,” she laughed.
“The free fees were a huge help for us. The usual fees we pay are very expensive – they’re a huge cost to our family.”
Nina works full time as a Project Manager and her husband Matthew owns his own locksmith business.
With their two children attending KU Lance, the family was paying about $115 per child per day, or about $1,150 per week. This is after receiving the Child Care Subsidy, which reduces the daily fee charged.
After the introduction of the relief package, the cost of childcare was free for the family over the three-month period. This allowed Nina and Matthew to put some savings towards other areas such as their mortgage or other major expenses.
Despite the significant costs of childcare, Nina has seen the positive impact that a high-quality early childhood education and care program can have on children.
“We love KU Lance. It has a great community, and the team is fantastic. The educators have really supported the learning and development of our children over the years, and we couldn’t be happier,” said Nina.
“The main thing for me though is that our children love it. Whenever we drop them off or pick them up from the centre, they are happy.”
“I definitely think more could be done to subsidise the cost of childcare in Australia. The fees are very expensive, and children shouldn’t have to miss out on a quality early learning program.”