CHILD CARE RELIEF PACKAGE AND CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) UPDATES

Updated: 23/04/2020 

The Federal Government has announced an Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package, providing access to free child care from Monday 6 April through to the end of the 2019/2020 financial year. Here are our general FAQs about free child care.

Based on clear government directives and advice, there is minimal risk to children going to school or child care.

You can watch our webinar or read more below about YMCA Children’s Programs: 


If you have further questions about our service changes please complete our contact us enquiry form.


GENERAL FAQs


Is the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package means tested? Regardless of my family income, is every parent fee free? 

The Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package is not means tested. Everyone has the same entitlements regardless of income. Essential workers will be given priority of placement at centres where maximum capacity is reached. 

 

When can we start using free child care?  

All families enrolled at Early Learning Centres, School Holiday Programs or Outside of School Hours Care (OSHC) can access free child care from Monday 6 April 2020. 

 

What are you doing to ensure it’s safe for my child to attend? 

While we already had strict hygiene practices and cleaning standards in place, as a precaution, we have introduced a number of additional measures to reduce the risk and support a safe environment. 

 

What happens if staff or child gets coronavirus (COVID-19) at one of your services? 

We will be contacting the Department of Health and following their guidelines as well as our own internal guidelines. Families will be notified if the service is impacted and has to close. 

 

If we choose to stay at home instead of sending our child to care, do you want us to continually mark our child as absent through the booking app, or should we email? 

Please email or phone your centre to confirm when your child will be absent. Staff at the centre  will action the rest. 

 

What happens to our absent days? 

As per the Government announcement, families enrolled at Early Learning Centres have access to 62 days absent days until 30 June 2020. These do not include absent days that have been used prior to this period. 

For families enrolled in OSCH however, there are no limits to absent days. 

 

How many days’ notice do we need to give to cancel a permanent booking? 

Our standard policy requires two weeks’ written notice for any withdrawal or changes to a child’s booking. At this time, we would recommend you maintain your booking as there is no payment required so this will guarantee you maintain your place when normal attendance resumes.


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EARLY LEARNING CENTRES

Our Early Learning Centres remain open to existing and newly enrolled families 

 

How do I get free care? 

Depending on your circumstances, there are now a number of options to consider. If you are: 

  • currently enrolled and attending: from Monday 6 April, you will not be charged for whether your child attends or stays home. You may like to add additional days depending on availability. Please note that prioritised access will be given to children of essential workers, vulnerable and disadvantaged children and previously enrolled children.  
  • currently using absent days: from Monday 6 April, you will no longer be required to pay the gap. There are 62 absent days available this financial year (42 standard absent days + 20 additional days for COVID-19 specific related circumstances). Families will be able to access the 20 additional days if a child is ill, quarantined or unable to attend child care due to coronavirus (COVID-19), and without the medical evidence usually required.

In relation to any further absence days (after the 62 days absence allowance period) the Government's advice is unclear at this stage so we will provide further information once we it becomes available.

Please be aware that any absent days used prior to Monday 6 April will not be covered by this relief package.

Currently within your two week cancellation notice period: You can contact your centre directly to either re-instate your enrolment or move your status to absent. This will allow you to keep your place even if your child doesn’t attend. 


What if I cancelled my child’s enrolment prior to this time?  

If you’ve recently cancelled (between 17 February and 5 April) we encourage you re-enrol. You can coose whether to attend or not – either way this will ensure you keep your place at the centre and you will also be able to claim absent days at no charge.

Re-starting your enrolment will not require you to send your child to child care and it certainly won’t require you to pay the gap fee. 


What happens after 30 June 2020?

We will continue monitoring government announcements and update families as new information is released.

 

Are all families eligible for the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package even if parents are working / working from home / not working? 

Yes. Everyone is eligible regardless of their working situation. 

 

Can I book extra days of care?

Yes, depending on availability. Please contact your relevant centre to book. Please note that prioritised access will be given to children of essential workers, vulnerable and disadvantaged children and previously enrolled children.

 

My child has previously only attended two casual days a week at one our your Early Learning Centres, mainly for socialising reasons. I am a teacher and need to send him for the whole week. Can I increase his casual days? 

Yes. If there are places available at your centre you are allowed to book them in for extra days. 

 

I had reduced from 4 days to 3 days due to COVID-19. Can I reinstate my child's booking back to 4 days? Will there be any fee or is this covered by the child care relief package?  

Yes, you can reinstate your booking back to four days at no extra charge. All childcare days will be covered by the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package. 

 

My partner and I are both emergency / essential workers. We have an 11-month-old and school-aged child. Does the government’s package cover us for both children as we have no option to work from home? 

The Government's Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package covers both childcare and OSHC. As essential workers, your school-aged child will be eligible to attend school if it is open and OSHC free of charge. 

 

Are families allowed to book extra days if they are not essential workers? 

Yes. If there are places available at your centre you are allowed to book them in for extra days 

 

How do I find out if I’m an essential worker? I’m a Kinder teacher. For now, I still have a job to go to, as does my partner and we can’t work from home. Can we send them to school? 

As a Kinder teacher you are considered an Essential Worker. If your school is open and you don't have means to teach them from home, you are able to send them to school. Please liaise directly with your child's teacher or the principle to make these arrangements. 

 

My partner is a PCA worker / ACFI coordinator and I’m currently working from home. Will we be considered priority / essential? 

All families are welcome to send their children to our Early Learning Centres. In the instance that a centre reaches capacity, we will establish which families are participating in essential services and these will be given priority access to bookings. 

 

How does the centre know what children need to be prioritised for parents working in essential fields? 

All families are welcome to send their children to our Early Learning Centres. In the instance that a centre reaches capacity, we will establish which families are participating in essential services and these will be given priority access to bookings. 

 

If we choose to stay at home instead of sending our child to care, do you want us to continually mark our child as absent through the booking app, or should we email? 

Please email or phone your centre to confirm when your child will be absent. Staff at the centre  will action the rest. 

 

How does this impact ‘absent’ days?

Families who choose to maintain their child’s enrolment yet keep them home during this time are still eligible for the funding support.

You will not be charged for the gap on these days.

 

My child goes to ELC and the booking is made for the whole year. If we don’t send him until things return to normal, will he be considered absent? Will his absent days be exhausted? 

Children that don't attend their Early Learning Centre will be considered absent. As per the Government announcement, families enrolled at Early Learning Centres have access to 62 days absent days until 30 June 2020. These do not include absent days that have been used prior to this period. 

Your booking will remain in place as long as your child is enrolled. For families enrolled in OSCH however, there are no limits to absent days. 

 

If I exceed my absent day allowance 42 + 20 (additional days for COVID-19 specific related circumstances) between now and the end of June will I get charged for the extra absent days?

As per the Government announcement, families have access to 62 days absent days until 30 June 2020. These do not include absent days that have been used prior to this period.

Families will be able to access additional days where a child is ill, quarantined or unable to attend child care due to coronavirus (COVID-19) and without the medical evidence usually required.

The Government's advice is unclear at this stage and we will provide further information once we have some clarity.

 

I will be working from home full time and doing home schooling for my grade 1 child. My other child is enrolled in four-year-old Kinder at one of your Early Learning Centres. I am worried that if I don’t send my child there, it will affect him being signed-off to go to school next year. I would like to send him, but I am not sure what to do? 

We are working on content to ensure your child remains engaged and continues to progress their education in preparation for school. You are also welcome to send your child to our kinder free of charge. Please visit our website and follow us on Facebook to receive regular ‘learning from home’ updates. 

 

How do we get daily updates about our kids day while we drop and pick them from the reception? 

We will continue to document children's learning and planning for their development throughout this time. You will still receive regular information about your child and their time with us. If you require specific information, which the educator bringing your child to you in reception cannot answer, we will provide you the information within 24 hours. 

 

What are you doing to ensure it’s safe for my child to attend?

While we already had strict hygiene practices and cleaning standards in place, as a precaution, we have introduced a number of additional measures to reduce the risk and support a safe environment.

 

With reduced supplies of food and toiletries, are your centres still able to provide our children with nutritious meals and a clean environment? 

We have been working with local suppliers and our centre cooks to ensure that we’re always able to provide your children with nutritious meals. At times, certain items may be unavailable, so we adjust our menus to ensure all children's food requirements are met. We encourage you to ask the centre staff about what food is / was provided for the day. Currently all our services have sufficient cleaning supplies to ensure our environments remain clean and hygienic. All surfaces are cleaned every 30 mins and each site has a professional clean every day. We have introduced a number of additional measures to reduce the risk and support a safe environment. 

 

Are the educators allowed to hug and hold our children in daycare? My daughter has separation anxiety when I leave and is comforted by her educators. 

Absolutely. Ensuring that your child feels safe, secure and cared for within our environment remains our highest priority and we have introduced a number of additional measures to reduce the risk and support a safe environment. 

 

Does YMCA have a checklist related to coronavirus (COVID-19) that parents need to fill in prior to sending their kids to the program? 

At this stage, we have not enacted a check list, however, families may be asked questions about coronavirus (COVID-19) and their exposure to it on arrival and collection of their child  

 

If my child gets a cold (as its winter) will they be sent home? As it’s hard for essential workers like myself to leave work to pick them up. 

We have introduced a number of additional measures to reduce the risk and support a safe environment. If any child becomes unwell, we will be following our normal processes and informing the parents to collect their child. If they are showing symptoms similar to that of coronavirus (COVID-19), we will isolate your child (under educator supervision) and call you to collect your child. We understand that being an essential worker during this time makes it challenging to collect your child, so we would work with you on this if the need arises.  

 

How many days’ notice do we need to give to cancel a permanent booking? 

Our standard policy requires two weeks’ written notice for any withdrawal or changes to a child’s booking. At this time, we would recommend you maintain your booking as there is no payment required so this will guarantee you maintain your place when normal attendance resumes.

 

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SESSIONAL KINDERGARTEN

The Victorian Government has announced it will allocate up to $45 million in extra funding to sessional kindergarten providers.

This means you can now access up to 15 hours a week of four-year-old kindergarten programs for free in Term 2.

The funding is intended to help local kindergarten services remain financially viable during this challenging period, ensuring your child has ongoing access to this formative foundation year.

Having this service available for families to attend is important, especially for essential workers and families who are experiencing hardship.

 

Will three-year-old Kinder start back up in Term 2? 

Yes, three-year-old Kinder is running in Term 2, free of charge to all families until 28 June 2020. 

 

Does the free child care apply to permanent and casual bookings? 

Yes, the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package covers permanent and casual bookings of long day care, Kindergarten for three and four-year-olds, School Holiday Programs and Before and After School Programs

 

My child is enrolled in Sessional Kindergarten. If I choose to keep them home, will we lose our spot? 

You will not lose your spot if you don't cancel your booking. Please email or phone your centre to let them know your child won't be attending. Centre staff will action the rest. 

 

My child is in Sessional Kindergarten. If we keep our child home, how can we ensure our child is not behind educationally? 

We are working on content to ensure your child remains engaged and continues to progress their education in preparation for school. Please visit our website and follow us on Facebook to receive regular ‘learning from home updates. 

 

Is online education available for kinder who wants to stay home? 

We are working on content to ensure your child remains engaged and continues to progress their education in preparation for school. Please visit our website and follow us on Facebook to receive regular ‘learning from home’ updates. 

 

We have decided to keep our child home due to immunodeficiency in the household. Is there any remote learning programs for the kids? Next year they’ll be in Prep, so it is important. 

We are working on content to ensure your child remains engaged and continues to progress their education in preparation for school. Please visit our website and follow us on Facebook to receive regular ‘learning from home’ updates. 

 

Does YMCA have a checklist related to coronavirus (COVID-19) that parents need to fill in prior to sending their kids to the program? 

At this stage, we have not enacted a check list, however, families may be asked questions about coronavirus (COVID-19) and their exposure to it on arrival and collection of their child. 

 

With reduced supplies of food and toiletries, are your centres still able to provide our children with nutritious meals and a clean environment? 

We have been working with local suppliers and our centre cooks to ensure that we’re always able to provide your children with nutritious meals. At times, certain items may be unavailable, so we adjust our menus to ensure all children's food requirements are met. We encourage you to ask the centre staff about what food is / was provided for the day. Currently all our services have sufficient cleaning supplies to ensure our environments remain clean and hygienic. All surfaces are cleaned every 30 mins and each site has a professional clean every day. We have introduced a number of additional measures to reduce the risk and support a safe environment. 

 

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OUTSIDE SCHOOL HOURS CARE (OSHC)

Following the State Government’s announcement that schools will be re-opening in a limited capacity for Term 2, we’re pleased to let you know all YMCA Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) services will be available.

It’s important to note that OSHC will only be available for students whose caregivers can’t work from home, as well as vulnerable students who don’t have access to a suitable learning environment at home.

From Wednesday 15 April onwards, OSHC will run as usual for above-mentioned families. Please check your local site for start and finish times. 

Please contact your local OSHC Coordinator via phone or email if your child will be attending to help us make sure we have the appropriate resources available.

YMCA Children’s Programs will continue to be free of charge until the end of this financial year (28 June 2020). If your child is not attending, we encourage you to use absent days rather than cancel bookings, as this will ensure your placement is secure for when services return to normal. There is no limit to absent days between now and 28 June 2020.

Find out more about our OSHC services.

 

Are all centres opening as normal for OSHC? 

Yes. All OSHC centres are open and available for those families that have children approved to attend school. 

 

Does the free child care cover school holiday programs or it is only for before and after school care? 

The Government's child care relief package covers permanent and casual bookings of long day care, Kindergarten for 3 and 4 year oldsSchool Holiday Programs and Before and After School Programs. 

 

Does the free child care apply to permanent and casual bookings? 

Yes, the Government's child care relief package covers permanent and casual bookings of long day care, Kindergarten for 3 and 4 year olds, School Holiday Programs and Before and After School Programs. 

 

What happens if you have a permanent booking for the entire year for OSHC? My child will not be attending for the time being as we can supervise them at home with online learning. Will we still be charged or do we need to cancel this booking we have made? 

You will not be charged for Term 2. We recommend you leave your bookings in place in the system for when normal attendance resumes, there is no need to cancel bookings. However, it's important to notify the OSHC Coordinator that you won't be attending via email or phone. 

 

My children have a permanent booking but I intent to keep them home while I am lucky enough to be able to work from home. Will I still be required to pay the fees? 

You will not be charged whether your child attends or stays home. 

 

My kids were enrolled for Term 1. Is enrolment to Term 2 automatic for after school care? 

Enrolment is only automatic if you have selected a permanent booking for the days your children attend. 

 

If we choose to stay at home instead of sending our child to care, do you want us to continually mark our child as absent through the booking app, or should we email? 

Please email or phone your centre to confirm when your child will be absent. Staff at the centre  will action the rest. 

 

How do I advise my centre if I will not be sending my son to OSHC, do I email or do I update My Family Lounge? 

Please email or phone your centre to confirm when your child will be absent. Staff at the centre  will action the rest. 

 

Do we mark them “Absent” in the app for after school care? 

Please email or phone your centre to confirm when your child will be absent. Staff at the centre  will action the rest. 

 

Can we email this week if our child won’t be attending next week due to home schooling? 

Please email or phone your centre to confirm when your child will be absent. Staff at the centre  will action the rest. 

 

If I am required to work extra hours and therefore need additional care, are there any extra charges for this? 

There are no extra charges, regardless of how many days care your child is booked into childcare. 

 

Do session hours still apply? If we need additional hours / days of care due to extra hours of work do we need to update this on our Centrelink? 

There are currently no session hours being recorded during this period so children are able to attend as many hours as required. 

 

If we have booking in OSCH, but we need full day care (being part of medical staff) can we transition from OSHC to full day care in a particular day? 

If your school is open and you don't have means to teach them from home you are able to send them to school. Please liaise directly with your child's teacher or the principle to make these arrangements. 

 

I had reduced from four days to three days due to coronavirus (COVID-19). Can I reinstate my child's booking back to four days? Will there be any fee or is this covered by the child care relief package? 

Yes, you can reinstate your booking back to four days at no extra charge. All childcare days will be covered by the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package. 

 

I work in a hospital and my kids are enrolled in after school care. Is there anything I need to do to get the free care? 

If your child is enrolled, there is nothing else you need to do to receive free childcare. 

 

Is there access to full day care for school children? We are essential workers and currently only have after school care. 

As essential workers that aren't able to home school, your child is eligible to attend school and received free OSHC sessions until 28 June 2020. 

 

Myself and my partner are both emergency / essential workers, at present we also have a 11-month-old baby. At present our older child has not been needing to use the OSCH care, due to my partner being off on parental leave. My partner returns to work in two weeks and therefore we need to start the OSCH sessions. Does the Government’s package still cover us? As there is no option to not work or work from home due to the work we do? 

As essential workers that aren't able to home school, your child is eligible to attend school and received free OSHC sessions until 28 June 2020. 

 

My partner and I are both emergency / essential workers. We have an 11-month-old and school-aged child. Does the government’s package cover us for both children as we have no option to work from home? 

The Government's Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package covers both childcare and OSHC. As essential workers, your school-aged child will be eligible to attend school if it is open and OSHC free of charge. 

 

If you have an existing OSHC booking and will be home schooling, do you have to cancel that booking? My preference is to not cancel as we want to use this service once school resumes as normal. 

There is no need to cancel your booking as you will not be charged whether you attend or not. Please email or phone your OSHC Coordinator to let them know you won't be attending. They will action the rest. 

 

My child is booked permanently in the Outside School Care Program 3x a week. With the home learning that has been put in place by the Government, do we still need to cancel our permanent booking or should we just inform the centre that our child will be studying at home until further notice? My concern is I would like to secure my child’s booking - we want to secure her spot. 

There is no need to cancel your booking as you will not be charged whether you attend or not. Please email or phone your OSHC Coordinator to let them know you won't be attending. They will action the rest. 

 

What are the policies in daycare for when a child is noticed to be unwell by an educator? Are there stricter guidelines now with corona virus (COVID-19)? 

We have introduced a number of additional measures to reduce the risk and support a safe environment. If any child becomes unwell, we will be following our normal processes and informing the parents to collect their child. If they are showing symptoms similar to that of coronavirus (COVID-19), we will isolate your child (under educator supervision) and call you to collect your child. We understand that being an essential worker during this time makes it challenging to collect your child, so we would work with you on this if the need arises. 

 

Does YMCA have a checklist related to coronavirus (COVID-19) that parents need to fill in prior to sending their kids to the program? 

At this stage, we have not enacted a check list, however, families may be asked questions about coronavirus (COVID-19) and their exposure to it on arrival and collection of their child 

 

I have heard that as of 1 May 2020, the influenza vaccine will need to be given to anyone coming into centres (staff and visitors). Do YMCA centres require this?  

This information has since changed. Staff and visitors are recommended, but not required, to have the influenza vaccine. 

 

With reduced supplies of food and toiletries, are your centres still able to provide our children with nutritious meals and a clean environment? 

We have been working with local suppliers and our centre cooks to ensure that we’re always able to provide your children with nutritious meals. At times, certain items may be unavailable, so we adjust our menus to ensure all children's food requirements are met. We encourage you to ask the centre staff about what food is / was provided for the day. Currently all our services have sufficient cleaning supplies to ensure our environments remain clean and hygienic. All surfaces are cleaned every 30 mins and each site has a professional clean every day. We have introduced a number of additional measures to reduce the risk and support a safe environment. 

 

I have asked for my child’s after school care to be cancelled as he has not and will not be attending due to COVID-19. Will he lose his placement? 

As you have cancelled care, when things return to normal we cannot guarantee this place will still be available. Placements will depend on enrolled numbers when you decide to re-start attendance. Our recommendation is to reinstate your enrolment to maintain your place. You will not be charged for this.  

 

How many days notice do we need to give to cancel a permanent booking? 

Our standard policy requires two weeks’ written notice for any withdrawal or changes to a child’s booking. At this time, we would recommend you maintain your booking as there is no payment required so this will guarantee you maintain your place when normal attendance resumes. 

 

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CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) ADDITIONAL HYGIENE PRACTICES

 

The following are being implemented across the YMCA Early Learning Centres, School Holiday Programs and Before and After School Programs: 

  • sanitising all surfaces and frequent touch points every 30 minutes

  • providing sanitiser at all entry points of centres

  • displaying guidelines for hand washing, social distancing and risk minimisation measures

  • staff have completed the accredited Department of Health COVID-19 infection control training course

  • distributing eWater cleaning solutions to families where it’s available

  • replacing all scheduled incursions and excursions with in-house activities

  • reinforcing to staff the importance of monitoring their own health and are advising that if they feel unwell or are showing signs of illness they must remain at home

  • all staff and children must wash their hands upon entry and each site will have an increased amount of sanitizer available

  • children are washing their hands hourly, as well as after toileting, before food and when coming inside

  • children are not be permitted to play with clay or play doh

  • professional cleaning is being undertaken in our centres every night.


Social distancing practices

  • Children are separated between indoor and outdoor spaces to ensure that there is enough space between each child.

  • All centres have cancelled ‘mat time’ until further notice.

  • For parents and guardians - parents / guardians are not permitted past centre reception with sign in and sign out taking place at the entrance.

  • Centre staff are completing the sign in / out process to minimise touch points for parents / guardians.

  • No visitors permitted in centre.


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CONTACT US ENQUIRY FORM 

We understand you may have questions about our recent service changes and how they relate to your family.

Please complete the form below and a member of our team will be in touch shortly to discuss your enquiry.

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