Childcare centres want the $1.6b free childcare program to run until September. But family day care providers want it to end as soon as possible.
Childcare centres want the $1.6b free childcare program to run until September. But family day care providers want it to end as soon as possible.

Split over end of free childcare

Free childcare for families during the COVID-19 pandemic is costing taxpayers $131 million a week, and is not likely to be extended beyond June.

South Australian family daycare providers are backing the Federal Government to end the support package on June 28, with the sector saying it was "not very viable" for most operators. But childcare centres argue it should be extended until September.

About 3750 SA children are enrolled in family daycare across 420 providers, while about 45,900 children attend centres.

Education Department official Dr Ros Baxter on Tuesday fronted a COVID-19 Senate inquiry, saying there were "mixed views" about the package depending on the economic impact on the business.

New figures reveal the 12-week package supporting more than 62,000 SA families has already cost $917 million of the allocated $1.6 billion.

An extension is yet to be decided but Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was "not a sustainable model for how the childcare sector should work".

Family Daycare Educators Association SA president Merrilyn Hannaford said some operators had waited up to six weeks for additional government support on half of their revenue because they were ineligible for JobKeeper.

"Bring back the childcare subsidy," she said.

A third of the workforce are estimated to be ineligible for the $1500 wage subsidy.

Halifax Street Children's Centre director Kate Ryan said she wanted free childcare extended until September, in line with JobKeeper.

Education Minister Dan Tehan said at least four weeks' notice would be given to the sector about the scheme.

Originally published as Split over end of free childcare



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