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Families that pay to keep children at home without childcare

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Sarah Du faces a situation shared by many families in Sydney: whether to send her daughter to daycare despite stay-at-home orders and the burgeoning COVID-19 outbreak or to stay home and pay childcare fees. no reason.

The federal government has allowed child care centers to waive the gap payment charged to parents and still collect the child care subsidy, but it does not directly fund this fee relief, nor has it made it mandatory.

Software company OWNA has found that out of 200 child care services using its billing system in Sydney, 131 are not closing the gap for parents keeping their children at home. Of the 69 who waive the gap, most offer only partial relief, while 5 percent are waiving fees entirely.

Sarah Du with her children Taylor, Skylar and Riley at their Northmead home.Credit:Louise kennerly

Georgina Dent, executive director of The Parenthood, said many families were under the false impression that waiving the gap fee meant the government was increasing.

“The government is not really reaching into its pocket, it is just telling providers that they can waive the gap fee,” Ms. Dent said. “Ultimately, that is a cost they must bear themselves and it is not sustainable for many suppliers.”

Belinda Smith, director of the Advanced Early Learning Childcare Center in Merrylands, said she had chosen to waive the gap rate for families who had their children at home, but this was costing the center $ 12,000 a week.

“We will not be able to sustain it long term, and if it continues, we may lose our staff and cannot continue,” said Ms. Smith.

Ms. Du, from Northmead, has chosen to send her youngest daughter, 3-year-old Riley, to daycare while she and her husband work and the two older school-age children attend school remotely.

“It worries me every time I go there, but I do it for her,” Du said. “She is entertaining herself, she is being taught and educated instead of being at home and not getting any attention due to working parents.”

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