COVID-19 support and resources

As information is changing or being updated so swiftly, we tend to include links only to the main information page, and ask you to follow the links from there, to be sure that you are accessing the most recent information. 

Key contact points

 

Stage 4 restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne (updated 9 August)

From 6pm on Sunday 2 August, if you live in metropolitan Melbourne, Stage 4 restrictions apply.

  • A curfew is in place between the hours of 8pm until 5am. This means you must be at your home during these hours. The only reasons to leave home between 8pm and 5am will be work, medical care and caregiving.

  • The four reasons that you can leave home remain, but further limitations are now in place for:
    • shopping for food or other essential items
    • exercise (applies to outdoor exercise, and with only one other person)
    • permitted work

Caregiving, for compassionate reasons or to seek medical treatment also remains a permitted reason to leave home.

As much as you can, you must stay at home. When you leave home, you must use a face covering, unless you have a lawful reason for not doing so.

From 11:59pm on 13 September stage 4 restrictions will change (added 8 September)

  • The curfew across metropolitan Melbourne will be eased to 9pm to 5am.
  • Restrictions on public gatherings ease - 2 people or a household can meet outdoors for 2 hours maximum.
  • If you live alone or are a single parent with all your children under 18 you will be able to have 1 nominated visitor to your home.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) roadmap (added 8 September)

Access to childcare - Worker permits (updated 8 September)

As at 8 September, it is our understanding that if a parent had a valid permit during the initial phase of the permit period will continue to be eligible until the permit requirement ceases on 28 September.

During Stage 4 restrictions, services may remain open to provide education and care for those children whose parents or carers are permitted workers and for vulnerable children. After much confusion, we now know that this means:

In a one parent family, that parent must provide you with either:

In a 2 parent family, one parent must provide you with either:

You do not need a permit from both parents. Both carers do not have to be permitted workers to access childcare - but the government is asking that Victorians only access childcare and kinder services if they have to. 

The onus is on parents and their employers to provide a permit which approves them to access childcare. It is not your responsibilty as a service provider to decide whether a parent is eligible for such a permit. If you believe that parents are accessing childcare on the basis of an incorrect permit, non-urgent crime and events, as well as breaches of the Chief Health Officer’s directives, can be reported to the Police Assistance Line on 131 444 or by submitting an online report.

The government issued an initial list of permitted work premises and then a revised list of permitted work premises which may be of assistance.

For more details, please visit the DET Worker Permit Scheme webpage and the DHHS Business & Industry Stage 4 restrictions webpage.

As an employer you must issue all your staff with a Permitted Worker Permit or a Permitted Worker Permit (including childcare) (if they need and are elgible to access childcare). Depending on their roster you may need to update this permit during the period of the restrictions. Please ensure that your staff carry their permit at all times when travelling to and from work. Additional queries about the permits are answered here.

A range of permits is also available for parents who are students or who live in Melbourne and work in regional Victoria:

Access to childcare - Vulnerable children

  • Vulnerable children are eligible to attend care and do not need their parent or guardian to provide a worker permit. 
  • Examples include those in out of home care or known to child protection, medically/socially vulnerable children, Koori children
  • There is a broad degree of provider discretion to allow access - if you feel a family fits this category, they probably do
  • To assist them, we recommend you provide them with a letter indicating their eligibility - Download template letter

COVID safe plan required

All businesses that are allowed to remain open must have a COVID safe plan which is regularly updated.

Your pandemic action plan may well suffice - you might like to relabel it as a COVID safe plan.

You can access an ACA template here and further advice from Business Victoria 

 

Stage 3 restrictions in Regional Victoria (updated 9 August)

From 11:59pm, 5 August 2020 if you live in regional Victoria, Stage 3 Stay at Home restrictions apply. 

Under the new restrictions there are only four reasons that you can leave home: 

  • to shop for food and necessary goods or services
  • to provide care, for compassionate reasons or to seek medical treatment
  • to exercise or for outdoor recreation
  • for work or education, if you can’t do it from home

You must wear a face covering when you leave home - see below for more on face coverings.

A COVID safe plan is recommended for regional Victorian businesses that remain open.

Your pandemic action plan may well suffice - you might like to relabel it as a COVID safe plan.

You can access an ACA template here and further advice from Business Victoria 

 

Federal Government response to Stage 4 restrictions - additional support for services & families (updated 9 August)

  • All Victorian families will receive an additional 30 days, or six weeks, of allowable absences from childcare (Melbourne & regional)
  • The transition payment will be increased to 30% (Melbourne only)
  • Services whose average CCS rate is less than 50 per cent and who see a reduction in attendances to below 30 per cent will receive additional payments of between 10 and 25 per cent. This will be calculated by DESE once session reports have been submitted for the fortnight beginning 10 August. (Melbourne only)
  • All OSHC services will be paid 15 per cent of their revenue from 6 August, in addition to the 25 per cent Transition Payment and the Child Care Subsidy (Melbourne & regional)

To assist you in calculating your likely revenue during this time, we have created asimple  Stage 4 Restrictions Revenue Calculator

You may also be able to access the Victorian Government Business Support Fund- Expansion grant of $10,000 for businesses in metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire and $5000 for businesses in the rest of Victoria. If you have already applied for this second round of the Business Support Fund (Expansion) grant, or have received your funds, you will not need to re-apply.

Applications for grants are open until 14 September - apply here

As a condition of eligibility is involvment in the JobKeeper scheme, we note that the grant guidelines state "An early childhood service provider will be eligible if it was a participant in the JobKeeper Payment scheme on or before 20 July 2020."

 

Managing your staff during a period of reduced occupancy (updated 9 August)

We sought legal advice on managing staff during this period of anticipated lower occupancy, in light of the employment guarantee that forms part of the Transition Agreement you have most likely signed with the federal government. 

Please be sure to read it with the employment guarantee in mind.

 

Employment Guarantee in the Transition agreement

The Employment Guarantee reflects the Department and the community’s expectation that services will look after their educators and their staff, permanent and casual. As the Transition Payment is paid in lieu of JobKeeper it should be used to support educators and employees and should be passed on through wages and payments. 
 
The Department considers that standing down permanent staff without pay is inconsistent with the Employment Guarantee. 
 
Services which do not fulfil the conditions of the Transition Payment will be investigated and may be required to repay transition payments and may lose access to future payments. Concerned employees or parents should speak with their provider in the first instance, and can escalate matters to the tipoff line on 1800 664 231 or tipoffline@dese.gov.au

 

Fee relief (waiving the gap) (open to all services in Victoria) (updated 9 August)

The Government will allow all services (including OSHC) located in areas subject to Stage 3 COVID-19 restrictions or higher to waive parent gap fees if children are not attending child care for COVID-related reasons from Monday 13 July. As of 11.59pm on Wednesday 5 August, this includes all services in Victoria.

Please read Minister Tehan's original media release here.

As a service provider you will want to consider whether and in which circumstances you will waive gap fees, including whether you require notice of non-attendance.

ACA President Paul Mondo and ACAV President Sarah Tullberg presented a webinar on this issue on Friday 10 July. You can access the following resources:

 

Face coverings in Victoria (updated 9 August)

  • Until midnight on 13 September (unless extended) all Victorians will be required to wear a face covering when leaving home 
  • Unless an exception applies, you must wear a face covering when you leave your home. This includes travelling on public transport, or with people outside of your household.
  • You are not required to wear a face covering when driving with someone from your household, or if you are driving for work purposes on your own, for example, if you are a delivery driver.
  • You must carry a face covering with you when leaving home, even if you don’t need to wear it while undertaking your current activity. For example, you can take your face covering off to eat or while you are running, but you must carry it with you and put it back on when you finish.

Exemptions

  • Children under the age of 12 (Please note and advise your families: children under two years should never wear a face mask due to choking and strangulation risks)
  • For the full list of exemptions please visit DHHS

Practical application in early learning services

  • Working with children - face covering not required, however if staff wish to wear do so they should not be discouraged 
  • On the way to and from work – face covering required (but not if travelling by car)
  • When in the staff room or a small office space with more than one person - face covering required 
  • For any interaction with families – face covering required
  • When temperature testing children - face covering recommended

Seeing other people wearing masks: helpful resource for talking to children about mask wearing

 

Health Advice

The continued advice from the Victorian Chief Health Officer and the Victorian Government is that ECEC services remain safe for staff and children.

DET current health advice (added 8 September)

 

What happens if you have a case of COVID-19 in your service (updated 9 August)

In early August a dedicated and specialised team was established in DHHS to provide end-to-end support for early childhood services required to close because of a confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) case associated with the service. Services affected by a confirmed COVID-19 case will be assigned a case manager to ensure services are supported throughout the process. A new hotline will be open 8.00am to 8.00pm weekdays and 8.00am to 6.00pm on weekends. The number is 1800 338 663.

If you become aware of a case in your service directly from parents or staff,  call the hotline on 1800 2338 663 and download our ACTION PLAN and follow the steps, which involve multiple notifications and deep cleaning. DET has also provided this useful page.

The decision to close an ECEC service will be made on the advice of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in Victoria. If you are directed to close, you will also be directed what to do and who to notify. 

Unfortunately you may not receive timely advice from DHHS on whether to close or not. As at 9 August, there were still delays, but we are hopeful that the new process outlined above will begin soon to streamline cases. Keep in touch with your case manager as much as possible. If you continue to be hampered by delays, please contact us on 03 9532 2017.

DHHS is meant to conduct contact tracing of anyone who may have been exposed, but this is not being done in a timely manner and you may wish to do it yourself.

In broad terms, if you have a case and are required to close, this may be for any length of time from 24 hours to 2-3 weeks unfortunately, depending on the circumstances.

You will eventually be advised by DHHS of the length of closure and steps required to reopen. You may not reopen until you are authorised to do so by DHHS.

You may claim CCS for all enrolled children during the time you are closed. You must not charge your families any fees.

We have crafted a letter which you may like to share with your families, explaining  the difficulties and delays 

DET: Fact Sheet: Cleaning and disinfecting after a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19)

Smart Cleaning Solutions: Deep clean checklist

PLEASE CALL ACAV OFFICE ON 03 9532 2017 IF YOU ARE STRUGGLING TO GET PROMPT ADVICE FROM DHHS

The DET Communications Pack includes the following documents

  • Letter to parents, carers and staff (confirming case but no closure)
  • Letter to parents, carers and staff (confirming case and closure)
  • Suggested media lines
  • Q&As on an ECEC service closure

 

Cleaning grants (added 11 August)

Additional funding will be available for services across Victoria that are required to close and undertake an infectious clean as a result of a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19). For each room where kindergarten programs are delivered, $1,500 will be provided towards the cost of an infectious clean. This is on top of the cleaning and hygiene grants that have been provided to all funded kindergarten services.

 

Transition back to the CCS from 13 July 2020

Summary: From 13 July 2020, the following rules apply:

  • services will claim the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) and be able to charge parents fees
  • service providers will receive a Transition Payment of 25 per cent of your fee revenue during the relief package reference period (17 February to 1 March) until 27 September
  • All requirements of the Family Assistance Law apply  - Resources to help you comply with the Family Assistance Law
  • Activity Test exemptions will apply (from 13 July to 4 October) - see below
  • Early learning services will no longer be eligible to receive JobKeeper (with effect from 20 July)
  • Child Care Community Fund (CCCF) Special Circumstances grants will also be available to support services experiencing viability issues. This support will be targeted at services in areas of limited supply, and ensure families in regional, rural, remote areas and areas of disadvantage continue to have access to care.

Conditions
There are some conditions to be met in order to receive the Transition Payment:

  1. Service providers cannot increase fees beyond what they were charging in February
  2. Service providers must maintain employment levels - see clause 10 of the Transition Grant Agreement for details of the employment guarantee

Families who have had their hours of activity reduced as a result of COVID-19, will be able to advise Services Australia (Centrelink) they meet the requirements to access 100 hours per fortnight of subsidised care for up to 12 weeks. This can be done through their Centrelink online account through myGov or the Express Plus Centrelink mobile app from 13 July 2020

 

More information

 

Updated CCS Rates

All CCS rates (Income test, annual cap and hourly rate cap) increased with effect from 13 July 2020

 

Templates 

 

Webinar presentations & replays

 

Other ​​Business Support

 

Earlier materials