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‘Crunch time’: Outside school care services facing collapse

“This is so important for the sector but also so important for working families and vulnerable children, I can’t reiterate that enough.”

But federal Education Minister Alan Tudge said broader support was already being offered through the government’s financial aid for businesses and individuals.

“Many OSHC workers are casuals, meaning services have more flexibility over their workforce costs,” Mr Tudge said. “If OSHC workers have lost hours, they are eligible to apply for the COVID Disaster Payment.”

Pakenham single mother and university student Bernadette, who chose not to give her last name, uses outside school care for her five-year-old child every day and does not have a back-up plan if the service closes.

Single mother Bernadette is not sure what she would do without outside school hours care services.

Single mother Bernadette is not sure what she would do without outside school hours care services.

“I would have no idea what I would do,” she said. “I don’t have any family and limited friends around where I live to support me. I would have to battle on; it would give me extra stress if the service was not available.”

Bernadette said she hoped outside school hours care would be recognised for its importance to families and supported throughout the pandemic.

Labor Education spokeswoman Amanda Rishworth said if lockdowns continued, tailored federal support must be provided to early learning services.

“It is incumbent on the Morrison government to work with the sector to ensure families that need out of school hours care, both now and into the future, are able to access it. If parents can’t, it will put a handbrake on our economic recovery,” she said.

The Victorian state government allocated $81.6 million in its recent budget to increase outside school hours care services at government schools. Grants will be rolled out from now until 2023.

“By creating more outside school hours care services, we are helping parents and carers to get back to work, study, training or re-enter the workforce as part of Victoria’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic,” Education Minister James Merlino said.

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