Here’s some great news for your Monday: NSW parents will be gifted $500 for each of their primary school children.
In a bid to ease the childcare burden and give more options for parents as they return to work, the state government will be handing out $500 vouchers for every primary schoolkid in NSW to go towards before or after school care.
Similar to the Dine and Discover programme, the vouchers can be accessed via Service NSW. They’ll be available from February 28 and if you are eligible, they will appear in your app.
The $155 million programme was created as a much-needed stimulus for the out-of-school hours care industry, which has taken a hit over the last two years of the pandemic due to lockdown and restriction uncertainty and parents working from home.
The vouchers will cover the parent gap fee, the portion paid by families after the Commonwealth-funded childcare subsidy is applied. The daily cost of before or after-school care ranges from $20 to $40, and the gap fee for middle-income parents is about half that. Though the vouchers won’t cover vacation care, they will cover roughly 60 sessions of before and after-school care.
“Before and After School Care (BASC) services are more important than ever as families return to work following the holidays,” said Premier Dominic Perrottet.
“It’s been a challenging past couple of years for parents of school-aged children. Many have had to juggle the demands of supervising their kids’ education at home while working remotely, or even forgoing paid work. These vouchers for before and after school care will help alleviate some of the financial pressures on NSW families and provide greater flexibility and more options for those who need to work.”
Though out-of-hours care services had waiting lists, pre-pandemic, since March 2020, they’ve seen a significant drop in enrolments. Craig Napier, the chief executive of Junior Adventures Group and head of the Outside School Hours Council of Australia (OSHCA), told Sydney Morning Herald attendance had fallen as low as 12% last October, when classes resumed after Delta lockdown.
Napier says he very much welcomes the NSW government initiative, noting that the government appears to understand the dire viability the sector faces. “We’re on the brink of viability,” he says.