Keeping free child care beyond the coronavirus pandemic is not sustainable, the prime minister has warned parents.
The federal government has temporarily made child care free, guaranteeing services their taxpayer subsidies at late-February levels as long as they don’t charge parents fees.
This gives most centres about half their usual income, plus any JobKeeper wage subsidy they might be eligible for.
It was designed to stop centres closing amid collapsing enrolments as parents pull children out of care due to health fears or because they could no longer afford fees after losing work.
The measure is due to end on June 28, but the government could extend it for a further three months if needed.
Early Childhood Australia has suggested the government should guarantee two days a week of free care to all children under school age on a permanent basis.
Asked about that plan, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government’s intention had always been to return to the mixed subsidy and parental payment arrangements that were in place before the pandemic.
“Suspending the normal payment arrangements and subsidy arrangements … that is not a sustainable model for how the childcare sector should work, and nor was it intended to be,” he told reporters.
No final decision has been made whether to extend the emergency arrangements until September.