When Sevgi Yasar's daughter Melek headed off to the child care centre she loves on Thursday the family had no idea Prime Minister Scott Morrison was about to announce free care from Sunday.
Melek, 3, has been going to Wollongong Cottage Kindergarten in Atchison Street since June and loves still being able to see her friends and carers at a safe social distance while her mother works.
When Mrs Yasar heard the free childcare plan announced by the Federal Government her first reaction was "it will be great if the centre is able to remain open for families who need it".
While it will be a big help for people who still have jobs Mrs Yasar hopes the free child care will also be available for parents forced out of work by COVID-19. She knows some have pulled their children out because they can no longer afford it.
Mrs Yasar said the $1.6 billion initiative provided some certainty in an uncertain time.
"We don't know how long this is going to go on for," she said.
Mrs Yasar is now working from home and with a busy job is unable to attend to Melek's needs as much as the educators can. She said it was great to be able to keep giving the child care centre business and hopes all its staff remain employed. She knows how much her daughter misses her friends and the educators when she does not attend.
Wollongong Cottage Kindergarten owner and approved provider Meli Theofanou said the feedback from parents who have decided to keep their children at home was how much their children are missing their kindy and the educators. In response to that the child care centre has been busy developing content for them to work on at home.
"We are introducing Zoom so parents can log on at home and the children can all see each other. We are trying to stay connected for the kids".
Ms Theofanou said it was going to take a few days to work out what the new announcement will mean for the centre. She said the majority of parents were now keeping their children at home and doesn't think free child care will convince them to come back. But she knows it will be really welcome news for those whose children are still attending.
"We are welcoming what the government is doing for us financially. Whatever they can give us is great. But it just needs to be clear so we know what we are doing".
"We are looking forward to getting all the details. We offer a personalised service and want to do the right thing by everyone.If the government can help us stay open and do that it will be brilliant".
Wollongong Cottage Kindergarten has capacity for 24 children but on Thursday there were only four at the centre. Two staff are presently working while two other staff have taken leave.
"I am trying to look after my staff because at the end of all this I want them to come out of the other side of this with me," she said.
Under the Federal Government plan free child care is available for parents still using it.
It is also offering support for 13,000 childcare centres to remain open after dramatic falls in enrolment and attendances.
The plan is designed to particularly help parents still working.
And they in turn will help keep the economy moving.
The plan involves the government paying half the reasonable fee cap to centres for the next six months so long as they remain open and don't charge parents fees.
The funding will start from April 6 and will cover enrolments as they stood in the fortnight leading up to March 2.
Activity-testing of fee subsidies will be dropped while the new system is in place.
Centres are also being asked to seek to re-enroll children who have been withdrawn.
The plan starting Monday is not only designed to help parents still working but children who are vulnerable and need to be cared for
In order to receive the money every fortnight, centres must stay open and not charge parents any fees.
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