They didn't expect it to last forever but Illawarra early child care educators didn't think free childcare would end so quick.
Childcare workers will lose access to JobKeeper on July 20, eight days after the Federal Government's three-month dalliance with free childcare ends.
No other sector has so far been identified by the government as losing JobKeeper earlier than the September 27 cut-off.
United Workers Union director of early education Helen Gibbons said early childhood educators have been betrayed by the sudden withdrawal of JobKeeper and the insecurity that brings.
"Educators and their union are appalled that ECEC is the first sector to have JobKeeper removed. Just a few months ago educators were essential, now they are disposable," she said.
Tina Smith, Independent Education Union early childhood organiser for the South Coast, was perplexed the childcare sector was chosen first to prematurely lose the JobKeeper wage subsidy.
"This decision potentially leaves the entire sector - families, providers and skilled early childhood education and care professionals - in a policy and funding vacuum," Ms Smith said.
"The decision to remove the free childcare package at a time when many parents and families are still struggling immensely financially due to the economic effects of the pandemic, will add undue and unnecessary pressure on the household finances of Australian families.
"I can't see how snapping back JobKeeper so soon in the piece is going to allow many of these services to stay viable."
Little School Dapto director Danae Horsey said the concerns around the potential of losing the JobKeeper payments was already adding a significant amount of stress.
"Removing the JobKeeper payments early, that many preschools have now worked into budgets, will increase the workload for already stretched budgets and has the potential to drive up fees for many services or make preschool non viable. This in turn may cost jobs and preschool placements," Ms Horsey said.
"It's not fair to children, educators, preschools or the families and shows a complete lack of respect and value of the entire early education sector and the value early education has in shaping the future of Australia."
The sector will enter a transition period from July 3, whereby parents will go back to paying for child care under the Child Care Subsidy [CCS].
The Government though istemporarily relaxing the activity testparents have to meet to qualify for fee subsidies.
Ms Smith added the move was a "double whammy" as it severely hurt one of the most female dominated sectors.
Her views were shared by Early Childhood Australia chief executive Sam Page.
"A lot more women have either lost jobs or lost hours than men and I would've thought that involvement in early childhood was one of the best things Government could do to protect jobs for women," Ms Page told the ABC.
"Both to support women who are relying on childcare to get back to work, but also to support nearly 200,000 who work in this sector, of which 97 per cent are women."
Labor is calling on the NSW Government to support women by continuing to fund free, council-run childcare.
In NSW 94 per cent of early childhood educators are women, with a NSW Government report confirming more than half earn less than $52,000 a year.
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