Help in an emergency

Help is available for families and early childhood education and care services in an emergency, like bushfires, cyclones, or floods. Support includes gap fee waivers, extra absences and support for service closures.

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Last updated on 17/01/2024

What is a period of emergency?

A Child Care Subsidy (CCS) period of emergency supports families and services during and immediately after an emergency.

We may declare a CCS period of emergency for an event that:

  • affects a widespread area
  • has a severe impact on the lives of a significant number of people in that area, and
  • prevents children from attending a service or may make attending dangerous.

All these conditions must apply for us to declare a CCS period of emergency.

Events not considered a CCS period of emergency include:

  • break-ins
  • vandalism
  • localised storm damage or minor flooding
  • burst water pipes or plumbing problems
  • mould issues
  • short term power outages.

These types of issues should be included in your insurance policy.

When we declare a CCS period of emergency

When there is a natural disaster or major weather event underway, we:

  • monitor information provided by emergency agencies
  • determine whether the event constitutes a CCS period of emergency
  • declare a CCS period of emergency, when appropriate.

We’ll tell providers and services when we declare a CCS period of emergency. We’ll let you know the regions covered by the CCS period of emergency and the dates that it applies.

To get this information, you must ensure your contact details, particularly email addresses, are up to date in the Child Care Subsidy System. Check this via the Provider Entry Point (PEP) or your third-party software.

Support during a CCS period of emergency

When we declare a CCS period of emergency, providers, services and families can access a range of support measures.

Gap fees

During a period of emergency, you can waive the gap fee for families if:

  • a child does not attend care
  • your service is closed as a direct result of the emergency.

Gap fee waivers do not apply for partial closures or if children have attended part of the day.

Find out more about gap fees.

Absences

During a CCS period of emergency, families in affected regions won’t have to use their annual allocation of allowable absences.

Children who live or attend a service in an affected region will get extra allowable absences for the duration of the CCS period of emergency.

Emergency absences will be automatically applied in the Child Care Subsidy System when we declare a CCS period of emergency.

Family Assistance Law provisions will continue to apply during the period of emergency:

  • absences must occur between a child’s first and last physical attendance at your service, unless an approved reason applies
  • a child’s enrolment will end if they do not attend care for 14 weeks in a row – this is known as the 14-week rule.

The following support will be available immediately after the CCS period of emergency ends:

  • families can get additional absences if they’ve exhausted their allocation for the year
    • for 28 days after the end of a CCS period of emergency, if a child is unable to attend
    • for 7 days after the end of a CCS period of emergency, if a family decides the child should not attend
  • families can get CCS for absences that occur in the 7 days before their first, or after their last, attendance.

Information for families about absences is available on the Services Australia website.

Service closures

We don’t usually pay CCS when a service is closed.

During a CCS period of emergency, you will continue to receive payments if you close as a direct result of the emergency. For example, if your service is not safe to enter or staff are unable to travel to the service because of the emergency.

If your service remains closed following the CCS period of emergency, you cannot continue to receive payments.

If your service can operate during the CCS period of emergency and you decide to remain closed, you won’t receive payments.

You must tell us if you temporarily close your service, for any reason and for any period. Do this using the PEP or your third-party software.

You also need to tell your state or territory regulatory authority.

Your state and territory government may have rules on when and how communities should protect themselves during an emergency. For guidance on whether to close during an emergency, please contact your state or territory regulatory authority.

Finding care

Families can search for vacancies at approved services on StartingBlocks.gov.au.

Caring for displaced children

You can take on displaced children from another service during a CCS period of emergency. CCS will be paid as per any other enrolled child.

You must not exceed your licensed number of places when taking on displaced children. If you need more places, contact your state or territory regulatory authority.

Preparing for an emergency

Emergencies can strike without warning. It's important to prepare for all sorts of emergencies and plan for your risk.

Identify the types of disasters you may be exposed to and the likelihood of these occurring, and make sure you:

  • have an appropriate level of insurance cover in place
  • back up and secure your data
  • understand the support provided during a CCS period of emergency
  • update your contact details in the Child Care Subsidy System.

Business.gov.au has more guidance on preparing your business for an emergency.

Recovery after an emergency

Community Child Care Fund

The Community Child Care Fund (CCCF) special circumstances grant helps services stay open when something unexpected happens, such as an emergency. You can apply for a special circumstances grant when an emergency or disaster threatens your ability to stay open.

You should apply after the event and once you have already accessed other available government disaster support. Consideration of applications is on a case by case basis, subject to meeting the eligibility criteria.

Additional Child Care Subsidy

Families experiencing temporary financial hardship due to an emergency that happened in the last 6 months may be eligible for Additional Child Care Subsidy.

Other government payments

The Australian Government provides a range of payments and services for individuals recovering from a major disaster. Find information about payments during an emergency on the Services Australia website.

Mental health support

Emergencies and disasters can have a profound impact on mental health. Knowing how to look after yourself, and others, is important for recovery.

Emerging Minds has resources to support adults and children before, during and after a disaster in its Community Trauma Toolkit.

Find more mental health resources on the Be You website.

COVID-19

The Australian Government provided support to the early childhood education and care sector between April 2020 and June 2023 to manage the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Targeted COVID-19 support has ended.

Learn about COVID-19 support for the early childhood education and care sector.

Get the latest health advice from the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care.

More information

Update your contact details in the Child Care Subsidy System so you don’t miss important information. Do this via the PEP or through your third-party software.

You can also stay up to date by subscribing to our newsletter and joining our Facebook Group.

Providers and services can contact the CCS Provider Helpdesk on 1300 667 276 or ccshelpdesk@education.gov.au

Stay up to date with the latest advice from your state or territory government:

Find more information about emergencies on DisasterAssist.