COVID-19 and early childhood

The Australian Government provided support to the early childhood education and care sector throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Targeted COVID-19 support has ended.

On this page:

Relief Package

6 April 2020 to 12 July 2020

The Australian Government responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020 with the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package.

The relief package included a range of support payments in place of the Child Care Subsidy (CCS). Families were not charged fees during the relief package period. A review found the relief package helped keep services open and viable.

Transition Package

13 July 2020 to 27 September 2020

The Australian Government supported the return to CCS in July 2020 with the Early Childhood Education and Care Transition Package.

The transition package included a range of transition payments based on a service’s revenue, care type and location.

Recovery Package

28 September 2020 to 31 January 2021

The Australian Government introduced the Victorian Recovery Package in September 2020 in response to increased restrictions in Victoria.

The recovery package included a payment for services in Victoria to remain viable, retain staff and provide care to families during extended lockdowns.

Viability Support Package

23 August 2021 to 30 November 2021

The Australian Government introduced the Viability Support Package in August 2021 in response to extended lockdowns across the country.

Under the package, eligible services in Commonwealth-declared COVID-19 hotspots received a business continuity payment. Payments were based on a service’s pre-lockdown revenue. Eligible services could also waive gap fees and access additional absences.

See regions and timeframes eligible for support under the viability support package.

Further support

Following the conclusion of extended lockdowns and the above support packages, some support measures remained in place to help the sector deal with the continued impact of COVID-19.

The following measures were available from 1 December until 30 June 2023:

  • services could waive the gap fee when a child was unable to attend care for one of the following reasons:
    • the child, or a member of their immediate household, had COVID-19
    • the child was at a higher risk of severe disease from COVID-19
    • the service, or a room at the service, was closed due to COVID-19
  • all families got 10 extra allowable absences per child in the 2021–22 and 2022–23 financial years.

The following absence provisions continue to be available:

  • families can use evidence of a positive COVID-19 test result from a government agency or pathology service, instead of a medical certificate, to access additional absences
  • families can get CCS for absences that occurred in the 7 days before a child’s first, or after their last, attendance when a child has COVID-19 and provides the evidence stated above.