A fully-funded scheme is in place for the care of essential worker children. Making sure essential workers have access to childcare, takes immediate pressure off any demand to re-open ECE services for working parents.
Supermarket workers, courier drivers, nurses, and other essential workers can have a carer come to their home or take their child to the carer’s family home.
There is no limit on the number of hours an essential worker can have the fully paid childcare for, including overnight care.
Careers are paid $25.00 per hour, and need to hold a current first-aid certificate.
Physical distancing is not required since childcare is only offered to the children of one essential worker’s household bubble (may include a second household in the case of shared custody arrangements) and the career’s household bubble.
Carers are not providing an early childhood education service as they are working outside of the formal regulations for ECE. The Ministry of Education is unable to monitor for the usual regulated standards.
Only carers who were working as home-educators prior to the lockdown and not ECE centre or school teachers or members of the public, are eligible to be child carers under this scheme. This provides some (albeit limited) assurance of the safety of the physical environment of the career’s own home as this should have been previously safety checked by a licensed home-based provider.
Seventeen nationwide as well some regional licensed home-based ECE service providers are funded by the government to pay careers for each hour that they work. The service providers receive a commission or administration payment of $60.00 out of the scheme, for each career they place with an essential worker family.
NOTES ON WAGES AND FUNDING
How does this compare with teacher minimum pay rates?
Since the government has agreed a child carer/babysitter is worth $25.00 an hour, this provides a new baseline for reassessment of the wage rates set by the Ministry of Education for salary attestation in the employment of teachers in teacher-led centres who are qualified and hold a practising certificate (teacher salary/wage attestation rates are currently set only at $21 - $22 per hour depending on whether a teacher holds a 3 or 4 year teaching degree. Requests for pay parity with teaching colleagues in schools and higher funded kindergartens are well justified)
How does this affect ECE service funding and claiming the government wage subsidy?
The special additional funding provided by the government does not affect home-based ECE continuance of funding or eligibility under the COVID-19 wage subsidy scheme. However, for self-employed educators who would otherwise have not been working during the lockdown, it provides income which is taxable and therefore may affect whether or how much of the wage subsidy they can apply for (or need to pay back).