Early learning and care (ELC) and school aged childcare (SAC) services are provided by private enterprises, either privately owned or operated by community organisations. While service providers are contracted by my Department to provide services at a subsidised rate to parents they are free to set their own policies regarding the charging of fees.
If a parent of an eligible child chooses not to take an available place, the service providers’ fee policy will apply. My Department have informed parents that if there is currently no restriction on their access to a service for which they have an agreed contract, the service provider may require that the fees be paid.
I am aware, and welcome that, many ELC/SAC providers have refunded or credited fees for parents who cannot access services at this time. I have asked that services take this step, if possible, in light of the significant State supports provided to the sector.