KEEPING HOPE: The team at Warwick Whispering Gully Childcare Centre say they’re struggling even with subsidies, but won’t give up.
KEEPING HOPE: The team at Warwick Whispering Gully Childcare Centre say they’re struggling even with subsidies, but won’t give up.

Childcare centres still in crisis

CHILDCARE centres across Warwick have said not enough is being done to support the sector’s workers, despite the Federal Government pledging over $1.6 billion to centres across the country.

Last Thursday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced all childcare fees would be waived, but childcare centres would be given payments matching about 50 per cent of their usual revenue, based on attendance figures before they plummeted in early March.

With many families keeping their children at home in isolation, local childcare centres have seen huge declines in enrolments since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, and many are now only open to look after the children of essential workers.

Warwick Whispering Gully Childcare Centre director Melissa Brunt said while the new government subsidies would certainly be positive for essential workers who still rely on childcare, they were insufficient for those keeping the centres running.

“Families are staying away because of the coronavirus, not because they couldn’t afford it,” Ms Brunt said.

“It obviously does help those families who can stay at home and save that money, but I don’t think that was the driving point of why they weren’t coming.”

Any children left are those of essential workers. The owners still have to forgo half of their income to make sure everyone else can get childcare for free.”

However, for Ms Brunt and many other childcare workers across the sector, the biggest problem facing them is the inability to observe social distancing and self-isolation practices as directed.

“Everyone needs to stay at home, but we need to come to work. We’re expected to socially distance, but with little kids you just can’t do that,” Ms Brunt said.

“We’re surrounded by sixty kids a day, and it’s not like you can change a baby’s nappy from a distance, you have to be right there.

But you can’t have it any other way, because kids pick up on that anxiety. You have to treat them the same as you would any other day.”



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