Parents have been forced to fork out weeks worth of full childcare because of ‘teething issues’ with a new childcare subsidy scheme.
Childcare funding changes came into effect on July 2 under a Turnbull government plan to give parents breathing space in their tight household budgets.
But technical issues between third-party software systems and the government’s new funding system have forced parents to fork out full fees or individual centres to absorb the extra cost.
Sydney-based provider Sheda Hajaj told AAP she hadn’t been paid in a week and a half, but she wasn’t passing on costs where she didn’t have to, because she didn’t want families to lose care if they couldn’t cover the full amount.
‘People paying out of pocket $10 is okay, but $50 a day is too much. I support my families,’ she said on Friday.
Other parents have been forced to pay as much as $400 a week out of pocket.
Under the changes, subsidies are determined by an individual activity test, while childcare providers are required to record attendance details for each child, including their drop-off and pick-up times.
But two third-party systems developed to help providers share this data with the government are understood to have experienced issues connecting with the new childcare management system.
AAP has confirmed Quikkids, used by 7000 centres representing 100,000 families, was one of those involved.
It’s not known how many of their users or families overall have been affected.
Education Minister Simon Birmingham says ‘it’s inevitable that some teething issues will arise’ given the scale of the changes.
‘Some software providers experienced technical issues which resulted in some child care providers not initially receiving childcare payments,’ he told AAP on Friday.
He said he had been assured the problem had been resolved.
It’s understood the issue was resolved this week, three weeks after the new system began.
Early Childhood Australia chief executive Samantha Page said she felt some sympathy for the government over the transition issues given it had to be done all at once rather than gradually.
She believes the issues are multi-layered, partly because of third-party software providers but also suggested there had not been enough time for those companies to test their software.
‘I hope that the issues that are being experienced are just temporary,’ she said.
Parents who did not sign up before the July 2 start date are also understood to be experiencing some delays.
There is a three-month transition window for parents to switch to the new system.
Quikkids has been contacted for comment.