COVID-19 Update – 12.5.2020
To our dear families,
We hope this update finds you well and coping with the challenges that continue to present during these unprecedented times.
We also hope you are finding some positives and joy as we move into the next phase of managing COVID-19. We appreciate there is some return to life before COVID-19, however it is also essential that we continue to be vigilant in our procedures and practices to reduce the opportunity for any spread at our services.
We continue to receive regular updates and information from NSW Health, and communication from our governing body regarding the best way to prevent any infection at our Centres. We reflect on our service procedures after receiving any information, and continue to ensure we have the best practices in place for the safety of our children, families and educators.
We have updated our Risk Assessment Plan (this replaces any centre communication prior to 12/5) as advised by the department. If you would like to view this updated plan, please contact your centre Director.
Our Risk Assessment outlines our plan to support the need to socially distance. It is impossible for us to support this suggestion at all times in an Early Childhood setting with the needs of our children being our priority, but we are mindful of the importance, and we do ask our families to help by minimising the time spent in classrooms where possible. If you would like to discuss your child’s progress or have any concerns, please do not hesitate to email your centre Director and arrange a time for us to call you and discuss over the phone.
To finish, please accept our sincere thanks for the continued support and kindness we have been shown during this time. Our super Fit Kidz team, and Mick & I personally, have been overwhelmed with lovely messages, food deliveries and shout outs on social media. It most certainly has been a united front as we all navigate our way through this, and that has made it so much easier. It is hard to find the words to share our appreciation.
Mick & Mel Scaife
COVID-19 Update – 3.4.2020
WHEN THEY ZIG, WE ZAG!!!!!!!!
To our dear parents, here we are again, with a few more answers……
As you would know we have had a diabolical few weeks at Fit Kidz and have been staring into the abyss. Our enrolments had fallen off a cliff, families were continuing to withdraw to reduce their own costs, the Premier told people not to come so they didn’t want to pay notice periods (quite understandably), it was illegal to waive the gap fees, some people were in uproar, our staff were scared for the future, and looking to us for answers we just didn’t have.
There have been many times over the last three weeks that Mel and I have had to consider whether Fit Kidz could survive the next few months.
With the uncertainty, we had no choice but to wind back our wage costs, our casuals being the first casualties, and then also scale back even our full-time workforce.
Without a doubt we have had the hardest time of our working lives, and there have been many, many tears. To say that our Team have been amazing through this is just the biggest understatement of all time, and many of those tears have been in gratitude for some of the things they have said, or offered, given or been prepared to sacrifice for us and for their mates.
Throughout we’ve been mindful of our families and friends who were losing their jobs or in similar situations in their own businesses in hospitality, retail, beauty, fitness etc. It’s an unfathomably difficult time on so many levels, but especially if you are considering business impacts and people’s livelihoods as well as the health stuff.
Suffice to say, things were looking very grim indeed.
THE BIG CHILD CARE ANNOUNCEMENT
- CCS and ACCS is cancelled for the next 12 weeks and replaced by a new total payment to Centres.
- The new payment would be based on 50% of Centre receipts in the last fortnight of February.
- To accept the new payment Centres had to agree not to charge fees to any parent.
- There would also be wage subsidies to help with the cost of wages, which had already been announced.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR FIT KIDZ FAMILIES AND STAFF?
- We use all the subsidy and a bit of extra cash too so that our team can get 80% of their regular pay with only one day off a week. Staff can SLEEP at night!
- We will DO SUCH A GREAT JOB with more staff on the floor but numbers still quite low because of the virus, so that we have heaps of time to SIT ON THE FLOOR WITH YOUR BEAUTIFUL KIDS and have EVEN BETTER MORALE to be SO AWESOME
- We will welcome other new families who want to come to our centres and we’ll take them entirely for free
- We will support your kids and your families, and serve our communities through a time of crisis
Can we get free Child Care even if we were not eligible for CCS before?
*Yes!!!!! from Monday 6/4
Do you want us to attend?
*We would love you to bring your kids in, but also understand caution around current circumstances. You don’t need to attend in order to keep your spots reserved for later when this is all over, you just need to have a current enrolment.
We still must remember there is a virus on, and we expect our numbers in the Centres to be low, so with plenty of staff on we should have lots of extra time to do cool stuff and be extra-AWESOME. We’ll also be doing lots of YouTube and online/outreach stuff for our kids to stay in touch if they can’t come to the Centre for a while.
Does it help the Centre if I increase my days?
*No, our entire income is locked in the past (February 2020) so please only enrol for the days you believe you will need once this is all over, as we don’t receive any additional payments.
We’ve never been a Fit Kidz family before, can we book in and get some free Child Care?
*Sure! We’ll be here being awesome anyway, so why not? We have some spots in some Centres that we’re more than happy to offer.
Only that we need to prioritise the bookings of our existing families of course, and the children of “essential workers” in the shorter term, and we also ask that you hang around for our rebuild after all this is over!! (You would have to go through the formal “enrolment” process with a view to staying on in the future).
You’ve said you’re waiving the gap fee now if child was absent from 23/03 to 5/4, I checked my bank account, and the payment was deducted with the same amount as usual.
*For the period 23/3 until today 3/4 – regardless of actual attendance, we are waiving the gap fee for families eligible for CCS. For families not eligible for CCS – we will discount your fees by 50% as a token of our thanks. These amounts will be credited to your account for use later or may be refunded upon request (please allow us to hold in credit if you can!)
How do the absences work..?
*For the moment, CCS has been suspended anyway from today, but families are entitled to 62 normal absences up to 30/6/20 and as many additional absences as they require – a Doctor’s certificate is no longer required for COVID-19 absences of any kind.
Do families need to do anything (regarding claiming etc)?
*We don’t think so at this stage.
COVID-19 Update – 25.3.2020
We are closely monitoring the Government’s advice and regulations with relation to COVID-19. Staff, children and families are taking extra precautions with cleaning, sanitising and distancing. Please follow guidance from Centres for any specific safety measures.
At this point in time, and whilst it is still safe to do so, as the Prime Minister and Premier of NSW have indicated – schools and Early Childhood services will remain open. We will assess our situation daily, and continue to communicate with families throughout the process.To provide clarity for our Fit Kidz community, we will continue to operate until (and if) medical advice convinces the Government to mandate closures. Of course, if we become aware of a child, Educator or parent who tests positive to COVID – 19, we will immediately notify families and action our planned safeguards.
We know there are many families who hope to continue in care, and we thank you very much for your confidence and support. However, we also know that some families are unsure or are concerned, and have been faced with terrible hardship, with loss of work or changes in finances. If you are in a position that you feel you need to withdraw your children, please talk to your Centre Director about the options available – let’s try to work through this together.
Even in this uncertain time we are trying to support families and our staff, and make decisions that will give us the best chance to emerge from all this and continue to provide care for families, and jobs for our team.
We implore you to try to work with us through this uncertainty – we are all in this together.
Mel and Mick Scaife
To help with some of the important questions (Current as at 25.3.2020)
As you can understand we will continue to operate our business through this crisis. The government considers child care an essential service.
This means we will continue to have obligations that we must meet, the wages of our team being our priority and biggest expense. Accordingly, we will still need to charge fees in accordance with government laws and regulations – noting that it is currently illegal for us to draw on CCS funding without taking a full “gap fee” or co-payment from families. There has been discussion, and we are very hopeful that this could change soon, so that we could take pressure off families.
We understand the impact this can have on families, so provide the following information:
- If your child is fit and well and attending care, there is no change to fee payments at this time.
- If your child is absent for any reason, you can maintain your enrolment and use your ‘Allowable Absences’ which have been increased from 42 to 62 per financial year. Once their allowable absences are exhausted, families can use additional absences for Covid-19 related reasons, (including illness, self-isolation) which will be available without obtaining a Doctor’s Certificate. Your CCS will still be available for up to 14 weeks of continuous absence. Your place will be held at the centre and fees will be payable.
- If the centre is closed (for example, as part of a Government mandated shutdown), then you will not be charged for any days that care is unavailable.
- If you cease your child’s enrolment, the four-week notice period included in our terms and conditions will have to apply at the moment. If you are experiencing hardship and the meeting of those gap fees is causing further stress then we may be able to help by accruing them for payment at a later time. Please understand that part of the reason we are attempting to push cancellations into the future is that we are anticipating (and hoping for) changes to the CCS funding system as above.
Firstly, please reach out to us. We want to help in any way we can.
Secondly, and as soon as possible, you should contact Centrelink or use your MyGov account to update your income and activity tests, to determine your new CCS entitlement. This could potentially reduce your out of pocket fee – making it more affordable. Please note that until a confirmation is received, your out of pocket fees will remain the same. You may also be eligible for Additional Child Care Subsidy (ACCS).
We will continue to follow the advice of the Department of Health and Department of Education and will continue to operate as long as it considered safe to do so, and in the absence of a government shutdown.
Please email your Centre Director. You should also regularly refer to the Federal Government Department of Health website www.health.gov.au
As we have previously advised, excursions and incursions are postponed until further notice.
Please see above – regrettably – yes. While we continue to operate in accordance with Government recommendations, we need to be able to plan ahead to ensure that your children receive the best possible education and care that you have come to know and trust in Fit Kidz.
There are a number of translated Covid-19 resources available to families on various websites. Please find just a few listed below:
Our children are struggling and aware of the challenges we are all facing and if we are feeling uncertain and confused, so are they. I know our families want to find a balance between keeping a child safe and avoiding alarm. Like adults, children are navigating something they have never experienced before.
Finding the right way to talk to them about COVID-19 can help protect children and reduce their fear. Children have a right to know what is going on, but as adults we have a responsibility to protect them from distress. Obviously for our babies, a calm and happy environment is the key, and turning off the news is important. Keep yourself informed is important, but the constant COVID-19 discussions and reports on television is not helpful to our mindset, and children are listening even when you think they are not. There are ways to talk to older children that will help limit their fears and address their concerns.
- Use age appropriate language.
- Show you are listening, and their concerns are important to you.
- Explain you haven’t been through anything like this either, but you know the world will keep spinning and the sun will come up each day.
- Remind them you are there to look after them.
- Tell them if we listen carefully to advice and put one foot in front of another, it will be okay.
- Let your children know that we are in the best possible position to fight this disease.
- Explain that China has done a good job of researching and understanding the virus and is now coming out the other side, and so will we.
- Remind them that there have been pandemics across history, the experts know what to do, and the disease will run its course (as all epidemics do).