Network Members Voice their Concerns with the NSW BASC Vouchers Scheme

Network members – Out of School Hours Care Services in NSW – are vocal in their concerns regarding the $500 vouchers for parents using Before and After School Care and Vacation Care. While Network welcomes support for families using OOSH, the viability of the Sector should be the NSW Department of Education’s number one priority. This voucher scheme is a short-term solution for families that comes at a cost to OOSH Services.

Brigitte Carrol, Director at Epping Before and After School Care Association, sent the following to the Premier Dominic Perrottet and to the BASC Reform team (NSW Department of Education).

Read Brigitte’s position below.

 

Via Email: 15/02/2022

To: NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and BASC Reform

I am the Centre Director of Epping Before and After School Care Association. I am writing to voice my concerns in regards to the $500 Voucher scheme due to commence 28th February 2022.

Some issues of immediate concern are as follows –

      • The administrative burden this scheme places on services is enormous. Across the industry we are already short staffed and overwhelmed with the current workload of running a service in the midst of a pandemic. It is unrealistic to expect services to manage the implementation of this scheme. In order to fulfill current requirements we will have to engage additional admin staff – this is an expense many services are not able to cover.
      • The task of scanning vouchers when parents attend the service will pull our attention away from supervision and care of the children in attendance. It is not fair or reasonable to task Educators with this job in addition to supervision and interactions with the children – we should be able to attend to the children and their safety and wellbeing without distraction.
      • This scheme is not compatible with any third party software – our service uses childcare management software QikKids, who have indicated that they are not able to update software to support this scheme. So, services will be left to manage this whole process manually. How can we manage a project of this scale where the only option is to input data manually? The opportunity for error and fraud abound. 
      • The option for services to participate is not really an option – the scheme has been so widely advertised families assume that once they have the voucher they can use it, so in the event that a service does not participate they face pressure and backlash from their parent community. You’ve placed us between a rock and a hard place.
      • Regarding the spreadsheet for compliance –
        • CCS amounts can change at any time throughout the year so figures entered now for the gap fee may change in the future, rendering the report inaccurate after submission.
        • We cannot share a child’s CRN number with an outside party – this presents breach of privacy concerns. 
        • CCS amounts will also vary for cessation of care circumstances, and also allowable absences once exhausted. Despite best efforts, services will not be able to maintain an accurate record since CCSS is constantly updating.
        • A more user friendly, realistic mode of reporting needs to be established. An added feature through the PRODA that links to service software program.

Making OOSH ‘affordable’ for families with this voucher will not translate into access to care. $500 vouchers for families will not reduce our waitlists, will not create additional licence numbers nor will they attract more staff to an industry that is floundering. What this voucher is doing, under the guise of access, is further overwhelming directors, nominated supervisors, service providers and admin staff with a scheme that does nothing to relieve the pressure and stress of the immediate challenges we face. 

I suggest that this scheme be re-worked so parents liaise directly with Service NSW to secure a $500 refund for gap fees charged by services. Don’t create more work for OOSH services – it is not our job to implement these schemes for the Department and Service NSW. The strain this will create cannot be overstated.

We are here to provide care and education for the children. Let us do our job. Our backs are already breaking – don’t expect us to shoulder this additional workload.

I am happy to take your call to answer any questions you have of me, and I look forward to your response.

Yours faithfully
Brigitte Carroll

Brigitte Carroll
EBASCA Director/ Nominated Supervisor
Epping Before & After School Care

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