'I've been anxiously waiting': NSW mum's 'relief' at free childcare announcement

Photo: Single parent Tara Ali has two young kids. Supplied
Photo: Single parent Tara Ali has two young kids. Supplied  

Tara Ali is one of the one million Australian parents set to benefit from the Government's announcement of free childcare during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The 46-year-old freelancer writer and mum-of-two, based in Springfield on the Central Coast of NSW, told Essential Baby she is "absolutely relieved" by the news. 

"For the past two weeks, I have been trying to work with my two young kids at home, and its been extremely difficult and stressful," she said. 

"I've been anxiously waiting to see exactly what the government was going to do about childcare, and also whether I was going to lose my job, before I made a final decision - but this news means I'll be able to keep my kids enrolled and send them back to daycare tomorrow." 

Prior to the pandemic, Ali's two-year-old and four-year-old had been attending a local daycare centre three days a week while Ali worked from home as a sole income worker. 

The plan, unveiled today by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, will deliver hip pocket relief for families and help the early childhood education and care sector make it through to the other side of the crisis.  

Under the new system, the government will pay 50 per cent of the childcare centre's revenue based on a period of time before which parents began removing their children from facilities as a result of COVID-19.

"I watched the announcement with one child on my lap and the other watching his 900th hour of TV for the week," she says. "I have been wracked with guilt about what to do and I do feel a sense of relief now."

"My kids attend a lovely little daycare and I've also been so worried about the staff losing their jobs and the centre going under." 

Photo: Single parent Tara Ali has two young kids. Supplied

Photo: Single parent Tara Ali and hre two young kids. Supplied

Ali is acutely aware of the grim reality of coronavirus. Her two sisters live in London, one is a nurse and the other a teacher, who unfortunately became ill with the virus and had to self-isolate. 

"I'm only too aware of how bad this virus is, and that's why I've been so worried and torn and had a panic attack in the garden today." 

"On the one hand, I don't want to send my kids anywhere because of the health risks but on the other, I feel more of a sense of duty than ever in such an unstable economic climate."

"If I don't work, I can't pay the bills and it's impossible for me to work with my kids at home." 

Ali admits that the situation is hugely challenging "for everyone" and as Morrison pointed out, Australia is fighting both a health and a financial crisis.  

"It's all been really hard and a huge juggle," she admits.

"We are all feeling this and everyone is affected. At least now I know I'll be able to return to work properly with a little less guilt and our daycare can stay open."

The new childcare system is due to come into place on April 6, with almost one million families set to benefit.

"These services are vital for so many parents so they can provide for their family, and children need as much familiarity and continuity as we can help provide at this unsettling time,"  Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

"Priority will be given to working parents, vulnerable and disadvantaged children that need early education more than ever and parents with pre-existing enrolments."

Find out all the details of the new childcare system here