Early childhood educators say the safety of staff and children must be a priority after the government's announcement it will subsidise the service for all Australians during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prime minister Scott Morrison announced his free Early Childhood Education and Care package directed at "essential workers and vulnerable children" last week, which he said will allow parents to "work, study and volunteer".
"We have heightened exposure to respiratory droplets daily, no access to personal protective equipment, no ability to practise spatial distancing and we are not eligible for COVID-19 testing if we develop symptoms," one Bega Valley worker, who wished to remain anonymous, said following the announcement.
"There is a strong lack of morale among educators right now. We want to continue working, but many are fearful that the only choice they have to stay safe is to leave the industry.
"Surely there are better solutions available to us than risking infection spread in our educational centres at this critical time of reducing community transfer.
"While the rest of the nation practices social isolation, educators are left feeling more exposed and vulnerable than ever. We need more support."
The United Workers Union said if hygiene and safety is not increased the centres should be shut down, and if families do not take advantage of the now free service the centres will not be able to financially survive the pandemic.
"Right now centres need to prove a significant downturn in revenue before being able to apply for [the] Job Keeper [payment]. Many centres cannot afford to wait that long, and this money is not due to be available until May," the union's director of early childhood education, Helen Gibbons, said.
"As an essential service, early childhood centres should not have to prove a critical loss before being able to take steps to retain their workforce."
The union has put together a six point safety plan for the government, which includes pre-entry screening, adequate personal protective equipment, adequate cleaning, adequate staffing, hygiene and staggered start and finish times.
"Centres must get on the front foot and enact these measures, they must spend the money on increased cleaning and hygiene and allow the time for this to happen each day," Ms Gibbons said.
"It is the only way that this essential service can safely remain operating.
"As well as centres taking action now, we need these measures to be locked in by the federal government urgently.
"Educators cannot practice social distancing with very young children. For example, when a young child falls over and hurts themselves, educators offer care and comfort. Australia's educators need to be confident that everything possible has been done to prevent any infection getting into their environment.
"Early childhood education is the only place where young children can receive care while health workers save lives, cleaners and council workers keep our homes and cities clean, and retail staff work hard to make sure we have everything we need to get through this crisis," she said.
Mr Morrison made the subsidy announcement on April 3, following a meeting with the National Cabinet, consisting of state and territory leaders.
"Now, one of the things the National Cabinet is very keen to do now we've got through and I'm sure you would agree, there has been a massive amount of work that has had to be done to put in all the measures and arrangements we have done over the last several weeks," he said.
"Two hundred billion dollars worth of economic supports, investments in our health system, our childcare system, our mental health system, our emergency relief. All of these things, don't happen by themselves. There's been an enormous amount of work.
"The restrictions, the regulations, the state and territory governments have been putting in place as the National Cabinet has come together, has been to get us to this first stage of establishment to get the baseline of the protections and supports.
"Now, what we are looking to do is let Australians know what our next target is and what we're hoping to achieve in the weeks ahead so we can work together to achieve those goals."