JobKeeper payments proved to be a lifeline for at least one Gunnedah child care centre in the last few months.
When the federal government introduced free child care on April 6, Mary Ranken's director Cherie Ison had concerns about how the centre could keep its doors open when it was no longer going to receive the government subsidy for enrolled children.
"If we didn't get JobKeeper, we probably would have had to close Mary Ranken," Ms Ison said.
The centre has only been receiving half of the $11.98 per hour, per child that the government had been paying as a subsidy and were not allowed to charge out-of-pocket or gap fees.
As a result, Mary Ranken's opening times were cut back by 1.5 hours, staff on the floor were reduced from 12 to three, and the number of children attending dropped from almost 40 to less than 10.
"Some staff volunteered to take time off to homeschool their children and other staff took leave without pay," Ms Ison said.
It was an anxious time for staff as they awaited the outcome of the centre's JobKeeper application in May.
"We weren't sure if we were going to get it, but in the end we were eligible," Ms Ison said.
"Everyone's hours have been cut to meet the JobKeeper [payments]."
If we didn't get JobKeeper, we probably would have had to close Mary Ranken.Cherie Ison, Mary Ranken director
It is somewhat of a financial relief for the centre that the free child care policy ends at the weekend.
"We've had an influx of 13 new families over the period that we didn't get paid for ... we didn't get any child care subsidy for those families because the average was taken in February," Ms Ison said.
"We've probably received a third of our income for that four-month period, and with the grace of JobKeeper coming in, that's kept us afloat."
In late May, more children started to flow in, but the biggest jump has been more recent.
"In the last three weeks, they've come back. [Parents] thought it was safe to return and there were no cases in Gunnedah," Ms Ison said.
"We're back to normal [staffing and numbers] now. We've probably got three families that haven't come back yet.
"We'd like to thank our families for supporting us and staying with us during the difficult time."
Mary Ranken will return to its regular hours from July 20.