Parents and childcare providers have voiced their despair at the confusion over new rules to keep the system running in the face of the coronavirus crisis.
Some centres are closing but the new rules mean parents can't then take their children to other centres which remain open.
Some working parents fear that one of the two will have to give up his or her job because they need childcare for both to continue working.
And childcare workers on visas tied to a particular job fear they will be sent back to their countries of origin if the centres where they're employed close.
The problems arise because of the way different bits of the rescue package interact with each other.
There are two elements: permanent workers in childcare can get $1,500 a fortnight under the federal government's new JobKeeper allowance.
And, secondly, the government will subsidise childcare centres which stay open - but not always by enough to maintain their financial viability.
The subsidy amounts to half a centre's usual revenue (as measured by the two weeks from February 17 to 28) - but the condition is that childcare must then be free to parents. No charges can be levied.
But some centres are having to close anyway because so many children have left that the centres aren't viable even with the extra help.
Parents of the children from these closed centres are finding it difficult to enroll their children elsewhere.
There's no incentive, they say, for other centres to expand their service to take new children. Expansion means an increase in cost without an increase in revenue.
One parent, Craig Dadds from Curtin, said that he and his wife would have to look after their two-year-old daughter at home if the centre she attended closed. He talked of "childcare orphans" - children without access to a childcare centre.
His wife is a nurse at Canberra Hospital and so a front-line worker in the COVID-19 crisis.
The switch to free childcare meant that well-off parents were now being subsidised unlike under the previous system where government payments depended on incomes.
He isn't criticising anyone - just highlighting the way the system isn't working the way it was meant to.
It may be that the new rules and subsidies were designed in an impossibly difficult situation and there are now unintended consequences.
The Teddy Bears Childcare Centres in Curtin and Macarthur illustrate the difficulties.
Their owner, Mark Gillett, has been wrestling with whether to close the smaller centre, the one at Curtin.
Instead of using it, many parents have opted to keep their children home for fear of the virus - and that's made the centre uneconomical even with the federal government's aid packages.
I'm in the unfortunate situation where I've got these four people who I can't bring myself to lose.Mark Gillett, Teddy Bears Childcare Centre
As problems have emerged, the federal government has tweaked the system so that childcare centres can charge parents but then not get the subsidy - but Mr Gillett says that if he takes that option, he will be competing against centres offering free childcare.
He also has four employees who are on visas tied to the job. He said they were highly-skilled and he sponsored them for the visa.
If he makes them redundant, they will have to go back to their original lands even though some are a few months short of becoming Australian citizens.
He said he is making every effort to keep them on the books even though the blunt economics don't add up.
"I'm in the unfortunate situation where I've got these four people who I can't bring myself to lose," he said.
"I'm still going to pay them somehow."
Our COVID-19 news articles relating to public health and safety are free for anyone to access. However, we depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support. If you're looking to stay up to date on COVID-19, you can also sign up for our twice-daily digest here.