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The flexible new option that can help you make the Child Care Subsidy work for you.

Goodstart Early Learning
Thanks to our brand partner, Goodstart Early Learning

As the financial year comes to a close, the hot topic on Facebook parenting groups is the new Child Care Subsidy (CCS) being introduced on July 2. My husband and I are always anxious about any changes to our child care assistance because with two kids in care, the fees sure do eat into the family budget.

In response to the changes, Goodstart Early Learning, the largest early learning provider in Australia and not-for-profit social enterprise, has introduced a flexible new option to reduce parents’ out-of-pocket costs and help us get the most out of the government’s new subsidy.

Goodstart Early Learning allows you to choose from nine-hour, 10-hour or all-day session for your kids. That means you don’t have to pay for hours of care you’re not using, you can select a shorter day and stretch your subsidy.

child care
With two kids in child care, it helps to have flexible options. Image: Supplied.
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If you’re still confused about how the new Child Care Subsidy works, you’re not alone. The new subsidy is means tested, which means your entitlements will be based on your combined family income, your fortnightly activities (including work, study and volunteering) as well as the your centre's daily fee.

After completing your online assessment through myGov , you'll receive a letter through your myGov account notifying you of your subsidy percentage, the amount of subsidised hours you are eligible for per fortnight and your annual cap. These details will differ from family to family – some will be entitled to the maximum 100 hours of care per fortnight while others may only be covered for 24 hours per fortnight at varying percentages.

For example, my husband and I both work full-time hours so we’re entitled to 100 hours per fortnight at 42.29 percent with an annual cap of $10,190 per child, whereas a friend of mine is studying an online course part-time and is entitled to 24 hours per fortnight at 85 percent with no annual cap.

At most child care centres, you pay for a full day of care no matter what time you drop your kids off or pick them up. If your centre is open from 7am until 7pm and your kids are in care full-time, you’ll be paying for 120 hours of care per fortnight – above the maximum 100 subsidised hours. At Goodstart you can select nine or 10-hour sessions, meaning you’ll stay within your hourly allocation (just keep an eye on your cap).

In my friend’s case, her family is subsidised for 24 hours per fortnight. That means that if they have to pay for full 12-hour days, they’ll only be covered for one day of subsidised care per week. But if they select Goodstart’s nine-hour day (18 hours per fortnight), they’ll have an extra six hours of CCS up their sleeve to contribute to another day.

Goodstart’s flexible options are super handy for a lot of families who are at risk of running out of eligible hours and paying full fees. The other good news is that Goodstart has 649 centres nationally, so you hopefully won’t have to travel far to enrol your child in one of them.

child care
Goodstart has 649 early learning centres with flexible options. Image: Goodstart Early Learning
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Another way to optimise your Child Care Subsidy is to ensure you've put in all of your "recognised activity" in your claim.  In addition to paid work, you can include any approved study courses you’re undertaking, time spent working for a family business in an unpaid role, time spent looking for employment or setting up a new business as well as any volunteer work you’re involved in.

You can also include the time it takes for you to travel from childcare to work and vice versa, as well as any work you do on weekends. The hours of subsidised care you receive will be determined by the parent with the lowest hours of activity. The more activity you’re involved in, the more hours of subsidised care you’ll be able to claim. If your activity hours are low, it’s a good incentive to start that training course you’ve been thinking about or to get more involved with the local community.

Every family is different and has different needs as well as different entitlements.

If you’re after a centre that’ll help your subsidy stretch further, be sure to check our Goodstart’s new flexible options. Visit www.goodstart.org.au/sessions or call 1800 222 543.

This content was created with thanks to our brand partner Goodstart Early Learning.

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