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What you need to do to be eligible for the Child Care Subsidy so you don't miss out.

On 2 July 2018, the Government will be rolling out the New Child Care Package, designed with all families and children in mind for the early learning and workforce participation opportunities the system should provide.

It’s an understanding that many parents, in a variety of different circumstances, need more support for their workforce participation. And equally, ensuring that all children have the opportunity for the early education benefits on offer.

It’s important for families, including those in family scenarios outside the nuclear norm, to understand how the Package will work for them. Here, Simon Birmingham, Minister for Education & Training, explores the many family and care-giving scenarios the new Package supports:

Australians need a child care and early learning system that recognises and benefits all parents in the 21st century. Australians want a system that supports parents working or re-entering the workforce, not one that acts as an impediment to returning to work. Australians also want to see grandparents, who care for their grandchildren in circumstances where parents cannot, adequately supported.

As I’ve written here before, under the New Child Care Package, the current Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate will be replaced by a single, simplified Child Care Subsidy.

And, most importantly, the annual cap on child care payments will be removed for families earning $186,958 or less. Under this new system, these parents will no longer have to stress about hitting a limit on their support. For families earning above this but below $351,248, the cap will be increased to $10,190 per child, per year.

The package also includes an Additional Child Care Subsidy to provide targeted additional fee assistance to families and children facing barriers in accessing affordable child care.

The new Package works in three ways.

First, the level of subsidy a family is eligible for will be determined by their combined annual income, with more financial support available for lower income families. The new subsidy will be paid directly to providers, reducing the fees that parents pay.

Second, the number of hours parents work, study or volunteer (among other recognised activities) will determine how many hours of subsidised child care they are eligible for.

The more hours of activity parents undertake, the more hours of subsidised care they’ll receive, up to 100 hours per child per fortnight. It makes sense that families that are working, training to work or contributing to the community should get the most support.

Finally, the type of child care service a family uses will determine the hourly rate cap that applies to them. Hourly rate caps vary depending on whether a family uses centre based day care, family day care,  outside school hours care services or In home care.

To make things even simpler, we’re running a subsidy estimator you can check out at ww.education.gov.au/childcare that’ll tell you exactly what you’ll receive from 2 July.

Understanding how you fit into the new Package.

Since the New Child Care Package was announced last year, I’ve received many questions from parents and caregivers with unique family circumstances who want to better understand how their family will fit into the new Package. To help ensure all families understand how they’ll be affected, here’s some of the family scenarios and how the New Child Care Package applies to them.

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1. Two parent families.

In two parent families, the parent or guardian with the lowest hours of activity per fortnight will determine the hours of subsidised care.

 2. Sole parents.

For sole parents, your Child Care Subsidy will be determined based on your estimated annual income and activity level.

 3. Shared parental care.

Parents who are separated, and who share the care responsibilities for their child/children, will be able to make separate claims for the Child Care Subsidy. This means that each parent may be eligible for up to 100 hours of subsidised child care per child, per fortnight. Parents in this scenario are only expected to access the number of hours of subsidised child care they require.

 4. Parents who have a disability.

Parents with a disability who, because of their disability are unable to meet the Child Care Subsidy activity test, or care for their child or their partner’s child, will be exempt and entitled to 100 hours of subsidised care per child per fortnight. This exemption includes parents in receipt of the Disability Support Pension, as well as recipients of an invalidity service pension. The percentage of subsidy these families will be entitled to will be based on their combined annual income.

 5. Parents in receipt of the Carer Allowance.

Parents in receipt of the Carer Allowance will automatically be entitled to 72 hours of subsidised child care, per child per fortnight, without having to meet the requirements of the activity test. However, if parents are caring for an adult or child for more than 48 hours per fortnight, or their caring responsibilities are combined with hours of other recognised activities for more than 48 hours per fortnight, they will be entitled to 100 hours of subsidised child care, per child per fortnight.

 6. Parents in receipt of the Carer Payment.

Parents in receipt of the Carer Payment will be exempt from meeting the requirements of the Child Care Subsidy activity test. They will be entitled to 100 hours of subsidised child care, per child per fortnight. The percentage of subsidy these families will be entitled to will be based on their estimated combined family income.

 7. Older children accessing child care.

While eligibility for the Child Care Subsidy is limited to children aged 13 and under who are not attending secondary school, there will be exemptions for those who have a legitimate need to access subsidised care if their child can’t be left unsupervised (for example, older children with disability, or children aged 13 and under in a secondary school who do not have access to suitable care provided by an adult). Eligibility for this will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

 8. Foster carers.

As part of the Additional Child Care Subsidy (Child Wellbeing), families, including foster carers may be entitled to receive subsidised hours of care without having to meet the requirements of the Child Care Subsidy activity test. Families who are eligible for the Additional Child Care Subsidy (Child Wellbeing) will be entitled to 100 hours of subsidised child care per child, per fortnight.

What do I need to do to make sure I receive my subsidy?

Transitioning to the new subsidy is not an automatic roll over from the current child care payments. Families should complete their Child Care Subsidy assessment now. If their circumstances change after they’ve completed their assessment, details can easily be updated online. For more information on this process, please visit: education.gov.au/childcare.

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