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.