The Child Care Benefit (CCB) is a form of financial assistance provided to eligible families to help with the costs of childcare. The Child Care Benefit is calculated based on your family’s annual income and the number of children that you have in childcare.
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Are you eligible for the Child Care Benefit?
You may be eligible for Child Care Benefit if:
You or your partner are an Australian citizen, or a permanent resident living in Australia
Your child attends an approved childcare centre (a childcare centre that has been approved by the Australian Government for Child Care Benefit purposes) or registered childcare (an individual providing childcare service who has registered with the Department of Human Services)
You’re the person paying for your childcare costs
Your child is fully immunised, on a catch-up schedule or has a valid exemption, as per the new No Jab, No Play legislation.
Being eligible for the Child Care Benefit won’t necessarily mean you’re entitled to the Child Care Benefit payments, as this depends on the payment rate you’re eligible for. The rate of the Child Care Benefit you’re eligible for depends on:
- Your annual family income
- The number of children you have attending childcare
- The type of childcare service your child attends
- The number of hours your child is in care each week.
To receive your Child Care Benefit payment, you must first meet an income test. If you’re eligible for the Child Care Benefit but your family earns above the current income thresholds, you'll be entitled to zero rate of the Child Care Benefit, which means your Child Care Benefit payment reduces to $0.
Eligible families who earn less than $45,114 annually and/or receive income support may receive the maximum rate of the Child Care Benefit.
The following is the current income thresholds for Child Care Benefit payments in 2017-18:
How many hours of the Child Care Benefit are you entitled to?
Eligible families can receive the Child Care Benefit for up to 24 hours of care per child per week. Some of you may receive up to 50 hours per child per week if you and your partner meet the work, training, and study test, or have an exemption from the test.
The Work, Training, or Study Test for Child Care Benefit
In order to claim up to 50 hours of the Child Care Benefit per child per week, you’ll need to take the Work, Training or Study Test, and prove that you and your partner each have work-related commitments for a minimum of 15 hours per week or 30 hours per fortnight.
You are considered as taking on work-related commitment if you’re currently:
- Undertaking paid work (this includes self-employment and paid leave from work)
- Setting up your own business
- Searching for work
- Studying or training
- Undertaking voluntary work
- On paid or unpaid parental leave.
How to claim
You can apply for the Child Care Benefit either in person at a Centrelink service centre, or online through the Department of Human Services website.
After being assessed and approved, your Child Care Benefit payments will start when your childcare service sends through your child’s attendance details to Centrelink.
If you’re eligible for both the Child Care Benefit and the Child Care Rebate, the Child Care Benefit applies first on the full fees, and then the Child Care Rebate will apply to the remaining amount.
The Child Care Benefit is normally paid to the childcare centre, so families receive it in the form of a fee reduction, meaning you’ll only need to pay your out-of-pocket childcare fee after your benefit payment has been deducted. There’s also an option to have your Child Care Benefit paid as a lump sum payment. If you choose this payment method, you’ll need to pay full childcare fees during the year, and claim your Child Care Benefit at the end of the financial year.
What happens if your child is absent?
Parents who receive the Child Care Benefit payment are eligible for up to 42 absent days per child per financial year. For these 42 days, your child can be absent for any reason and you will still receive your Child Care Benefit payment without needing to provide any supporting evidence or documentation to explain the absence.
If one or more of your child’s childcare bookings happens to fall on a public holiday and your centre still charges you for the childcare fee, this will also be considered an absence and will be included in your child’s absence count for the year.
For any additional absences beyond the 42 days per year, you can still receive your Child Care Benefit payment if the reason for the additional absence is any of the following:
- Your child is sick
- You have rostered days off or rotating shifts
- You have shared care arrangements due to a court order, parenting plan or parenting order.
You will be required to provide supporting documents to verify the reason of absence, such as a doctor’s certificate if your child is sick.
To keep track of how many absent days you have left for the year, you can access your child’s absence record by logging into your Centrelink online account.
Please note that from 2 July 2018, there will be changes to the existing childcare assistance. The current Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate will be replaced by the Child Care Subsidy package. For more information regarding this please visit The Department of Education and Training website.
If you need more information on Child Care Rebate and Child Care Benefit, contact Childcare Near Me and one of our childcare experts will be happy to help you out!