What is the Child Care Subsidy?
The Child Care Subsidy (CCS) is the largest form of child care assistance in Australia and is provided by the Federal Government. Primarily, this subsidy reduces the childcare costs for families with children attending long day care. It also reduces the costs of out of school hours care, family daycare and in home care. The CCS became available to families on 2 July 2018.
Why does the Government provide subsidies for childcare?
The purpose of providing child care assistance and reducing costs is to:
- improve the development of children by increasing the level of early education they receive, and
- increase the level of work and study conducted by parents and guardians by decreasing their childcare costs.
The CCS also simplifies child care fee assistance by replacing several previous programs including the Child Care Benefit, Child Care Rebate and Jobs, Education and Training Child Care Fee Assistance Programme.
Who is eligible?
Prior to calculating the amount of subsidy your family can claim, you must first assess your family’s eligibility. To be eligible for the CCS, you or your partner must meet all of the following four (4) eligibility criteria:
- care for your child 2 or more nights per fortnight (or have at least 14% care),
- be responsible for paying the childcare fees,
- live in Australia for at least 46 weeks of the financial year, and
- meet the residency requirements, those being:
- have Australian citizenship, or
- hold a permanent visa, or
- hold a Special Category visa, or
- hold a certain temporary visa type.
If the fourth criteria is not met, you may seek an exemption if you or your partner are a student sponsored by the Australian Government, are experiencing hardship or have special circumstances.
In addition to you or your partner meeting the eligibility criteria, your child must also meet two (2) eligibility criteria in order for your family to be eligible for child care support. Your child must be:
- 13 years of age or under, and not attending secondary school, and
- up to date with immunisations listed in the National Immunisation Program Schedule published by the Department of Health.
Exemptions to these criteria may apply if your child is:
- on an immunisation catch-up schedule according to the current Australian Immunisation Handbook,
- has an approved medical exemption from immunisation which has been recorded on the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR),
- 13 or under and attending secondary school,
- 13 or under with a disability, attending secondary school, or
- 14 to 18 with a disability, attending secondary school.
To qualify for an exemption, you must also offer evidence as to why your child cannot be left without supervision, and confirm that there are no adults available to care for your child.
How is the Child Care Subsidy calculated?
If your family is eligible to receive childcare support, the amount of funding that your family can receive depends on three (3) factors:
- the type of childcare your child attends,
- the amount of income your family earns, and
- the amount of ‘Activity Hours’ your family conducts.
The type of childcare your child attends
The type of childcare your child is attending determines the ‘Maximum Hourly Rate’ that your family can claim for the CCS. If the hourly rate used by your childcare provider to calculate your childcare fees is less than the ‘Maximum Hourly Rate’ for that type of childcare, then the hourly rate charged by your childcare provider will be used when calculating your subsidy. Therefore, when using our Child Care Subsidy calculator you will be asked to provide information that we can use to determine the hourly rate charged by your childcare provider.
The amount of income your family earns
The CCS is means-tested, meaning that the amount of subsidy each family receives depends upon their income (i.e. their ‘means’). The Child Care Subsidy estimator therefore requires you to provide an estimate of your family’s ‘Combined Household Income’. You need to include all sources of income including wages and salary, superannuation, Government benefits, net returns from investments and child support. From this amount, subtract any tax deductions you are entitled to receive. This will give you your family's annual 'Combined Household Income'.
Your family’s ‘Combined Household Income’ is also used to determine the annual cap on your family’s subsidy entitlement. For families with an annual ‘Combined Household Income’ of $186,958 or less, there is no annual cap on how much you can claim towards your childcare costs. In contrast, families with $351,248 or more of annual ‘Combined Household Income’ will have an annual cap of $0. This means that those families will not receive any funding child care assistance from the Government and will be required to pay the full amount of their childcare fees. For families with an annual ‘Combined Household Income’ of more than $186,958 and less than $351,248 the annual cap on the funding they receive will be $10,190 per child. The Child Care Subsidy estimator will automatically apply the annual cap that applies to your family.
The amount of ‘Activity Hours’ your family conducts
The number of hours of childcare that your family can claim financial support for depends on the 'Activity Hours' your family conducts each fortnight. ‘Activity Hours’ are the number of hours your family performs working, studying, volunteering, job seeking and on parental leave. To understand your family’s ‘Activity Hours’, the Child Care Subsidy calculator will ask you some questions about your family and how many hours you and other members of your family spend on eligible activities.
Calculating how much your family can claim
Calculating the amount of subsidy that your family will receive is rather complex and time consuming. The great news is that our new Child Care Subsidy calculator makes estimating your family’s entitlement and out of pocket childcare costs quick and easy. As mentioned above, the new Child Care Subsidy replaces the Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate. Our Child Care Subsidy estimator therefore is the new Child Care Benefit calculator. The calculator is free for all families to use to estimate their subsidy.
How are subsidies claimed?
The payments you receive are paid directly to your childcare provider and apply against your childcare fees to determine your family’s out of pocket costs. For payments to be paid to your childcare provider, you will be required to complete several steps:
- apply for a customer reference number (CRN) from Centrelink,
- create a Centrelink account online,
- create a MyGov account, and
- complete your Child Care Subsidy assessment and make a claim.
If you already have a customer reference number, Centrelink account online and MyGov account then you should be able to progress straight to step 4 above. To do so, log into myGov and select Services > Centrelink. Select Complete your assessment task and work through the steps to complete your application.