What you need to know about the subsidy
What is the Child Care Subsidy?
The Child Care Subsidy (CCS) is the largest financial assistance scheme provided by the federal government in Australia to reduce the cost of child care. The CCS became available to families on 2 July 2018, replacing the Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate. The subsidy is a simplified way to make childcare affordable for more families. Primarily for families with children attending long day care and by extension, out of hours school care, family day care and in-home care.
Why does the Government provide subsidies for childcare?
The government reduces the cost of child care and provides assistance to:
- increase the level of early education that children receive to improve their development, and
- reduce the financial burden of parents and guardians to have their children in childcare, increasing their level of work and study.
The CCS replaced several previous programs including the Child Care Benefit, Child Care Rebate and Jobs, Education and Training Child Care Fee Assistance Programme, to simplify child care fee assistance for families.
Who is eligible?
To find out how much your family can claim for the subsidy, you must first assess your eligibility. You or your partner must first meet four (4) eligibility criteria to be eligible for the CCS.
- care for your child 2 or more nights per fortnight, have a 14% share of care, or receive Family Tax Benefit for their child
- use an approved child care service and be responsible for paying childcare fees
- reside in Australia for a minimum of 46 weeks of the financial year, and
- meet the following residency requirements:
- have Australian citizenship, or
- hold a permanent visa, or
- hold a Special Category visa, or
- hold a certain temporary visa type.
If you or your partner do not meet the fourth criteria, 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.
Additionally, your child must meet two (2) eligibility requirements for your family to be eligible for child care subsidy assistance. Your child must be:
- 13 years of age or under, and not attending secondary school, and
- is up to date with immunisations in line with the National Immunisation Program Schedule published by the Department of Health.
You may apply for exemptions to these criteria if your child:
- is following 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 be eligible for an exemption, you must demonstrate why your child cannot be left without supervision, and confirm that no adults are available to care for your child.
How is the Child Care Subsidy calculated?
There are three (3) factors that determine the amount of CCS funding that your family can receive if you are eligible for childcare support:
- 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 amount of Child Care Subsidy (CCS) a family can get depends on the type of approved child care they use. There are four approved care types and the type your child is attending determines the ‘Maximum Hourly Rate’ that your family can claim. The different types of approved child care are:
- centre-based day care, including long day care and occasional care
- family day care
- outside school hours care, including before, after and vacation care
- in home care
If the ‘Maximum Hourly Rate’ for your type of childcare is higher than the hourly rate used by your childcare provider, the lower hourly rate 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 so that the subsidy each family receives depends upon their income (i.e. their ‘means’). You will need to provide an estimate of your ‘Combined Household Income’ for the Child Care Subsidy Estimator. You will need to include all sources of income from you and your partner including wages and salary, superannuation, Government benefits, net returns from investments and child support. Then subtract any tax deductions you are entitled to receive and use this figure when providing your family’s ‘Combined Household Income’.
The annual cap on your family’s subsidy entitlement is determined by your family’s ‘Combined Household Income’. There is no annual cap on the amount of childcare cost claims for families with an annual ‘Combined Household Income’ up to $186,958. Families with an annual ‘Combined Household Income’ between $186,958 and $351,248 will have an annual cap of $10,190 per child. However, families with an annual ‘Combined Household Income’ of $351,248 or more will have an annual cap of $0, meaning they will not receive any child care assistance from the Government. The Child Care Subsidy estimator will automatically apply the annual cap that applies to your family.
The amount of ‘Activity Hours’ your family conducts
‘Activity Hours’ are the number of hours that your family does any of the following activities:
- paid work, including being self-employed
- paid or unpaid leave, including parental or maternity leave
- unpaid work in a family business, work experience, internship or volunteering
- training to improve work skills or employment prospects
- an approved course of education or study
- actively setting up a business or looking for work
The number of ’Activity Hours’ your family participates in each fortnight determines the number of hours of childcare that your family can claim for financial support from the subsidy. For an understanding of your family’s ’Activity Hours’, our Child Care Subsidy Calculator will ask you some questions about the time your family spends on eligible activities.
Calculating how much your family can claim
Calculating the amount of financial support that your family will receive from the subsidy is lengthy and complicated but our new Child Care Subsidy calculator makes estimating your subsidy entitlements quick and easy.
As we mentioned above, the Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate is replaced by the new Child Care Subsidy so this estimator is the new Child Care Benefit calculator. The calculator is free for all families to use to estimate their subsidy.
How are subsidies claimed?
Subsidy payments are paid directly to your childcare provider which determines your family’s out of pocket costs for child care fees. There are several steps you are required to complete for payments to be made to your child care provider:
- create a MyGov account
- create a Centrelink account online and link to your MyGov account
- apply for a customer reference number (CRN) from Centrelink, and
- select Make a Claim > Child Care Subsidy in your Centrelink account to complete your Child Care Subsidy assessment, and
- submit your claim once all questions have been answered
If you already have a customer reference number, Centrelink account online and MyGov account then you should be able to move straight to step 4 above. To do so, log in to myGov and select Services > Centrelink. Select Complete your assessment task and work through the steps to complete your application.