Changes to Child Care Benefits

Heard about the child care benefit changes being rolled out in Australia later this year?

Child care and early learning is an important part of children’s development. It provides them with the foundation to grow and develop in a safe environment. It teaches them to socialise with other children, and helps parents who need to return to work. Nevertheless, child care in Australia can be expensive. Luckily, there is support available. If you have any children attending Australian child care you may be eligible to receive financial assistance from the government. In this blogpost, we’ll explain all you need to know about receiving Child Care income support. However, there will be changes being rolled out at the middle of this year, and we’ll explain that too.

Childcare rebate vs. child care benefit

The child care benefit works by doing an income test on the family’s financial circumstances. It is usually paid directly to the child care service provider which means it reduces the fees that families have to pay.

On the other hand, the childcare rebate is an additional payment to the Child Care benefit. It helps families to cover out-of-pocket costs of child care. Though this type of payment is not income tested. So, for example, if your family’s income is too high to receive a child care benefit, you may be eligible to receive the childcare rebate.

Who is eligible to receive the Child Care benefit?

To be eligible to receive the Child Care benefit your child must be attending an approved or registered childcare. Your child must also meet the immunisation requirements. In addition, you must be the person who is responsible for paying the child care fees.

How much can you receive with the child care benefit?

The amount you can receive with a child care benefit is 4.30 per child per hour or $215 per week. Though payment rates for school aged children are 85% of the non-school aged rate.

Who is eligible for the child care rebate?

To be eligible for the childcare rebate you or your partner must have had work, training or study related commitments during some time during the week when care is provided. You must also be using an approved child care service. In addition, your partner must be an Australian citizen or a permanent resident living in Australia. Alternatively, you are eligible if you have an exemption from the government’s residency requirements. Your children under 7 years of age must also meet the immunisation requirements. You must also be the one responsible for paying your child care costs.

How much can you receive with the child care rebate?

The amount you can receive with the child care rebate is currently $7,613 per child per annum. You can either choose to receive the rebate fortnightly or directly into your bank account. You can also choose to have this paid directly to your child care provider in the form of a fee reduction.

How can you claim the child care rebate?

To claim the child care rebate, you must apply for the child care benefit first. There isn’t a separate form to fill out for the child care rebate. To apply, you can either visit a physical Centrelink service centre or you can apply online. However, there are some changes being made to the current child care package.

What are the changes?

From the 2nd of July 2018 changes will made to the existing child care package. The Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate will both be replaced by the Child Care Subsidy (CCS). It will be the new way that the government will assist families with paying their childcare fees. Therefore, families will need to start preparing for how the changes are going to affect them.
To find out how much you will be eligible to receive with the new Child Care Subsidy, you can use the CCS estimator to work out how much you are eligible to receive.

The estimator is very user friendly and only takes a few minutes to complete. It is going to be a much simpler way to receive child care assistance.

Who is eligible to receive the Child Care Subsidy?

There are some basic requirements that must be met to receive the CCS. The child must be under the age of 13 and not attending secondary school. The child must meet the immunisation requirements. The individual and their partner must meet the residency requirements.

On top of the requirements for the child, the individual receiving the CCS must be the one who is liable for paying for the care of the child. The care must also be delivered by an approved child care provider and not be part of a compulsory education program.

For after child education ensure you check whether higher education is worth it.

How does the Child Care Subsidy work?

The way that the child care subsidy works is it takes into consideration three different factors:

  • Combined Family Income

    the percentage of the subsidy that a family will be entitled to receive will be determined by assessing their combined annual income. There will be more financial support available to lower income families.

  • The Activity Test

    the refers to the number of hours of activity the parent undertakes. An activity can refer to many work related activities including: paid work, self-employed work, unpaid work in the family business, training courses, study course, volunteering, actively looking for work, paid parental leave. The number of hours of activity that the parents do will determine the number of hours the child is eligible to be subsidised for.

  • Service Type

    the final factor that helps determine CCS is the service type, which refers to what type of child care service a family decides to use. There are 3 different service types: Centre Based Day Care, Family Day Care and Outside School Hours Care. The hourly cap parents can receive varies between the 3 different types.

How much can families receive with the Child Care Subsidy?

Families earning between $185,710 and $350,000, will have an annual cap of $10,000 they will be eligible to receive per child. Those with a combined family income of less than $185,710, do not have an annual cap of $10,000.

Keep in mind, that since the amount you can receive is capped you may run out by the end of the year. Depending on how your choose for your payments to be structured, whether it’s paid to your child care centre or paid directly to you. It’s important to keep in mind that this could run out by the time you reach the end of the year. That’s why it might be a good idea to make extra payments towards childcare throughout the year, so you aren’t left with having to make a large payment at the end of the year, especially since Christmas is such a busy and expensive time.

What is the Child Care Safety Net?

As a part of the new child care package, something called the Child Care Safety Net is being rolled out. This package is designed to give the most vulnerable children a start at life. It will also help to support parents into finding work. The Child Care Safety Net is made up of 3 components:

  • Additional child care subsidy

    this is a top up payment to the Child Care Subsidy designed to assist families who face barriers to accessing affordable child care.

  • Community child care fund

    eligible child care services can apply for supplementary funding to support families facing barriers to access childcare.

  • Inclusion support programme

    this program assists mainstream services to improve their capacity to provide inclusion practices for children with additional needs, such as those with a disability.

  • In summary, if you need to send your child to child care so you can work or study, there will be support there for you. The government is helping to provide support for families so their children can be looked after in a safe learning environment while they go to work. There are some changes being made to the way child care support works, but it has been created in a way that is going to support families with lower incomes, and those working longer hours.

    Nevertheless, if the funds you receive from Centrelink aren’t enough to cover your child care costs, you could consider getting a quick personal loan with Personal Loan Pal, to help you cover the costs of child care.