Centrelink provides families with financial assistance to help cover the cost of child care through the Child Care Subsidy (CCS).
The department also provides financial assistance in covering the costs of pre-approved child care for foster and kinship carers.
Changes to current child care assistance
There are a number of changes to how the department provides financial assistance for child care.
1. Register with Centrelink
If you have not already registered with Centrelink you will need to register and apply for the Child Care Subsidy.
If you do not register with Centrelink, the department cannot provide additional funding assistance.
See the Department of Human Services website for details on applying for assistance.
2. Elect for payments to go directly to the child care provider
You can now elect for this subsidy to be paid directly to the child care service provider.
This option is not mandatory, but is available to carers if they wish.
If a carer chooses this option, they will need to provide all invoices for pre-approved child care to the department who will make payment directly to the child care centre.
3. Repay any child care rebate reimbursements
At the end of the financial year, you will be required to repay any child care subsidy reimbursement you receive to the department (if you register to receive child care assistance directly through the department).
See the Information for Child Care providers fact sheet (PDF, 269.0 KB) for more information that can be provided to child care providers.
Why do I need to repay the department if I receive a lump sum?
Centrelink will withhold a percentage of CCS to help reduce the likelihood of overpayment. As the department will be paying your total child care costs upfront we will deduct this rebate over time from your carer payments.
Child Care Subsidy
Centrelink asks carers to estimate their annual income when determining their CCS entitlements.
If Centrelink determines you have been overpaid and are required to ‘pay back’ Centrelink, you can present this documentation to the department to seek approval for reimbursement.
If Centrelink determines you have been underpaid and you receive a lump sum payment for child care assistance, you must repay the amount to the department.
How do I access child care assistance?
If you believe you are eligible for child care assistance, speak with your case worker in the first instance.
You will need to demonstrate why a child in your care needs to attend child care, as well as meet a number of eligibility criteria.
When you receive child care assistance from the department as a foster or kinship carer you must:
- follow the eligibility criteria
- advise the department within 14 days when changes that affect funding occur (eg you are now eligible to receive the CCS)
- submit child care tax invoices to the department for payment – ideally within 14 days
- repay any CCS repayment received at the end of the financial year to the department.
Additional Child Care Subsidy (child wellbeing)
There may be circumstances where an Additional Child Care Subsidy (ACCS) (child wellbeing) may be available from Centrelink, in addition to the CCS.
Where you may be eligible to receive the ACCS (child wellbeing) your child care provider may give a certificate providing up to 6 weeks of this additional subsidy.
To be eligible for ACCS (child wellbeing):
- you must already be receiving CCS from Centrelink
- the child in your care must be considered to be at risk of serious abuse or harm. (A child under the custody or guardianship of the Chief Executive of the Department for Child Protection is sufficient to meet the Australian Government at-risk requirement.)
Where a child care provider considers your circumstances will continue for longer than 6 weeks, the provider may seek a determination from the Australian Government Department for Human Services for additional 13 week periods of the ACCS (child wellbeing).
Child care providers can refer to the Requesting evidence for ACCS (child wellbeing) fact sheet (PDF, 190.8 KB) for additional information.
Speak with your case worker in the first instance.