Back to Listing
Childcare rebates and benefits explained to help you budget
28 June 2017
When you are preparing your family budget there are many types of expenses to consider. Some expenses such as your mortgage or rent, utilities and insurances are regular or easy to estimate, but others such as childcare costs are a little more complex.
When preparing your family budget, the costs of childcare will be classified as expenses and any benefits you are entitled to will be classified as income. If you receive a direct payment of your rebate or benefit, make sure when you are preparing your budget you account for when the payments come in whether they are weekly, monthly or lump sum payments.
Today we explore the major childcare rebates and benefits for working families so that you are aware of your entitlements and can create an accurate budget.
The government recognises that childcare is an essential service for parents returning to work. It also recognises the cost associated with this service and provides a range of rebates, assistance and benefits to reduce this cost burden on working families.
There is a wide range of childcare choices available to Australian families with the right option being based on the needs and circumstances of each household. The options range from long day care which offers dedicated full day services in a specifically designed facility through to family day care, outside school hour's care and occasional care whereby the service is limited to a casual and irregular basis.
Approved childcare is care that is approved by the Australian Government for Child Care Benefit (CCB) purposes because they meet certain standard and requirements. Families who satisfy eligibility requirements for CCB may receive payments if they use CCB approved child care. Three requirements must be met in order to become eligible for CCB:
- Applicants must meet residency requirements (or have an exemption)
- Children under the age of 7 must meet the Australian government immunisation requirements (or have an exemption)
- The individual carer must be the person responsible for paying the childcare costs.
Registered childcare is childcare provided by grandparents or other relatives, friends or nannies that are registered with the Department of Human Services as registered care providers. These carers are eligible for the CCB should they meet certain requirements including a minimum age and specific qualifications.
For CCB approved childcare, all eligible families receive up to 24 hours per child, per week of CCB without meeting the work, training, study test. For up to 50 hours per child per week, the carer will need to meet the work, training or study test of completing at least 15 hours per week or have an exemption from this test. Child Care Benefit (CCB) offers a payment from the Australian Government that helps you with the cost of childcare.
You can choose to receive CCB as a lump sum payment or as reduced childcare fees. The amount of CCB depends on income, the type of care (approved or registered), the amount of care used, the reason the care is being used and the number of children held in care.
The Australian Government provides assistance to eligible families to reduce the out of pocket costs of child care. There are different types of financial assistance to help with the cost of placing children in childcare. Other than the CCB, families may be eligible for the following:
- Child Care Rebate
- Jobs, Education and Training Child Care fee assistance
- Grandparent Child Care Benefit
- Special Child Care Benefit
Click here for more information specifically about the Child Care Benefit (CCB)
Child Care Rebate
Child Care Rebate (CCR) is another type of financial assistance that is offered by the Australian Government. The CCR pays up to 50 per cent of the out of pocket expenses for childcare up to an annual cap of $7,500 per child per year. Importantly, the CCR is not income tested subsequently families which have an income that exceeds the eligibility to access the CCB can still access the CCR should they meet the other requirement as set out for the CCB (even though the CCB assessment maybe rated at zero). Incidentally, recent figures produced by the Australian Government confirmed that up to 100,000 families currently using approved childcare are not claiming their childcare rebate and subsequently missing out on a collective sum of approximately $190 million in government payments.
You may choose to receive the Child Care Rebate on a weekly or fortnightly basis, paid either to your child care service as a fee reduction or directly to your bank account.
Click here for more information specifically about the Child Care Rebate (CCR)
Jobs, Education and Training Child Care fee assistance
Jobs, Education and Training (JET) Child Care fee assistance is a payment to help with the cost of approved childcare if the carer is eligible for the income support payment. It can help meet the cost of care by paying most of the "gap fee" - that is, the difference between the full fee and the Child Care Benefit whilst the carer participates in work, study or training activities. This payment is only available if the applicant is eligible to receive the maximum rate of Child Care Benefit and receive an eligible income support payment.
Click here for more information specifically about JET Child Care fee assistance
Grandparent Child Care Benefit
Grandparent Child Care Benefit is available to grandparents who:
- meets the existing Child Care Benefit eligibility requirements
- receive a income support payment from Department of Human Services or the Department of Veterans' Affairs
- are the sole or major provider of the ongoing daily care for their grandchild and has the responsibility for the day-to-day decisions about their grandchild's care, welfare and development.
Grandparent Child Care Benefit covers the full cost of the total fee charged for Child Care Benefit eligible hours-up to 50 hours for each child in Child Care Benefit approved care each week.
Click here for more information specifically about the Grandparent Child Care Benefit
Special Child Care Benefit
Special Child Care Benefit can help where there is:
- a child at risk of serious abuse or neglect, or
- a family with an exceptional case of short term financial hardship which has substantially reduced their capacity to pay child care fees.
Click here for more information specifically about the Special Child Care Benefit
There is so much information about child care and early childhood information available that you might not know where to start looking for answers, so I encourage people to either logon to www.mychild.gov.au or alternatively contact the Department of Human Services on 136 150.