Express Plus Families app
Express Plus Families offers you a simple, fast, mobile way to do your Centrelink business on the go using your mobile device.
- use approved or registered child care
- be responsible for paying the child care fees
- have immunised your child
- meet an income test
Eligibility & payment rates
Eligibility for Child Care Benefit
To be eligible for Child Care Benefit you need to meet all of the following:
- use approved or registered child care
- you are responsible for paying the child care fees for your child
- your child is immunised (or on an immunisation catch-up schedule) or is exempt from the immunisation requirements
- participate in work-related commitments
- meet the income test
- meet the residency requirements
Other factors can affect your eligibility, including:
- your child is starting school
- changes in income
- your entering a salary-sacrifice arrangement with your employer (in which some or all of your child care fees are paid for you)
- one of your children is no longer using care
- you or your partner no longer meet the Work, Training, Study test
Payment rates for Child Care Benefit
Child Care Benefit rates are adjusted on 1 July each year, in line with the Consumer Price Index—changes to the cost of living. This means that the rates are different for each new financial year. Child Care Benefit is either paid to the service provider who cares for your child, or paid to you directly.
You may be able to receive a higher payment if you are a grandparent, or if your child has special needs. Grandparent Child Care Benefit and Special Child Care Benefit have additional eligibility requirements.
The following payment rates for 2012–13 are a guide only.
At the end of each financial year, your Child Care Benefit is balanced against your actual annual family income when you and your partner lodge your tax returns. The amount of Child Care Benefit you received throughout the year will be checked against the amount you should have received. This review can identify whether a top-up payment is required, no adjustment is needed or an overpayment has been made.
The current approved care rate for a non school-aged child in up to 50 hours of care per week is $3.90 per hour, or $195 per week.
Payment rates for school-aged children are 85 per cent of the non-school-aged rate.
You can claim up to 24 hours of care per child per week, unless you and your partner meet the Work, Training, Study test for Child Care Benefit. If you meet the test, or are exempt from it, you can get up to 50 hours of care per child per week.
The current registered care rate for a non school-aged child in up to 50 hours of care per week is $0.652 per hour, or $32.60 per week.
Payment rates for school-age children are 85 per cent of the non-school-age rate.
You are paid Child Care Benefit for registered child care directly if you lodge a claim and provide your child-care receipts to us.
Payment options for Child Care Benefit
You can choose how your Child Care Benefit payments can be made.
Child Care Benefit for approved child care can be paid as a fee reduction or as a lump sum.
If you choose to claim your Child Care Benefit as a fee reduction, it will be paid directly to your Child Care Benefit approved child care service provider. Your Child Care Benefit is based on your estimate of your actual annual family income for the financial year.
The amount will be deducted from the amount of your child care fees by the child care services. You will have to pay any 'gap' in outstanding fees.
You must claim Child Care Benefit as a fee reduction if you want to receive your Child Care Rebate as a fortnightly payment (in many cases weekly), or as a quarterly payment, even if you are assessed at a zero rate of Child Care Benefit.
Choosing this option will allow us to balance your Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate entitlements without the need for you to lodge a Child Care Benefit lump sum claim.
You can claim your Child Care Benefit as a lump sum. If you choose to claim a lump sum payment, you will pay full child care fees to your child care service provider during the year, and after the end of the financial year, you can lodge a claim for the Child Care Benefit as a lump sum.
You have two years to lodge your claim for the financial year for which you are claiming. Any Child Care Rebate will also be paid as a lump sum at that time.
Child Care Benefit for registered child care is paid directly to you as a lump sum when you lodge a claim and provide your child care receipts.
Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate cannot be claimed through the tax system.
That the two years is measured in financial years, not calendar years.
Payments for registered care is made in a lump sum. You need to provide all original receipts for the periods you are claiming for, and you must lodge your claim within a year of the care being provided and paid for.
Your receipts must have the following information:
- registered carers name, address and Carer Reference Number
- your full name
- hours of care provided and fee
- registered carers signature and the date
Income test for Child Care Benefit
To qualify for Child Care Benefit for approved child care, you need to meet an income test. You do not have to meet an assets test. You need to lodge a claim for Child Care Benefit, even at the zero rate, to be eligible for Child Care Rebate.
The amount of Child Care Benefit you can get for approved care depends on your yearly family income. You need to tell us about any changes to your income. Remember that you can update/advise your family income estimate online.
The maximum rate is payable for actual annual family income under $41,026 or families on income support.
Payments reduce to $0 if income is more than these thresholds:
|Number of children in care||Income limits before your payment reduces to $0|
|3 or more||$166,656 plus $31,495 for each child after the third|
To qualify for Child Care Benefit for registered care, you do not have to meet an income or assets test.
Immunisation requirements for Child Care Benefit
To get Child Care Benefit, your children must meet immunisation requirements if they are under the age of seven. You must be able to show to us:
- your child’s immunisation is up to date
- your child is on a catch-up immunisation schedule
- you have an approved exemption from the immunisation requirements for your child
Residency requirements for Child Care Benefit
To meet residency requirements you and your children must be an Australian resident and in Australia on the day that you lodge your claim.
To be an Australian resident, you must be living in Australia as:
- an Australian citizen
- the holder of a permanent resident visa, or
- the holder of a special-category visa - that is, someone with a New Zealand passport living in Australia, or
- a New Zealand citizen who was in Australia on 26 February 2001 or for 12 months in the two years immediately before that date, or who was assessed before 26 February 2004 as 'protected'
Newly arrived residents generally have a two-year waiting period. Some exemptions apply for refugees, holders of certain other permanent visas, Australian citizens, and in some circumstances their partners and dependent children.
Alternatively to the general residency requirements set out above, you may also qualify for Child Care Benefit if you are:
- a student from overseas sponsored by the Australian Government to undertake a course of study in Australia, or
- in some circumstances, a temporary visa holder suffering temporary hardship or special circumstances exist
Approved care for Child Care Benefit
Approved child care, for the purpose of Child Care Benefit, is care by a child care service provider approved by the Australian Government to accept Child Care Benefit on your behalf. This means in most cases you pay less money out of your own pocket. Approved child care can include outside school-hours care, family day care, vacation care, long day care, in-home care, and some occasional-care services.
If you use approved child care, you can claim Child Care Benefit of:
- up to 24 hours per child per week, available to all eligible families, or
- up to 50 hours per child per week if:
- you or your partner (if applicable) are a grandparent with primary care of a grandchild (in child care),
- you (and your partner) are working, looking for work, training, or studying for at least 15 hours per week (or 30 hours per fortnight), or
- you (and your partner) have an exemption from that requirement
Sometimes, more than 50 hours per week is available to families in certain circumstances who need extra assistance.
How to find an approved child care service
The Australian Government website mychild.gov.au provides information to help you choose a child care service that meets your needs.
You can also call the Child Care Access Hotline, to help you find information about Child Care Benefit approved child care providers all over Australia. You can contact the Child Care Access Hotline on FreecallTM 1800 670 305 (TTY Service FreecallTM 1800 639 327) between 8 am and 6 pm nationally Monday to Friday.
Registered care for Child Care Benefit
Registered child care is care provided by grandparents, relatives, friends, or nannies who have approval as a registered carer with the Australian Government. In some cases, it can also include care provided by individuals in private preschools, kindergartens and outside school-hours services.
Child Care Benefit for registered care is paid at a standard hourly rate for up to 50 hours per child per week if:
- you (and your partner) are working, looking for work, training, or studying at some time in the week that care is provided or
- you (and your partner) have an exemption from that requirement
To claim Child Care Benefit for Registered Care you need to download the claim form and lodge with receipts within 12 months of the care being provided.
Grandparent Child Care Benefit
If you are a grandparent with primary care of your grandchild, you may be able to get extra help with child care fees. Grandparent Child Care Benefit covers the full cost of approved child care for up to 50 hours for each child per week. It is paid directly to your child care service provider.
You may be able to get Grandparent Child Care Benefit if you or your partner:
- are the biological, adoptive or step grandparent of the child
- have primary care of a grandchild – this means that you are the person who is most responsible for meeting the child’s daily care needs, and
- receive one of the following income support payments:
- Age Pension
- Austudy payment
- Bereavement Allowance
- Carer Payment
- Disability Support Pension (including Disability Support Pension Blind)
- Income Support Supplement
- Newstart Allowance
- Parenting Payment Partnered
- Parenting Payment Single
- Partner Allowance
- a Service Pension
- Sickness Allowance
- Special Benefit
- Widow Allowance
- Widow B Pension
- Wife Pension
- Youth Allowance
Great-grandparents and current and former partners of grandparents are also eligible.
To get Grandparent Child Care Benefit, you must first claim and be eligible for Child Care Benefit.
Grandparent advisers are in selected service centres to support grandparents with full-time caring responsibility for their grandchildren.
Special Child Care Benefit
Special Child Care Benefit can help cover the cost of child care, up to and including the total fee charged by your child care provider for:
- children who are at risk of serious abuse or neglect, and that risk would be reduced if the child attended child care for longer hours, but the cost of care makes this difficult
- families experiencing hardship by helping them maintain access to child care while they adapt to their new circumstances. For example, serious short term illness, hospitalisation and short term carer responsibilities
Your child care provider can approve Special Child Care Benefit for up to 13 weeks in any financial year. If you want to receive Special Child Care Benefit longer than this, your application will need to be assessed by us. Speak to your child care provider for more information.
To get Special Child Care Benefit you must first claim and be eligible for Child Care Benefit.
Work, Training, Study test for Child Care Benefit
Provides up to 50 hours of Child Care Benefit for approved child care per week if you meet the Work, Training, Study test to eligible customers.
Absences and Child Care Benefit
Child Care Benefit can be paid in some situations if you are charged for child care when your child is absent. These absence rules also apply to Child Care Rebate and to Jobs, Education and Training (JET) Child Care Fee Assistance.
Child Care Benefit is paid for each child for up to 42 absences per financial year from all approved child care services (not from each service) except occasional-care. These absence days can be taken for any reason, with no evidence required.
Child Care Benefit is also paid for additional absences, beyond the 42 days, for certain reasons. There is no limit on these days, but supporting documentation may be required. Please talk to your child care provider regarding additional absence information and any supporting document requirements.
Child Care Benefit, Child Care Rebate, and JET Child Care Fee Assistance are not payable for absences if your child uses more than their 42 absence days for the financial year and does not meet the conditions for additional absences.
For occasional care, Child Care Benefit is paid for an absence if the child care has been booked and paid for at the occasional-care service. There is no limit on the number of absences.
Families can access their child's absence record or view their child care attendance online statement via Centrelink Online Services.
Child Care Rebate when you receive Child Care Benefit
Child Care Rebate assists parents and guardians who meet the Work, Training, Study test with out-of-pocket expenses for Child Care Benefit–approved child care.
You will automatically be assessed for Child Care Rebate when you lodge a claim for Child Care Benefit for approved child care.
For more information, see Child Care Rebate.
To become a Registered child care provider
If you are 18 years of age or over, you can apply to be a registered child care provider.
Other benefits while receiving Child Care Benefit
If you qualify for Child Care Benefit you may be entitled to other payments and benefits, such as:
Once you have read about eligibility the next steps are:
- read the conditions for claiming
- decide how you will submit your claim, online or in person
- provide supporting documentation
- submit your claim
- we will assess your claim and let you know the outcome
- decide how you will receive your payment
Managing your payment
Change of circumstances while receiving Child Care Benefit
You need to tell us if your circumstances change when you are receiving a payment. For example, if:
- your care arrangements change
- you or your partner’s income changes
- your personal circumstances change
- you change your address
- you do not have to lodge a tax return
- your work or study load changes
- you leave Australia
If you do not tell us about the changes within 14 days your payment may be affected. You may be overpaid benefits and you will probably have to pay the money back.
If you deliberately do not tell us about changes, you could be charged with fraud, and a recovery fee may be imposed.
Payments paid while outside Australia
There are rules about getting your payment when you leave Australia.
Child Care Online Estimator
The estimator lets you work out child care costs that you may be entitled to receive, based on your individual circumstances. You can work out a dollar amount for Child Care Benefit for approved child care, Child Care Rebate entitlements, and out-of-pocket child care costs. The estimator can help you make informed decisions about child care.
Use the Child Care Online Estimator
Online hub for parents
Visit the Australian Government's online hub for parents at mychild.gov.au.
National Quality Framework
Read more about the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care on the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations website
Australian Childrens Education and Care Quality Authority
Read more about State and Territory Regulatory Authorities.