- use approved or registered child care
- be responsible for paying the child care fees
- immunise your child
Eligibility & payment rates
Eligibility for Child Care Benefit
To be eligible you need to:
- use approved or registered child care
- be responsible for paying the child care fees for your child
- ensure your child is immunised, on an immunisation catch up schedule, or is exempt from the immunisation requirements
- meet the residence requirements
To receive more than a zero rate of Child Care Benefit you must meet the income test.
Other factors can affect your Child Care Benefit, including:
- your child starting school
- changes in income
- if you enter into 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 no longer using care
- you or your partner no longer meeting the Work, Training, Study test
- your participation in work, training or study related commitments
Approved care for Child Care Benefit
Child Care Benefit approved child care services have Australian Government approval to pass on the Child Care Benefit for approved care to families as a reduction in their child care fees. This means you pay less money out of your own pocket. Approved child care can include:
- long day care
- family day care
- outside school hours care
- vacation care
- in-home care
- occasional care
It does not include care provided for schooling once your child begins the recognised primary level of school for each state. Ask your child care service if they are approved for Child Care Benefit or check on the mychild website.
If you use approved child care, you can receive:
- 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 are a grandparent with primary care of a grandchild
- 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
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 mychild website provides information to help you choose a child care service that meets your needs.
You can also find information about Child Care Benefit approved child care services all over Australia by calling the Child Care Access Hotline between 8 am and 6 pm Monday to Friday on:
- FreecallTM 1800 670 305, or
- TTY Service FreecallTM 1800 639 327
Registered care for Child Care Benefit
Registered child care is care provided by individuals who are registered as carers with us. It can include care provided by grandparents, relatives, friends, neighbours or nannies. In some cases, it can also include care provided by individuals in private preschools, kindergartens and some outside school hour services including before and after school care, vacation care and holiday programs.
It does not include care provided for schooling once your child begins the recognised primary level of school for each state.
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
Payment rates for Child Care Benefit
These rates are adjusted on 1 July each year, in line with the consumer price index. This means that the rates are different each financial year.
The payment is either paid to the child care service that cares for your child or paid to you directly.
The following payment rates for 2015-16 are a guide only.
The current approved care rate for a non-school aged child is $4.17 per hour, or $208.50 per week.
Payment rates for school aged children are 85% of the non-school aged rate.
Depending on your circumstances, you may be entitled to a different rate than stated. For example, your family's income, the number of children attending child care, the type of child care service and the number of hours you use can all affect your payment.
You can get up to 24 hours of care per child per week without participating in any Work, Training or Study test activities. If you meet the test, or are exempt from it, you can get up to 50 hours of care per child per week.
You may be able to get a higher rate of payment if you are a grandparent or if your family has special circumstances. Grandparent Child Care Benefit and Special Child Care Benefit have additional eligibility requirements.
You can use the rate estimator to calculate how much Child Care Benefit you may be entitled to.
The current registered care rate for a non-school aged child in up to 50 hours of care per week is $0.696 per hour, or $34.80 per child per week.
Payment rates for school aged children are 85% of the non-school aged rate.
You are paid Child Care Benefit for registered child care directly if you submit a claim and provide your child care receipts to us.
Payment options for Child Care Benefit
You can choose how your Child Care Benefit can be paid.
Primary school levels for Child Care Benefit
Child Care Benefit is not paid for care provided for schooling once your child commences the recognised primary school level of schooling for each state.
Recognised primary school levels for each state and territory
|State/territory||Recognised primary level||Not recognised as primary level|
|Australian Capital Territory||Kindergarten||Years 1–6||Preschool|
|New South Wales||Kindergarten||Years 1–6||Preschool|
|Northern Territory||Transition||Years 1–6||Preschool|
|South Australia||Reception||Years 1–7||Kindergarten|
|Western Australia||Pre-primary||Years 1–7||Kindergarten|
Income test for Child Care Benefit
Whether you need an income test depends on the type of care your child is in.
To receive Child Care Benefit for approved care, you need to be eligible and meet an income test. You do not have to meet an assets test. Even though you may not receive any benefit due to your income, you may still be eligible for Child Care Rebate.
The amount of benefit you get for approved care depends on your annual family income. If you receive the benefit as reduced fees through the year, we will work out your fee reduction based on your annual family income estimate.
You need to tell us about any changes to your income through the year. This will minimise the risk of an overpayment when we balance your family assistance payments at the end of the year. You can update or advise us of your family income estimate using Centrelink online account through myGov.
The maximum rate is payable for actual annual family income of less than $43,727 or for families receiving income support.
You will not be entitled to any Child Care Benefit for approved care if your family income is more than the following thresholds:
|Number of children attending approved child care||Income limits before your payment reduces to $0|
|3 or more||$178,023 plus $33,671 for each child after the third|
To have your eligibility for Child Care Rebate assessed, you need to submit a claim for Child Care Benefit for approved care.
To qualify for Child Care Benefit for registered care, you do not have to meet an income or assets test.
Becoming a registered carer allows eligible families to claim Child Care Benefit for the child care you provide.
Adjusted taxable income
Your adjusted taxable income will be used to assess your entitlement for some payments, supplements, support and benefits.
Immunisation requirements for Child Care Benefit
Your children must meet immunisation requirements if they are under the age of 7. You must be able to show us that:
- your child’s immunisation is up to date
- your child is on a catch-up immunisation schedule, or
- you have an approved exemption from the immunisation requirements for your child
Read more about immunising your children.
Residence requirements for Child Care Benefit
- have Australian citizenship
- hold a permanent visa
- hold a special category visa, or
- hold a certain temporary visa type, for example, a partner provisional, interdependency or temporary protection visa
Alternatively, you may meet residence requirements for Child Care Benefit if:
- you and or your partner are a student from overseas, sponsored by the Australian Government to undertake a course of study in Australia, or
- you are suffering temporary hardship or special circumstances exist
You must meet the residence requirements on the day you submit your claim.
You or your partner must continue to meet the above residence requirements for as long as you get this payment.
Grandparent Child Care Benefit
If you are a grandparent with primary care of your grandchild, and your grandchild is attending approved child care, 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 per child per week. It is paid directly to your child care service.
You may be able to get this benefit if you or your partner:
- is the biological, adoptive or step grandparent of the child
- has primary care of a grandchild - this means you are the person who is most responsible for meeting the child’s daily care needs, and
- receives one of the following income support payments:
- Age Pension
- Bereavement Allowance
- Carer Payment
- Disability Support Pension, including Disability Support Pension Blind
- Income Support Supplement
- Newstart Allowance
- Parenting Payment
- Partner Allowance
- Service Pension
- Sickness Allowance
- Special Benefit
- Widow Allowance
- Widow B Pension
- Wife Pension, or
- Youth Allowance
Great grandparents and current and former partners of grandparents who have primary care of a grandchild may also be eligible.
To get this benefit, you must first claim and be eligible for Child Care Benefit.
We have Grandparent advisers in selected states who provide support to grandparents with full-time caring responsibility for their grandchildren.
If you or your partner is a grandparent carer and not receiving one of the above income support payments, the full cost of the approved child care fees is not covered. However, to assist with the cost of child care, the Work, Training, Study test is waived for grandparents who have claimed and are eligible for Child Care Benefit for their grandchild. This means you can receive up to 50 hours of Child Care Benefit per child per week, and be automatically assessed as eligible for Child Care Rebate. The income test will continue to apply to your rate of Child Care Benefit.
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 service, for:
- children who are at risk of serious abuse or neglect, where that risk would be reduced if they 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 new circumstances; for example, serious short-term illness, hospitalisation or short-term carer responsibilities
Your child care service 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, we need to assess your application. Speak to your child care service 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
The number of hours for which you can receive Child Care Benefit depends on whether you and your partner meet the Work, Training, Study test.
Absences and Child Care Benefit
Your benefit may still be paid if you are charged for child care when your child is absent.
These absence rules also apply to Child Care Rebate and 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. This includes absences from all approved child care services your child attends except for occasional care. These absence days can be taken for any reason and no evidence is required.
You can also be paid for additional absences beyond the 42 days for certain reasons. There is no limit on these days, but supporting documentation may be required. Talk to your child care service about additional absence information and any supporting document requirements.
You will not be paid Child Care Benefit, Child Care Rebate and JET Child Care Fee Assistance for absences if your child uses more than 42 absence days for the financial year and does not meet the conditions for additional absences.
For occasional child care, there is no limit on the number of absences if the child care has been paid for.
There is no absence limit for registered care, providing eligibility requirements continue to be met for any period of absence, and the care has been paid for.
Child Care Rebate when eligible for Child Care Benefit
Child Care Rebate helps parents and guardians who meet the rebate’s Work, Training, Study test with out of pocket expenses for approved care for Child Care Benefit.
You will automatically be assessed for Child Care Rebate when you submit a claim for Child Care Benefit for approved care.
Read more about Child Care Rebate.
Other benefits while receiving Child Care Benefit
If you qualify for Child Care Benefit, you may like to read more about:
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
Do your Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support business using self service options, including our Express Plus mobile apps, online accounts and phone self service.
Change of circumstances while receiving Child Care Benefit
You need to tell us if your circumstances change when you are receiving Child Care Benefit. For example, if:
- your care arrangements change
- your 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
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.
You don’t need to tell us if:
- you change the child care service that your child attends, providing they are still attending a Child Care Benefit approved child care service. You will need to provide the new child care service with your and your child's Customer Reference Numbers
- the hours they attend child care changes, or
- your child stops attending care, if you intend to send your child to child care again in the future
Your family income estimate
Your family income estimate is used to work out how much family assistance you get. It is important to give us the most accurate family income estimate you can.
Payment choices to reduce your risk of overpayment of Child Care Benefit for approved care
There are payment choices available to help you reduce your risk of being overpaid Child Care Benefit for approved care.
Balancing your family assistance and child care payments
At the start of each financial year, we will ask you to estimate your family income so that we can work out how much Child Care Benefit for approved care to pay you.
Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate while travelling outside Australia
Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate can only be paid for child care provided in Australia.
Someone to deal with us on your behalf
If you want someone else to handle your Centrelink, Child Support or Medicare business you can authorise them to deal with us on your behalf.
What to do if your account is overdrawn
There is support available to help you manage your money if you have overdrawn your bank, building society or credit union account.
The estimator lets you work out child care payments you may get, based on your individual circumstances. You can work out a dollar amount for Child Care Benefit for approved 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 Rate Estimator
Australia's online child care portal
Read more about different types of child care and how to get assistance on the Australian Government's mychild website.
National Quality Framework
This is a national system for the regulation and quality assessment of child care and early learning services.
Read more about the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care on the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority website.
Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority
A regulatory authority in each state and territory regulates and assesses children’s education and care services.
Read more about State and Territory Regulatory Authorities on the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority website.
Select the options that describe your circumstances then explore a suggested list of possible Centrelink and Medicare payments and services online.
Select your state and topics of interest to find links to government and community organisation support.
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