Child Care Benefit

A payment to help with the cost of day care, outside school hours care, vacation care, pre-school and kindergarten.

Eligibility basics

  • use approved or registered child care
  • are responsible for paying the child care fees
  • immunise your child
There will be changes to child care assistance from 2 July 2018. Read more about the New child care package on the Department of Education and Training website.

Eligibility & payment rates

Eligibility

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, and
  • 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 to income
  • 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 stops using care
  • you or your partner no longer meeting the Work, Training, Study test, and
  • your work, training or study related commitments

Approved care

Approved child care services have Australian Government approval to pass on Child Care Benefit as a reduction in 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, and
  • occasional care

It doesn't 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 Child Care Benefit:

  • 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 meet an exception 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. This site also provides information about Child Care Benefit approved child care services all over Australia.

Details you need to give your approved child care service

When you enrol your child in a Child Care Benefit approved child care service, you'll need to provide them with information to identify your family.

Read more about details you need to give

Registered care

Registered child care is 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 doesn't 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 meet an exception to that requirement

Payment rates

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 2017-18 are a guide only.

Approved care

The current approved care rate for a non-school aged child is $4.30 per child per hour, or $215.00 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. 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 an exception 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're a grandparent with primary care of a grandchild or if your family has special circumstances. Grandparent Child Care Benefit and Special Child Care Benefit have additional eligibility requirements.

Use Payment and Service Finder to calculate how much Child Care Benefit you may be entitled to.

Registered care

The current registered care rate for a non-school aged child in up to 50 hours of care per week is $0.719 per child per hour, or $35.95 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

You can choose how your Child Care Benefit is paid.

Read more about payment options for Child Care Benefit

Primary school levels

Child Care Benefit isn't paid for care provided for schooling once your child starts 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
Queensland Preparatory Years 1–6 Kindergarten/Preschool
South Australia Reception Years 1–7 Kindergarten
Tasmania Preparatory Years 1–6 Kindergarten
Victoria Preparatory Years 1–6 Kindergarten/Preschool
Western Australia Pre-primary Years 1–6 Kindergarten

Income test

Depending on the type of care your child is in, you might need to meet an income test.

Approved care

To receive Child Care Benefit for approved care, you need to be eligible and meet an income test. You don't 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'll work out your fee reduction based on your annual family income estimate.

You need to tell us about any changes to your income throughout 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 your family income estimate using your Centrelink online account through myGov.

The maximum rate is payable for families with an actual annual family income of less than $45,114. The maximum rate is also payable for families receiving income support.

You won't 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
1 $156,914
2 $162,633
3 or more $183,655 plus $34,724 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.

Registered care

To qualify for Child Care Benefit for registered care, you don't have to meet an income or assets test.

Registered carers

Becoming a registered carer allows eligible families to claim Child Care Benefit for the child care you provide.

Read more about how to become a registered carer

Adjusted taxable income

Your adjusted taxable income will be used to assess your eligibility for some payments, supplements, support and benefits.

Read more about adjusted taxable income

Immunisation requirements

To get Family Tax Benefit (FTB) Part A supplement and Child Care Benefit your child must meet immunisation requirements.

Read more about immunising your children

Residence rules

To get Child Care Benefit you or your partner must be living in Australia and either:

  • have Australian citizenship
  • hold a permanent visa
  • hold a Special Category visa, or
  • hold a certain temporary visa type, for example, a Partner Provisional or Temporary Protection visa

    You may also meet the residence rules for Child Care Benefit if:

  • you or your partner are a student from overseas, sponsored by the Australian Government to study in Australia, or
  • you are in hardship, or special circumstances exist

To keep getting Child Care Benefit

You or your partner must continue to meet the residence rules for as long as you get this payment.

Grandparent Child Care Benefit

If you're 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 care for up to 50 hours per child per week. It's paid directly to your child care service.

You may be able to get this benefit if you or your partner:

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.

If you or your partner is a grandparent with primary care of a grandchild and not receiving one of the above income support payments, the full cost of the approved child care fees isn't covered. However, your family will meet an exception to the requirements of the Work, Training, Study test. 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.

If you need help, we have Grandparent Advisers who provide support to grandparents with full time caring responsibility for their grandchildren.

Special Child Care Benefit

To get Special Child Care Benefit, you must first claim and be eligible for 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, or
  • 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.

Work, Training, Study test

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.

Read more about the Work, Training, Study test for Child Care Benefit

Absences and Child Care Benefit

Your benefit may still be paid if you're charged for child care when your child is absent.

Approved care

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.

If your child is absent for any days for which you normally wouldn’t have been paid Child Care Benefit or Child Care Rebate:

  • you won’t be eligible for any child care payments for those days, and
  • the days won’t be included in your child’s absence count for the year

For example, if your child care service requires you to give 2 weeks’ notice that your child will no longer attend their service, and your child attends the first week of the notice period and not the second week, you may still be charged fees for the second week but won’t be eligible for child care payments.

A public holiday is counted as an absence if the child normally attends the child care service on that week day, and fees are charged for that day for the child.

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 won't 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 doesn't meet the conditions for additional absences.

For occasional care, there's no limit on the number of absences if the child care has been paid for.

You can access your child's absence record or view their child care attendance online statement for approved care using your Centrelink online account through myGov.

Registered care

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. It reduces out of pocket expenses for approved child care.

When you submit a claim for Child Care Benefit for approved care, we'll automatically assess you for Child Care Rebate.

Read more about Child Care Rebate.

Changes to child care payments

Child care payments will change from 2 July 2018. We will let you know when you need to do something.

Read more about changes to child care payments

Claiming

Once you've read about eligibility the next steps are:

  1. choose the type of child care for which you are claiming
  2. choose your claiming option
  3. provide supporting documents
  4. submit your claim for each child

We will assess your claim and let you know the outcome.

Next

Managing your payment

Try self service

Do your Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support business using self service options, including our Express Plus mobile apps, online accounts and phone self service.

Read more about using self service.

Change of circumstances

You need to tell us if your circumstances change when you're receiving Child Care Benefit.

Read more about reporting your change of circumstances

Online estimators

The online estimators let you estimate or compare payments, based on your current or proposed circumstances.

Read more about online estimators

Payment choices to reduce your risk of overpayment

Payment choices help reduce the risk of overpayment of Child Care Benefit for approved care.

Read more about these payment choices

Balancing your family assistance payments

We compare your income estimate with your actual income at the end of each financial year. This is to make sure we pay you the correct amount of Family Tax Benefit or Child Care Benefit.

Read more about balancing your family assistance payments

Balancing your child care payments

At the start of each financial year, we ask you to estimate your family income so that we can work out how much Child Care Benefit for approved care to pay you.

Read more about balancing your child care payments

While travelling outside Australia

There are rules about how long your child care payments can be paid while you or your dependent children travel outside Australia.

Read more about payments while travelling outside Australia

Someone to deal with us on your behalf

If you want someone else to deal with us, you can authorise them to enquire, act or get payments for you.

Read more about someone to deal with us on your behalf

My bank account is overdrawn

You can get help to manage your money if your bank account is overdrawn.

Read more about what to do if your account is overdrawn

Resources

Estimate your child care

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

Child Care compliance

To be eligible for Government fee assistance, all approved child care services must comply with the law.

Read more about Child Care compliance

Australia's online child care portal

The mychild website is 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.

Payment and Service Finder

Find, estimate and compare payments and services you may be eligible for. You can also work out what a change in circumstance might mean for the payments and services you currently receive from us.

Start using Payment and Service Finder

Manage your money

 

We’ve got advice and tools to help you with budgeting, borrowing and credit, and managing debt.

Read about how to manage your money.

Page last updated: 13 September 2017