Child Care Subsidy

Your activity level affects it

The hours of subsidised care you can get per fortnight depends on the hours of recognised activities you do.

Activity level

Your activity level refers to the hours you spend working or doing other activities that improve your work skills. You can use the hours of subsidised care you’re eligible for in a number of ways. This depends on how your child care provider charges you. Read more about your hours of care.

You’ll be able to access 24 hours of subsidised child care per fortnight if all of these apply: 

  • you’re eligible for Child Care Subsidy
  • your family earns $66,958 or less a year
  • you do less than 8 hours of recognised activities per fortnight

You may be able to access up to 36 hours of subsidised care per fortnight if both of these apply:

  • your child is attending an early education program
  • the program's in a Centre Based Day Care

This only applies to the child attending the program. If you have other children, your usual Child Care Subsidy entitlement will apply.

Talk to your child care service to check if the program is an early education program under Child Care Subsidy.

Hours of activity

We’ll use your activity level to work out the number of hours of subsidised child care you’re entitled to each fortnight. 

If you have a partner we’ll look at both of your activity levels. We’ll use the lower of your or your partner’s activity level to work out your hours of subsidised care.

The hours of subsidised child care you can access per fortnight applies to each child.

Hours of recognised activities each fortnight  Hours of subsidised care each fortnight 
Less than 8 hours 0 hours
More than 8 to 16 hours 36 hours
More than 16 to 48 hours 72 hours
More than 48 hours 100 hours

Recognised activities

Recognised activities can include any of the following:

  • paid work including being self employed
  • paid or unpaid leave, including paid or unpaid parental or maternity leave
  • unpaid work in a family business
  • unpaid work experience or unpaid internship
  • actively setting up a business

They can also include any of these:

  • doing an approved course of education or study
  • doing training to improve work skills or employment prospects
  • actively looking for work
  • volunteering
  • other activities on a case by case basis

We’ll only recognise some of these activities for a certain amount of time. We’ll only count:

  • periods of unpaid leave for up to 6 months – this doesn’t apply to unpaid parental leave
  • setting up a business for 6 months out of every 12 months

You can access up to 36 hours of subsidised child care per fortnight if your only activity is 1 of these:

  • volunteering
  • actively looking for work

Parental or maternity leave

We’ll count any paid or unpaid parental and maternity leave you take. We’ll continue to count this as long as you’re expected to return to work after the leave. When including this as a recognised activity you should give us the hours you worked before you started your leave.

Other activities

If you’re getting Carer Allowance you’ll be able to access 72 hours of subsidised child care per fortnight.

You can access 36 hours of subsidised care per fortnight if you have mutual obligation requirements. You must also be getting 1 of these payments:

If you have a partner, we’ll look at both of your activity levels. We’ll use the lower of your or your partner’s activity level to work out your subsidised hours. This applies even if one of you gets one of these payments.

Example of when we’ll use the lower activity level

John and Charlie have 2 children that attend child care. John gets Carer Allowance which means he can access 72 hours of subsidised child care each fortnight. Charlie does 15 hours of paid work each fortnight. This means she can access 36 hours of subsidised child care each fortnight.

We use the person with the lower activity level to check their entitlement. This means John and Charlie can access 36 hours of subsidised child care per fortnight for each of their children.

Multiple activities

If you do more than 1 recognised activity, you can combine the hours you spend doing each activity. This may increase the hours of subsidised care you’re entitled to.

Example of combining hours

Oliver is a single parent working 40 hours a fortnight. He spends another 10 hours a fortnight doing unpaid work in his family’s business. Oliver can combine the hours he spends each fortnight doing these 2 different recognised activities.

Oliver does 50 hours of recognised activity per fortnight. This means he can access up to 100 hours of subsidised child care for each child per fortnight.

Exemptions

You may be exempt from the activity test and can access 100 hours of subsidised care per fortnight. This applies if you meet 1 of the following:

  • are temporarily outside Australia for up to a maximum of 6 weeks
  • have disability or impairment that impacts your ability to work
  • are getting Carer Payment
  • provide constant care for a child or adult with disability or medical condition
  • are in prison or psychiatric confinement

If you have a partner, we’ll look at both of your activity levels. We’ll use the lower of your or your partner’s activity level to work out your hours of subsidised care. This applies even if 1 of you has an exemption.

Grandparents

You’ll be exempt if you or your partner are the principal carer of a grandchild or great grandchild. The exemption will only apply to that child. This means you can get 100 hours of subsidised care per fortnight for your grandchild or great-grandchild. You won’t be exempt for any other children in your care. The hours of subsidised care you can access for them will depend on your activity level.

Exceptional circumstances

You’ll be exempt if you’re facing circumstances that impact your ability to do recognised activities or care for your child. 

For example, you may be exempt if you’re:

We assess all exceptional circumstances on a case by case basis. Please call the Families line to discuss your circumstances.

Example of working out activity level when 1 person is exempt and their partner isn’t

Julia gets Carer Payment. This means she’s exempt and can access 100 hours of subsidised child care per fortnight. Julia’s husband, Thomas, doesn’t have an exemption. He works for 15 hours a fortnight. This means he can access 36 hours of subsidised child care.

We use the person with the lower activity level to determine the hours they’re entitled to . This means Julia and Thomas can access 36 hours of subsidised child care per fortnight.

Casual or irregular hours of work

If your work hours change each fortnight, you need to give us an estimate of your hours. Estimates should be the highest number of hours you expect to work in a fortnight over the next 3 months. You can  update this estimate at any time.

Example of giving an estimate for irregular work hours

Suzie is a single parent working at a supermarket. Her work hours vary from 15 to 45 hours per fortnight. Suzie should declare the highest number of hours she expects to work within a fortnight over a 3 month period. In Suzie’s case this would be 45 hours per fortnight.

This means Suzie can access 72 hours of subsidised child care per fortnight.

Travel time

You can include reasonable time taken to travel between your child care service and the location of your recognised activity. This could include your place of work, training, study or other activity.

Example of including travel time in the hours of recognised activity

Peter’s work is a 30 minute drive from his child care service. The time it takes him to get to work and back to the child care service is reasonable travel time. His child isn't in his care during this time, so Peter can add 1 hour to his activity level.

Hours of care

You can use the hours of subsidised care you’re eligible for in a number of different ways. This depends on how your child care provider charges you.

Example of using subsidised hours for a child care provider charging a daily fee

Tom is eligible for 24 hours of subsidised care per fortnight. His child care provider charges a daily fee for a 12 hour session. If Tom sends his child for 7 hours each day, his provider will still charge him for 12 hours. This means we’ll subsidise 2 days of child care per fortnight. Once he exceeds the 24 hours we won’t subsidise any extra hours. 

Example of using subsidised hours for a child care provider charging an hourly fee

Trish is eligible for 24 hours of subsidised care per fortnight. Her child care provider charges an hourly fee. This means her provider charges her for the hours her child is in care. If Trish sends her child for 4 hours 1 day, she’ll still have another 20 hours she can use. She can use this across a number of days in the fortnight. Once she exceeds the 24 hours we won’t subsidise any extra hours.

Example of using subsidised hours for an early education program

Sam doesn’t meet the activity test. However, 1 of her children goes to Centre Based Day Care 3 days a week. On 2 of the days, her child goes to an early education program for 6 hours each day. We’ll subsidise all 12 hours of the program each week. We won’t subsidise the third day where her child doesn’t attend the program. This is because Sam doesn’t do enough recognised activity to get Child Care Subsidy.

Page last updated: 4 October 2018