Child care fees can take a big bite out of family budgets. The Australian Government offers financial assistance to reduce child care costs – so it’s worth seeing what your family can get.
Factors that influence child care costs
The cost of child care for your family will depend on:
- the type of child care you use
- how many days a week your child needs care
- the reason you use child care – for example, so you can work or study or have time to look after other children
- the number of children you have in care
- whether you can get Child Care Benefit or other child care payments.
The cost of care can also vary between services, depending on whether a service:
- charges fees for days children are away
- charges fees and is closed for public holidays
- supplies things like meals and nappies.
What you might pay
If you’re interested in a child care service, it’s best to contact the service directly to ask about fees.
If you can get government child care assistance, your child care costs could be much lower than the fees you’re quoted.
Depending on your situation, you might be able to get one or more of the kinds of government child care assistance listed below.
Child care terminology
In the information below, we use the terms ‘Child Care Benefit approved child care’ and ‘registered child care’.
Child Care Benefit (CCB) approved child care includes long day care, family day care, in-home care, occasional day care, outside school hours care and vacation care.
Registered care includes care provided by people registered with the Department of Human Services, including grandparents, relatives, friends or nannies. In some cases, it includes carers and teachers at private schools and preschools or kindergartens.
Child Care Benefit (CCB)
Child Care Benefit (CCB) helps cover the cost of CCB-approved child care and registered child care.
To get CCB, you or your partner must be an Australian resident (there are some exemptions). How much CCB you can get depends on your income, which the government will check.
You can claim CCB for up to 24 hours of CCB-approved care per week per child. You can claim for up to 50 hours per week per child if both you and your child’s other parent meet (or are exempt from) the ‘work, training, study’ test for CCB.
If you’re a grandparent with primary care of your grandchildren, you can claim for up to 50 hours per week per child. If you’re a grandparent on an eligible income support payment, you might get Grandparent CCB. This is a higher rate of CCB, which covers the full cost of child care up to 50 hours per child per week.
To get CCB for children under seven years, your child’s immunisations must be up to date, or you must have an approved exemption.
The person responsible for paying child care costs for a child (for example, parent, foster parent, grandparent or kinship carer) can claim for CCB.
Child Care Rebate (CCR)
Child Care Rebate (CCR) covers 50% of your out-of-pocket expenses (up to the annual limit, known as the ‘cap’, of $7500 per child per year for the 2012-2013 income year) when you claim CCB for CCB-approved child care.
Your out-of-pocket expenses are the cost of the child care minus any CCB or Jobs, Education and Training (JET) Child Care fee assistance you get.
You and your partner must be eligible for CCB, even if you’re assessed at a zero rate because of your income (this means you’re not paid any CCB). You must also meet, or be exempt from, the ‘work, training, study test’ for CCR.
You might be able to get the CCR, regardless of how much you earn.
As the person responsible for paying child care costs, when you claim for CCB you’re automatically assessed for CCR. You don’t have to do two separate applications.
Jobs, Education and Training (JET) Child Care fee assistance
Jobs, Education and Training (JET) Child Care fee assistance helps with the cost of CCB-approved child care. To get JET, you must be getting the maximum amount of CCB.
To get JET, you must also be getting one of the following eligible income support payments:
- Parenting payment
- Partner allowance
- Widow allowance
- Carer payment
- Widow B pension
- Community Development Employment Project Participant Supplement
- a means-tested ABSTUDY payment
- Newstart allowance
- Youth allowance (for job seekers)
- Special benefit (in certain circumstances).
You must also have an Employment Pathway Plan.
JET Child Care fee assistance payments are made directly to the child care service on your behalf.
If you’re not sure about what or how much government child care assistance your family might be able to get, you can call the Department of Human Services on 136 150 or use the Centrelink rate estimator