How much does child care cost?
The cost of child care for your family depends on:
- what type of child care you use
- how many days or hours a week your child needs care
- how many children you have in care
- whether you can get government assistance with child care costs.
Child care costs can vary across services. For example, costs might depend on whether services:
- charge fees for days children are away
- charge fees and are closed for public holidays
- supply things like meals and nappies.
Finding out about child care costs
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 assistance, your child care costs could be much lower than the fees you’re quoted.
Types of government assistance with child care costs
Depending on your situation, you might be able to get one or both of these forms of Australian Government assistance with child care costs:
- Child Care Subsidy
- Additional Child Care Subsidy.
Child Care Subsidy
If you’re eligible, the Australian Government pays the Child Care Subsidy directly to your approved child care service to reduce the fees you pay.
Approved child care services
The following types of services are approved by the Australian Government. You must use one of these types of services to get the Child Care Subsidy:
- centre-based day care, including long day care and occasional day care
- family day care
- outside school hours care including vacation care
- in-home care.
The Australian Government pays different maximum hourly rates to these different types of approved services. You also have to meet some extra conditions to get payments for in-home care fees.
Who can get the Child Care Subsidy?
You can get the Child Care Subsidy if you are:
- responsible for paying child care costs for a child for whom you care at least 2 nights a fortnight, or 14% of the time
- an Australian resident, or your partner is (there are some exemptions).
Your child must be:
- immunised or catching up with immunisations (there are some exemptions)
- not attending secondary school, unless you can prove your child needs supervision.
If your child attends secondary school, you might be able to claim the Child Care Subsidy if your child is under 13 years or your child is 14-18 years and has a disability.
You can get the Child Care Subsidy if you’re a parent, step-parent, foster parent, grandparent or kinship carer.
How much Child Care Subsidy can you get?
The amount of subsidy you can get depends on:
- the type of child care you use
- your child’s age
- the number of children you have under 5 years in child care
- your family’s income
- the things you and your partner do while your child is in care – for example, how long each of you spends working, looking for work or studying.
If you’re not sure about how the Australian Government can help your family with child care costs, you can call the Department of Human Services on 136 150. You can also visit Services Australia – Accessing child care or use the Centrelink Payment and Service Finder.
Additional Child Care Subsidy
The Additional Child Care Subsidy provides extra help with child care costs for some carers who can also get the Child Care Subsidy.
You can get the Additional Child Care Subsidy if you’re a grandparent or great-grandparent with at least 65% care of your grandchildren. If you’re a step-grandparent or grandparent of adopted children, you’re also eligible. You must also be getting income support like the Age Pension.
Transitioning to work
You can get the Additional Child Care Subsidy if your family income is below a certain amount and you’re also studying, looking for a job, working or training. Under most circumstances, you must have a job or job plan. You must also be getting one of these payments:
- Parenting Payment
- Newstart Allowance
- Disability Support Pension
- Youth Allowance
- Carer Payment
- Special Benefit (in certain circumstances)
- Farm Household Allowance
- a means-tested ABSTUDY payment.
Temporary financial hardship
If something happens in your family that makes it harder to pay child care fees, you might be able to get the Additional Child Care Subsidy. The event must have happened in the last 6 months and can include:
- job loss
- severe damage to your home
- family violence that means you have to leave your home
- financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Children who are vulnerable or at risk of harm, abuse or neglect might be eligible for the Additional Child Care Subsidy. Children who are in foster care and formal kinship care are also eligible. In this situation, child care providers are responsible for applying for this payment on behalf of families.