For parents, childcare can seem like one long nightmare.
From finding something that suits both you and your child, to figuring out what you can afford and what you can claim, it’s a real hassle.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be, and we’re trying to make sure that it isn’t. So, we’ve put together a list of all the childcare options that might be available to you, and all the payments, rebates and benefits you might be able to access to help cover the costs!
Many parents aren’t fully aware of the different care options that are available to them and their children, with most believing that traditional day care is the only way. It’s not! There are lots of different childcare options in Australia, and here are the most common ones.
1. Long Day Care
Sometimes called centre-based care, this is likely to be the childcare that most parents are familiar with. It’s provided by a specific childcare centre in a dedicated building (or part of one). These centres usually run between 7:30 am and 6 pm and offer professional daycare for kids between 0 and 6. This type of care can be available all day or part of the day, and some (but not all) also provide food.
2. Family Day Care
This type of care is more flexible and based from the home. It’s usually a collection of Family Day Care educators who run the centres from their own homes. These care options can be more flexible in their times, which can be better suited to parents. However, to be able to claim benefits they must be an approved provider of Family Day Care.
3. In Home Care
Similar to Family Day Care, this care option is not as widely available is will only suit a small number of parents. It involves a professional carer looking after your child in your own home. It’s suitable for families with children who cannot be cared for by other services for a number of reasons including rural living, disability and more.
4. Outside School House Care
Known by most as After School Care, this option is also available before school, with hours usually between 7:30am – 9am and 3pm – 6pm on both school and pupil free days. These centres run from primary schools, or very close to them, and help parents with work hours that do no coincide with schools. Vacation care is also run from these centres in many cases.
5. Occasional Care
Childcare on a more casual basis, this is suited to families who do not always need care, but have situations arise when neither parent can care for a child. This might be a doctor’s appointment or similar. These centres can also cater for shift workers as they have flexible hours of operation.
No matter how you look at it, childcare fees are expensive, and for many families the cost is much more than their budgets can bear. Luckily the government offers a range of financial assistance to help in covering that cost.
1. Child Care Benefit
This is a payment from the Australian government to help cover the cost of childcare. Parents can receive this as an annual lump sum or in reduced child care fess over the year. This is income tested, and most often paid straight to the child care services to reduce fees that you pay. You can apply for this through Centrelink either online or in person.
2. Child Care Rebate
This is an additional payment to the Child Care Benefit. The rebate helps cover some of the out-of-pocket expenses of childcare and is not income tested. Even if you are not eligible for the Child Care Benefit because of a high income, you may be able to receive the Child Care Rebate. It will cover up to 50% of all expenses up to $7,500 per child, per year.
3. Grandparent Child Care Benefit
This payment is available to you if you’re a grandparent looking after your grandchildren. You must meet the requirements for the Child Care Benefit, be on an income support payment, and be the primary provider of care for your grandchildren including day-to-day decisions about their care, welfare and development. The payment covers the full cost of fees charged, up to 50 hours a week of care for each child.
4. Jobs, Education and Training Child Care Fee Assistance
This assistance gives parents who receive an income support payment a chance to better their skills and job opportunities by giving them additional child care assistance above both the Child Care Benefit and the Child Care Rebate. The payment is available if you’re using an approved child carer to study, work, train or job search.
Obviously this guide can only provide the basics of the somewhat complex childcare fee assistance that is available in Australia. However, on government sites like mychild.gov.au you’ll find all the information you might need, as well as online estimators and search engines for approved care.