Why you need a Customer Reference Number for child care & how to get one

Library Home  >  Government Policy & Quality StandardsParenting & Family Life
  Published on Wednesday, 06 November 2019

Why you need a Customer Reference Number for child care & how to get one

Library Home  >  Government Policy & Quality StandardsParenting & Family Life
  Published on Wednesday, 06 November 2019
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If your child is starting in an early education and care service in 2020, now is the time to get some administrative affairs in order. You’ll need to enrol in a quality child care service, settling on a start date and ongoing days, ensure your child is up-to-date with their vaccinations, and also consider fees.

The government helps many families with the cost of child care, but before you receive any assistance, you must establish whether you're eligible for the Child Care Subsidy, and if so, make a claim.

A Centrelink Customer Reference Number (CRN) is needed to enrol in a child care service and receive the Child Care Subsidy, so let’s look at what a CRN entails.

What is a CRN and when is it required?

Made up of nine numbers and one letter (e.g. 123 456 789X) a CRN is an alphanumeric string generated by Centrelink and used to identify your personal record.

It's required whenever you deal with Centrelink, so you’ll need to have your CRN on hand when:

  • Enrolling your child in an approved child care service
  • Setting up your Centrelink online account through myGov;
  • Applying for payments and services
  • Recording or updating your information

How do you get a CRN?

Centrelink says, 'Most people get a CRN when they claim their first payment or register their details with us.' This means that if you've ever received a Centrelink payment or used a Centrelink service, you'll probably have a CRN already.

You can find it on any correspondence that Centrelink has sent through or on your concession card, but if you're having trouble locating your CRN, just call the Centrelink Families line on 136 150 (weekdays from 8am to 8pm).

If you haven't received a payment and don't have a CRN, then you'll need to visit a Centrelink service centre, confirm your identity and staff will create a CRN for you.

Does your child need their own CRN?

Yes. When you enrol your child at an approved child care service, you need to provide the service with your CRN and birthdate, along with your child's CRN and birthdate.

Keep in mind too, that each child needs their own CRN, so if you have two children going to care, they need two individual CRNs.

How do you get a CRN for your child?

Your child will already have a CRN if you've made a claim for them previously (e.g. you claimed Paid Parental Leave when they were born).

If your child hasn't been assigned a CRN yet, then all you need to do is make a new claim for the Child Care Subsidy. This claim will generate a CRN, and after assessment, Centrelink will send out a letter confirming your family's eligibility for the Subsidy and your child's freshly-assigned CRN.

Just remember that if your child doesn't currently have a CRN, you'll need to apply for the Subsidy and receive your child's CRN before they start at child care.

If neither you nor your child have a CRN, then these can be created at the same time by visiting a Centrelink service and confirming both your identities.

Going forward, you can check your child's CRN by logging into your Centrelink online account, via myGov, then clicking on 'My Family'.

What is a CAN?

CAN stands for 'Customer Access Number'. This is usually the same as your CRN and it's also used to recognise your personal record.

Sometimes people do have different CRN and CAN numbers (this can happen if you claim online), and in this case, the government advises that you:

  • Use the CRN when speaking with staff at a Centrelink service centre, and
  • Use the CAN when calling a payment line or using self-service.

Both you and your child need a CRN before entering the exciting world of subsidised child care. This long-ish number can unlock more affordable fees, so if you haven’t found a quality early learning service yet or applied for the Child Care Subsidy, now is the time to do so!

Further reading and references

Your end of year checklist
Centrelink Customer Reference Number
Details you need to give your child care service

This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Monday, 30 December 2019

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