Payment of Child Care Subsidy and COVID-19
Payment of Child Care Subsidy and COVID-19
Many families with children in education and care services have been impacted by COVID-19.
Early childhood services are currently still open as they fall into the category of essential services, however this situation could change at any moment, given fears for the safety of staff and children, and the difficulty of maintaining distances between young children.
Some individual services may have been directed to close by health authorities but for the majority it is business ‘as usual’ despite these extraordinary circumstances.
Despite services staying open, many families are choosing to keep their children home and are concerned about whether this will impact their eligibility and payment of the Child Care Subsidy (CCS). With this in mind we have pulled together the information below from Services Australia, the government agency responsible for delivering payments and services.
Please note that while it is accurate at the time of writing (23 March) the situation is changing rapidly and we would encourage you to visit Services Australia for the latest information.
Child Care Subsidy
If your child can’t attend child care because he/she or you are sick or isolated, or if you choose to keep them away as a precaution, and your service is still open you will continue to receive the CCS.
You can get CCS for up to 42 absences for each child, per financial year. You can use these absence days for any reason. You don’t need to do anything for your CCS to continue and you don’t need to provide any reasons or explanations for the absences.
The 42 days include absences your child’s had or will have this financial year, not only absences because of coronavirus.
In addition to the above, the Australian government has introduced a range of measures to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on families using education and care services.
This includes increasing the number of days that a family can continue to claim the Child Care Subsidy above and beyond the 42 days currently permitted. Families can access the additional absences without providing written evidence, such as a medical certificate.
In addition, gap fees will be waived for families if their child care service is forced to close.
If your hours change
Your hours of activity, such as your work and study, affect how much CCS you can get. Currently, you don’t need to update your activity test for CCS if you or your child need to self isolate or you’re on a period of leave.
If you’re casual or have irregular hours of work, Services Australia will usually ask you to estimate your hours for three months. If your hours have reduced because of COVID-19, there’s no need to change your hours right now.
You may be exempt from the activity test if you’re experiencing exceptional circumstances.
These are assessed on a case-by-case basis and you will need to call the families line to discuss your circumstances.
Additional Child Care Subsidy (ACCS) – Financial hardship
If you use child care, and are in temporary financial hardship because you can’t work, you can apply for ACCS Temporary Financial Hardship. ACCS provides extra help with the cost of approved child care for up to 13 weeks and you can get up to 100 hours of subsidised child care per fortnight.
You’ll need to provide evidence of your reduced ability to pay child care fees, like an email from your employer.
To claim ACCS you must:
- be eligible or already get CCS
- have experienced temporary financial hardship due to an event in the last 6 months
- have a substantially reduced ability to pay child care fees.
Early childhood staff
For parents concerned about the staff in their centre, the good news is early childhood services will continue to receive the CCS, which can be up to 85 per cent of the daily cost of a child’s care, if they are directed to temporarily close, and this can be used to pay staff.
Minister for Education Dan Tehan says this decision will ensure that services forced to close will be able to pay their staff and remain viable so they can re-open when it is safe to do so.
This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Thursday, 01 October 2020
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