All you need to know about the In Home Care program

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  Published on Wednesday, 15 August 2018

All you need to know about the In Home Care program

Library Home  >  Nanny, Au Pairs & In Home Care
  Published on Wednesday, 15 August 2018
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The New Child Care Package has implemented sweeping child care reforms, and its effect hasn't just been felt in day care centres and preschools. Families using home-based care are also impacted by the Government's fresh take on child care, and the In Home Care (IHC) program represents a complete move away from the old IHC program and Nanny Pilot Programme.

The new approach to IHC supports family's workforce participation and strives to deliver flexible, affordable and quality early childhood education and care to those who need it most. Let's look at this IHC program in more detail.

What is In Home Care?

IHC is an approved child care service created under the Government's New Child Care Package. It is available to eligible families and involves the delivery of subsidised early childhood education and care in the family home.

The care must be provided by qualified educators (not a family member) and shouldn't be confused with home-schooling, distance education or household chores, such as those undertaken by an au pair.

As there is a focus on the provision of consistent, high quality early childhood education and care under the revamped IHC program:

  • Educators must hold at least a Certificate III qualification in a relevant course, or be working towards one (and provide documentary evidence)
  • The child to educator ratio has been capped at a maximum of five children to one educator, or four for preschool age and under
  • According to the Department of Education, Skills and Employment, each IHC service must deliver, 'A tailored, individual education program based on each child's knowledge, ideas, culture, abilities and interests.'

Who is eligible for the In Home Care program?

The goal of the IHC program is to provide home-based care to families who don't have access to other mainstream child care options (centre-based day care, family day care or outside school hours care).

This means that to receive Government-subsidised care in their home, families must be:

  1. Be parents/carers working variable or non-standard hours, outside normal child care service hours
  2. Be geographically isolated from other care (e.g. living in a rural or remote area)
  3. Have complex or challenging needs that can’t be met by other approved child care services

It's the role of IHC Support Agencies to determine each family's eligibility for an IHC place, and famiiles need to contact their local Agency to start the process.

How do In Home Care Support Agencies work with families?

As part of the new system, the Government has introduced IHC Support Agencies in each State and Territory, and it's their job to consistently and fairly match families with Child Care Subsidy approved services.

Together, the Agencies have up to 3,200 IHC places to distribute across Australia and, as their name suggests, these Agencies support families to find the care that suits them best.

To do this, they work together to create a Family Management Plan that documents the family's needs and expectations. This Plan (which is reviewed quarterly) is agreed upon by the Agency and family and can also be shared with the IHC service and educator.

When it comes to tasks like engaging qualified educators, inspecting homes and monitoring service delivery, though, responsibility shifts from the Agency to the family's IHC service.

How much does the Government pay towards In Home Care?

The Child Care Subsidy for IHC is means tested and the Government will pay up to 85 per cent of the actual fee charged, or 85 per cent of the family hourly rate cap, whichever is lower. At present, the hourly rate cap is $33.17 per family (not per child), and families pay the gap.

There is also the question of how many subsidised hours a family is entitled to, and the Child Care Subsidy activity test is used to work this out, capped at 100 hours per fortnight.

All in all, the new IHC program supports families financially and logistically. And by putting an emphasis on quality, consistency and fairness, it helps to ensure that more youngsters get a great start.

This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Wednesday, 16 September 2020

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