An overview of in home care

Published on Monday, 05 December 2016
Last updated on Wednesday, 08 December 2021

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In Home Care (IHC) is a flexible form of child care which enables families that work non-standard hours, are geographically isolated, or have complex and challenging needs, to access government-subsidised child care in their own home. 

The IHC program provides up to 3,200 places for eligible families who can't access standard centre-based day care, family day care and outside school hours care because of their unique circumstances. 

IHC is targeted at families who need this type of care the most, and the program helps parents participate in work, while their children receive quality early childhood education and care (ECEC) back at home.

Below, we look at IHC in more detail, and if you'd like to see how IHC varies from the other forms of child care currently available to families, have a look at our child care comparison table.

How does In Home Care work?

IHC is an approved child care service type that's part of the government's child care package.

It's delivered through a network of IHC Support Agencies around Australia, and these Agencies assess families' eligibility for IHC, allocate places and match families to suitable and available IHC services.

These IHC services engage and approve qualified IHC educators to deliver ECEC in the family home, based on a Family Management Plan that's agreed on by the IHC Support Agency and family (and reviewed at least four times a year).

IHC educators can care for up to five children (or four preschool-aged or under children) from one family; and they provide an ECEC program that's tailored to each child's abilities, interests, culture, knowledge and ideas.

Educators aim to give children a similar experience to what they would receive in other forms of care. This means children will have the opportunity to participate in supervised activities that they might not be able to do ordinarily, such as arts and crafts, games and outdoor play.

Is my family eligible for subsidised care under the In Home Care program?

No more than 3,200 IHC places are on offer at any one time, and there are particular eligibility criteria to make sure these places go to the families that need them most.

Subsidised IHC can only be provided to:

  • Children of individuals eligible for the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) who can show that other types of approved child care are not available or appropriate. 

Families must also meet at least one of these eligibility criteria:

  • The parents or carers of the child are working non-standard or variable hours, outside of normal child care service hours.
  • The parents or carers are geographically isolated from other types of approved child care, including because they live in a rural or remote location.
  • The family has challenging or complex needs, such as a parent who's being treated for a serious illness, or a child with a disability whose ECEC needs can't be catered for in another approved child care setting or government-funded/community-based service.

How can my family access In Home Care?

If you are interested in IHC and think your family might be eligible for a place, then you should contact the IHC Support Agency in your state or territory.

They'll assess your eligibility against the eligibility criteria and allocate an IHC place if you are eligible. They should also be able to advise you how the care arrangement will be managed once you have lodged your application.

The contact details for the IHC Support Agencies are as follows:

State/Territory Email Phone
Australian Capital Territory 1800 940 906
New South Wales 1800 IHCARE (1800 442 273)
South Australia 1800 IHCARE (1800 442 273)
Victoria 1800 993 737
Queensland 1800 993 737
Western Australia 1300 164 202
Northern Territory inhomecaresupportagencynt@wanslea.asnau 1300 164 202
Tasmania 1300 052 057


How much In Home Care does the government pay for?

Your family's level of CCS for IHC is determined by:

Depending on your family income, the government will pay up to 85 per cent of the actual child care fee charged, or 85 per cent of the family hourly rate cap, whichever is lower.

In 2020-2021, the hourly rate cap for In Home Care is $33.17 per family (not per child).

The CCS activity test determines how many hours of subsidised care you're eligible for, and this is capped at 100 hours of care per child, per fortnight.

Families accessing IHC might be eligible for the Additional Child Care Subsidy (ACCS), on top of the CCS. The ACCS provides vulnerable or disadvantaged families with extra help paying for child care.

It's possible for a child with additional needs to receive National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) support and for their family to access IHC, provided they meet the IHC eligibility criteria.

How much does In Home Care cost?

As with all other child care services, the cost of IHC will vary according to who is providing the service, which state or territory you are in and how often you access the service, so you will need to contact your local provider for exact pricing.

For a general overview of what you can expect to pay for child care check out our article on the cost of child care.

To learn more about IHC, head to the Department of Education, Skills and Employment IHC page, where there are links to the IHC National Guidelines and IHC Handbook.


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