Three Clauses in the Child Care Subsidy Are Catching Parents Out – Could You Be Affected?

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Three clauses in the Child Care Subsidy Are Catching Parents Out – Could You Be Affected?

The new Childcare Subsidy (CCS) has been in operation for almost a year now, and apart from a few implementation hiccups, and long approval timeframes, we have all adjusted to the new system.

The CCS replaced the Childcare Rebate and Childcare Benefit from July last year, and there certainly were a few issues to start with. Some of these issues are still ongoing for both child care centres and parents, but overall the kinks seem to have been ironed out with time.

Mums of Brisbane has written about the new CCS extensively and Katie, our founder, has also talked in local and national media about it too, including on The Today Show, 7News and The Courier-Mail.

RELATED: FOR FULL DETAILS ABOUT CSS CLICK HERE 

So we thought we were pretty across all of the T&Cs of the CCS, after all, we’ve spent countless hours pouring over the ins and outs of the new subsidy.

But recently, we’ve discovered a few clauses within CCS that even we weren’t aware of, and some that have the potential to impact parents financially if they aren’t careful.

The Clauses Catching Parents Out

There are three similar but different clauses (or conditions) that are catching parents out. The first that most parents know about these conditions is when their subsidy is cut and they are paying full fees.

The three clauses are:

  • If your child doesn’t attend for 8 consecutive weeks their enrolment through Centrelink is cancelled and full fees will need to be paid.
  • If there are over 42 absences from the service for any reason in a financial year (INCLUDING PUBLIC HOLIDAYS) further absences will not get CCS
  • If your child doesn’t attend their first or last day (or days) of enrollment, no CCS will be payable for those days, so you will be charged full fees (this one is the most likely to impact a majority of families)

Let’s break these down here:

Non Attendance for 8 weeks – Enrollment Cancelled

child-care-subsidy-clauses

This from the Centrelink Website:

If your child has not attended child care for 8 continuous weeks, we’ll cancel your enrolment details in our system. Read about what you need to do if we cancel your enrolment details.

Your enrolment details will end if your child either:

  • stops attending the child care service
  • has not attended child care for 8 continuous weeks.

If your enrolment ends, we’ll stop paying your subsidy and the enrolment will display in your online account as ‘ceased’.

If your child attends the service again in the future, you’ll need to re-establish the care arrangement. The childcare service will need to submit new enrolment details which you can confirm online.

Its important to note that this does not mean the centre itself unenrolls your child, they will continue to have a place (If that’s the agreement you have). It is simply that Centrelink considers the enrollment via them has ceased (remember how you had to confirm the enrollment with them originally), and will no longer pay a subsidy to the centre, who will pass on full fees.

If there are over 42 absences from the service for any reason in a financial year (INCLUDING PUBLIC HOLIDAYS) further absences will not get CCS

child-care-subsidy-clauses

This from the Centrelink Website:

We pay this subsidy for up to 42 absences for each child, per financial year. You can use these absence days for any reason, including if the child is overseas. We don’t need evidence.

Absence days are the days you would normally get CCS. This includes public holidays. You can only use an absence day after your child has physically attended the service for the first time (see more info on this one below).

In special circumstances, you may get CCS for more than 42 absence days. Talk to your childcare service about this. You may need to provide supporting documents.

*Local Mums have said that if you do reach 42 days of absences, you need to produce a medical certificate for each absence to continue to get CSS for those days. But to confirm if this is true you should check with your centre or call Centrelink.*

If your child doesn’t attend their first or last day (or days) of enrollment, no CCS will be payable for those days, so you will be charged full fees.

This means you will be charged full fees for any days before your child starts attendance and any days after their last attendance if the enrollment is ceasing.

This condition has the likelihood to affect most parents.

This is what’s on the Centerlink website:

We won’t pay CCS for any days your child hasn’t yet physically attended the service for the first time for the current enrolment period.

Example 1 – when the child has not yet attended the service

Lucy’s child is starting primary school on Monday 4 February. Lucy enrols her child in before school care starting the same day. Lucy decides she’ll take her child to school on Monday then start using before school care from Tuesday 5 February. The childcare service still charges Lucy for Monday even though her child did not physically attend. Lucy has to pay the full fee for that day. Lucy’s child physically attends before school care for the first time on Tuesday. This means we’ll start paying CCS from Tuesday.

Example 2 – when the child has not yet attended the service

There’s a vacancy at Tim’s local daycare centre for 1 day a week from 17 December. Tim doesn’t want to miss out on the place so he accepts it. Tim doesn’t intend for his child to start until January. Tim’s child physically attends daycare for the first time on 7 January. Tim may have to pay the full fees from 17 December until 6 January if required by the child care service. We’ll pay CCS from 7 January as this is the first day his child attends.

If your child’s enrolment ends

If your enrolment ends we won’t pay CCS for any days after your child’s last physical attendance. You’ll need to pay full fees for any absence days after the last day your child physically attends the service.

Example 1 – when the child stops attending the service before their enrolment ends

Ivana’s enrolled her child in daycare until 12 April. Ivana lets the child care service know that she’s moving and her child’s last day will be on 29 March. The childcare service tells Ivana she must continue to pay fees for the days she originally had booked. This is until 12 April. Ivana’s child physically attends daycare for the last time on 29 March. We won’t pay CCS after this date. Ivana has to pay the full fees after 29 March until 12 April.

Example 2 – when the child doesn’t attend on the last day of their enrolment

Brad enrolled his child in daycare until the end of the year. Brad’s child will attend the same daycare next year but under a new enrolment. The last day of care under the current enrolment is 20 December. Brad’s child physically attends for the last time on 19 December. Brad may still have to pay fees for 20 December if required by the child care service. We won’t pay CCS for 20 December.

It’s important to note if the enrollment will be continuing (especially over the Christmas/New Year period) this will not impact you. It’s only if your child’s enrollment is ceasing (say a kindy kid in long day care moving to prep) then attendance on their last enrolled day is essential.

HINT: if you plan to go away before your child’s last enrolled day you might need to talk to your centre about ceasing your enrollment earlier (be aware of any notice periods you need to give too).

You can read about all of these and get more in-depth information on the Centrelink Website here

If you are concerned or have further questions, talk to your children’s child care provider or contact Centrelink directly. Remember that a lot of childcare centres are also still adjusting to the new system.

You can call Centrelink on 136 150

Have you been caught out by any of these clauses? Tell us about your experience in the comments.

READ MORE: ELEVEN THINGS I LEARNT AFTER HAVING FOUR KIDS

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Katie -

Author

Katie is the Managing Director and Editor of Mums of Brisbane. Most days will find her drinking copious amounts of coffee, cuddling her kids and trying not to step barefoot on lego. Katie lives in Beautiful Brisbane with her husband and four gorgeous children.

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