Carelink, a section of the Department of Human Services for the Australian Government provides support to parents and guardians in the form of a Child Care Benefit. The Child Care Benefit program assists with costs such as long or short termof daycare, after-school care, vacation care, kindergarten and pre-school day care.
How to Apply for the Child Care Benefit
To be approved for the child care benefit you must only be using resources for child care that are on Centrelink’s approved list and you must be responsible for paying the child care fees. This program is not available to parents or caregivers that have not immunized their children.
To be eligible you need to be an Australian resident or meet other residency requirements as defined on the Australian Government Residence descriptions page at http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/enablers/residence-descriptions
There are many factors that can affect the amount dispersed including whether or not your child is starting school, change in income, the leaving of a child from day care, or ineligibility because you no longer meet the requirements of the Work, Training, and Study test. Participation in training or educational commitments might also affect how much of the Child Care Benefit you can receive.
Child Care Benefit Payment Rates
Child Care Benefit rates are adjusted to the cost of living on July 1 of each year. In 2013 the approved care rate for a non-school-aged child for up to fifty hours of care a week was $199.50 per week. The current rate, established in 2013, for a non-school aged child for up to 50 hours of care per week is $33.30 per week.
To receive Child Care Benefits you do need to file a claim and enclose any receipts proving your use of child-care.
Child Care Payment Options
The Child Care Benefit can be paid to you either as a fee reduction or a lump sum.
If you choose to have it paid to you as a fee reduction it is paid directly to your chosen approved childcare provider. The amount of the Child Care Benefit is based on your own estimate of your annual family income. You will have to pay any difference in outstanding fees on your own.
This is also the only way you can claim a Child Care Benefit, as a fee reduction, if you want to be paid the benefits on a weekly or quarterly basis.
If you want to be paid a lump sum you have to pay your child care service provider up front and then after the year is up you can file a claim for a single big payment. You have two years in which to file for the fiscal year in which you are claiming.
Note that you cannot use the lump sum payment from Centrelink as a tax write off.
Things You Need to Know About the Child Care Benefit
To qualify for this stipend you need to take an income test. The amount you can get approved for depends on your annual family income and you must not make more than $145,642 if you have one child, $150,914 if you have two children or $170,404 if you have three or more children.
The benefits you receive are also calculated on your adjusted taxable income. You can find out more about this at http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/enablers/adjusted-taxable-income.
If you are a grandparent left with the primary care of a child then you might be able to get extra help with child care fees as long as you are the biological, adoptive or step grandparent of the child and receive other types of support payment such as the age pension, bereavement allowance or service pension.
Even if your child is not able to go to the facility where he or she is cared for, you may still be able to collect a childcare benefit. A Child Care Benefit can be paid for each child for up to forty-two absences per financial year and you do not have to explain reasons for the absence.
If you are 18 years of age or older you can also apply to be a registered child care provider. To qualify you will be expected to fulfill a Working with Children (WWC) Check. This must be in compliance with the governance of your state. You can find out more information about this at http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/centrelink/child-care-benefit.
You can find out more information in general about the Child Care Benefit by going to http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/centrelink/child-care-benefit.