Centrelink, a division of the Australian Government Department of Human Services, will cover fifty percent of out of pocket child care expenses or up to a maximum amount allocated per child. This rebate is a supplement to any amount of money that you might already be receiving from Child Care Benefit or Child Care Fee Assistance or Jobs, Education and Training.
Eligibility for the Child Care Rebate
To be eligible for the child care rebate you must use a service approved for the Child Care benefit. You and your partner must also take a “work training study test” or have somehow received an exemption from it. The actual amount that you are eligible for is based on a calculation of half of your pocket expenses. The maximum rebate that a family can receive is based a cost of living index and varies from year to year. For instance, in 2010-11 the maximum rebate a family could get is $7,941 and from 2011 -12 it was $7,500. Assistance is awarded throughout the year and these maximums act as caps on what you receive. Once you hit the cap amount then your payments cease for the rest of the year.
How much you can receive per child per financial year is dependent on how much your out of pocket expenses cost you. Out-of-pocket expense are the total of your child care fees minus the amount of any Child Care Benefits or Jobs Education and Training Child Care Fee Assistance that you might be eligible for or already receiving. In order to find out how much assistance you will receive for the year and to check your rebate balance it is important to log into Centrelink and check the status of your child care rebate account.
How do I apply for Childcare Rebate?
There are a couple of ways to receive your child care rebate. You can have any child day care facility paid directly fortnightly, have it paid to your bank account fortnightly, or have it paid directly to your bank account on a quarterly basis. You can also ask that it is sent as an annual payment but only if your child care Benefit is approved to be sent to you as a single annual lump sum payment. It is claimed as a Child Care Benefit if you want to receive it on a fortnightly or quarterly basis.
The payment method that you choose is the one that will be used for the entire fiscal year. You cannot apply for a new payment method until the next financial year unless the circumstances are exceptional. You can change your method of payment for the next financial year by logging on to your Centrelink online account. You can find out more information about opening and accessing Centrelink online accounts at http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/centrelink/centrelink-online-services.
The money can be paid direct to a Child Care benefit approved service and never see the inside of your account. However, how and when this is paid depends on how often your child care service sends Centrelink your offspring’s attendance information. The amount of your allotted Child Care Rebate will be deducted from your child care fee amounts.
It can also be paid to your chosen bank account, but the amount sent also is going to be calculated according to your child’s attendance level. Any withheld payments are balanced out at the end of the year.
If you choose to be paid quarterly then keep in mind that the first quarterly period starts on July 1st and the rest of your money is paid out on September 30, December 30 and march 31. The last payment may only occur if your payments are balanced.
If you claim the benefit annually as a lump sum then the amount that you have coming to you is assessed at the end of the year. The request to have a lump sum payment must be received by June 30, 2013 the previous year.
Other Important Facts About the Child Care Rebate
You can be paid for absences from daycare for up to 42 days per financial year without penalty. However, you can appeal to have additional days approved and you must talk to your child care provider about the submission of attendance to complete the request. Examples of absences that count are public holidays during which the child would have normally attended school. There is an app for keeping track of all of this called the Express Plus mobile app for Centrelink at http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/express-plus-mobile-apps.
It is only approved child care service facilities that are eligible for submitting the child care benefit required attendance sheets on your behalf. Types of approved child care that qualify include family day care, day-long care, in home care, occasional care, after-school care, vacation care and in-home care. The service you use must be an officially approved one or you will not get the rebate. You can find out if your child care service is approved by going to http://ifp.mychild.gov.au/mvc/Search/Advanced on the Australian Government general website.