Families package: reforms to child care system
The government will provide an additional $3.2b over five years from 2014/15 to support families with child care so they can move into work, stay in work, train, study or undertake other recognised activities.
A new Child Care Subsidy will be introduced from 1 July 2017 which will support families where both parents work. Families meeting the activity test with annual incomes up to $60,000 will be eligible for a subsidy of 85% of the actual fee paid, up to an hourly fee cap. The subsidy will taper to 50% for eligible families with annual incomes of $165,000. The Child Care Subsidy will have no annual cap for families with annual incomes below $180,000. For families with annual incomes of $180,000 and above, the Child Care Subsidy will be capped at $10,000 per child per year.
Under the new regime, parents must do a minimum of eight hours a fortnight of work, study or training to qualify for any child care support.
The income threshold for the maximum subsidy will be indexed by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) with other income thresholds aligned accordingly. Eligibility will be linked to the new activity test to better align receipt of the subsidy with hours of work, study or other recognised activities. The hourly fee cap in 2017/18 will be set at $11.55 for long day care, $10.70 for family day care, and $10.10 for outside school hour’s care. The hourly fee caps will be indexed by CPI.
Additional support will be provided to eligible families through a Child Care Safety Net providing targeted support to disadvantaged or vulnerable families to address barriers to accessing child care. The Child Care Safety Net consists of three programmes — the Additional Child Care Subsidy, a new Inclusion Support Programme and the Community Child Care Fund. Families with incomes of around $65,000 or less in 2017/18, who do not meet the activity test, will be eligible to receive up to 24 hours subsidised care per fortnight under the Child Care Safety Net.
A new Interim Home Based Carer Subsidy Programme will subsidise care provided by a nanny in a child’s home from 1 January 2016. The pilot programme will extend fee assistance to the parents of approximately 10,000 children. Families selected to participate will be those who are having difficulty accessing child care with sufficient flexibility. Support for families will be based on the Child Care Subsidy parameters, but with a fee cap of $7.00 per hour per child.
The Child Care Subsidy will replace the current child care fee assistance provided by the Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate. Accordingly, the existing Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate will be abolished from 1 July 2017.