This subsidy gives families who need practical help to support their child’s safety and wellbeing assistance with the cost of child care. This helps to address cost barriers families may experience so that children can enter or remain engaged with child care.
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What is ACCS (child wellbeing)?
Children at risk of serious abuse or neglect may be eligible for ACCS (child wellbeing).
ACCS (child wellbeing) gives a child’s family:
- a higher rate of subsidy, and
- more hours of subsidised child care.
Families must meet criteria for ACCS (child wellbeing). The parent or carer must:
- be eligible for Child Care Subsidy (CCS), and
- care for a child who is considered at risk of abuse or neglect.
When is a child considered at risk?
For the purposes of ACCS (child wellbeing), a child is at risk of serious abuse or neglect if they are exposed to:
- serious physical, emotional or psychological abuse
- sexual abuse
- domestic or family violence, or
A child is also considered at risk if they:
- are likely to experience any of the above in the future, or
- are in a foster care arrangement recognised in a decision of a court or tribunal under relevant state/territory law.
What if I identify a child at risk?
Unlike other subsidies, providers are responsible for applying for ACCS (child wellbeing) on behalf of a family. Any child who is identified as being at risk under state or territory child protection law will meet the definition of at risk and the individual (or provider) will be therefore eligible to receive the payment.
If you identify a child who is at risk of serious abuse or neglect you should have a conversation with the family, where possible. You should discuss:
- their circumstances
- benefits of ACCS
- best options for support service referrals and other assistance, and
- requirement for the parent/carer to apply for CCS first (if they haven’t already).
Sometimes, you may not be able to have a conversation with the family. For example, if doing so could result in the family withdrawing their child from care.
Learn more about when a child is considered at risk, and how to approach their family, in the Guide to ACCS (child wellbeing).
In rare cases, you might not be able to identify a CCS-eligible parent or carer. In these cases, you may be eligible to receive ACCS (child wellbeing) payments on behalf of the child. To do this, you must enrol the child under a Provider Eligible Enrolment.
How do I apply?
Child care providers give families access to ACCS (child wellbeing) through a certificate or determination.
Families and child protection agencies are not able to apply.
Giving a certificate
A certificate is generally the first step in gaining access to ACCS (child wellbeing).
A certificate gives a family immediate access to ACCS (child wellbeing) for up to six weeks.
You complete the certificate in the Provider Entry Point (PEP) or your third-party software.
Learn more about certificates in the Guide to ACCS (child wellbeing).
Applying for a determination
You can apply to Services Australia for a determination if you believe the child will continue to be at risk after the six-week certificate period ends.
A determination provides access to ACCS (child wellbeing) for a further 13 weeks.
If the child continues to be at risk after the 13-week determination period, you can apply for another determination.
Children in formal foster care arrangements or the subject of a long-term protection order or welfare order under state and territory child welfare legislation, can receive a determination for up to 52 weeks.
Where a child is identified as being at risk and exceptional circumstances prevented you from issuing a certificate or determination for ACCS (child wellbeing), you can apply for a backdated certificate or determination for up to 13 weeks.
Learn more about determinations in the Guide to ACCS (child wellbeing).
Your application for a determination must include evidence that shows the child continues to be at risk.
Organisations considered suitable to provide evidence include:
- State and territory government early intervention and support services for vulnerable children and families
- Non-government organisations providing early intervention and family support services
- Other organisations that provide relevant services including those related to mental health, family violence and family law, homelessness, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services
- State and territory government child safety/protection agencies
Professionals considered suitable to provide evidence include:
- Medical practitioners and registered nurses
- Hospital admission/emergency unit professionals
- Welfare agency personnel and social workers
- Psychologists and counsellors
- Physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists
- School principals and teachers
- Police officers
Examples of acceptable evidence:
- Case plans
- Court orders
- Documentary evidence from a child safety/protection agency
You may provide a statutory declaration if you are unable to obtain evidence, for the first determination only. The statutory declaration needs to outline what steps you have taken to obtain third-party evidence and why you haven’t been successful.
Learn more about evidence requirements in the Guide to ACCS (child wellbeing).
You must notify an appropriate support agency after giving a certificate or applying for a determination. This is a requirement under Family Assistance Law.
You must also follow your state or territory’s formal reporting obligations under child safety/protection laws.
Learn more about mandatory reporting, including what an appropriate support agency is, in the Guide to ACCS (child wellbeing).
Information for foster carers
Foster carers may be eligible for ACCS (child wellbeing) if a child in their care is at risk.
The foster carer must apply and be eligible for CCS. If approved for CCS, the foster carer becomes liable for child care fees. However, the full cost of care is usually covered by ACCS (child wellbeing).
If the foster carer’s income is above the income threshold for CCS, or they don’t meet activity test requirements, they may still be eligible for payment. Once ACCS (child wellbeing) has been granted, this exempts carers from the income and activity tests which are associated with CCS and therefore will be eligible for payment.
- The Guide to ACCS (child wellbeing) has more information for providers administering the subsidy.
- Use this statutory declaration to support your application if you are unable to gain third-party evidence.
- Use this form to request the department’s Secretary to determine if a child meets immunisation requirements.