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1. Session reports are submitted by the provider

Sessions of care

A 'session of care' is the minimum period of time that a provider charges a fee for providing child care. Sessions of care should be flexible enough to cater to the needs of families.

A session of care can be any length of time up to 12 hours, but cannot exceed 12 hours. Where care exceeds 12 hours, this must be submitted as two or more sessions of care.

A session of care cannot generally be reported during a time when the service is not open and available to provide child care (except where the service is closed due to a public holiday or local emergency - see Absences).

Reporting sessions of care

Sessions of care are reported through a provider's third-party software or the Provider Entry Point.

A session report must be submitted for each week a session of care has been provided to a child (including absences). Child Care Subsidy and Additional Child Care Subsidy cannot be paid until a session report is received.

Some absences are allowable without affecting payment of Child Care Subsidy. If a child does not attend the session of care, or part of the session of care, the service is still taken to have provided the session and Child Care Subsidy can still be paid, as long as the absence is allowable. An absence is allowable if the care was booked, and an individual was liable to pay for that care. A child can have up to 42 allowable absences in a financial year, but more may be allowable in particular circumstances (such as due to illness). For more information, see Absences.

In Home Care is subsidised per family, up to a maximum of five children in one session of care. Session reports must be provided for all children in an In Home Care session of care. However, the fee charged by the service for the session of care is reported against one nominated child and a $0 rate must be reported against any other children who received care in that session. The nominated child can be any of the children in the session of care eligible for the Child Care Subsidy or Additional Child Care Subsidy. If more than the maximum number of children per educator require In Home Care, a second In Home Care educator can provide care as an additional session of care with an additional nominated child.

Session reports must be accurate. If the Department of Human Services has concerns about the accuracy of session reports, it can stop processing payments until the information has been verified.

When are session reports submitted?

Session reports must be submitted within 14 days after the end of the week when care was provided, except where:

  • A provider or service was not yet approved, or was suspended, on the day the child's enrolment started. The session report must be provided within seven days after the end of the week in which the approval was provided or the suspension was revoked
  • A provider has received business continuity payments because it is unable to provide session reports (such as because its system access is down).

Session reports must be submitted within 14 days after it becomes able to submit reports again.

What must a session report contain?

Session reports need to be provided for each child for each week and need to include the details summarised in Table 11.

Table 11: Issues addressed and details of information required in the weekly session report

Issue

Details

Type of report

Can be:

  • initial report, or
  • variation (change) to a report, or
  • withdrawal of a report.

Dates

Start and end dates of the week the report covers.

Session details

Include:

  • date
  • session start and finish times
  • attendance start and finish times (from 14 January 2019).

Absences

Include:

  • notification of absences (if applicable)
  • reasons for additional absence/s (where child has used more than 42 absence days in a financial year).

Actual fee charged

The actual fee charged must reflect the amount the parent was liable to pay for the session of care.

Where the parent directly benefits from another subsidy or discount that reduces their fee liability in relation to the session (that the provider knows of), the amount in this field must reflect the remaining amount after the other subsidy or discount has been applied. 

Likewise, if the parent is not liable to pay the whole fee charged for the session (because a third party has accepted liability to pay some of the fee), this field must only reflect the portion that the parent is liable for.

Other subsidies paid to the provider to reduce the individual’s fee liability

Where the actual fee charged for the session was reduced by the amount of another subsidy that the parent directly benefitted from (for example, employer contribution to parent’s child care fees):

  • notification of other subsidies - yes/no
  • name of other subsidy payer
  • other subsidy amount - hourly or session amount.

Family Day Care and In Home Care

Educator - Child Care Personnel ID.

Preschool

Whether the session was part of an early education program.

A session report must:

  • contain at least one session of care for a week, recorded as either attendance or an absence
  • only include sessions of care for which an individual incurred a genuine fee liability.

From 14 January 2019 (the first full Child Care Subsidy fortnight in 2019) session reports are required to record actual attendance in and out times (except for absences). Those providers already using an electronic solution for sign-in sign-out purposes should commence providing this information in session reports from July 2018.

Varying session reports

If the provider realises a session report was incorrect or did not need to be submitted (for example, because no care was provided to a child in that week), it can vary or withdraw a session report up until 28 days after the start of the week to which the report relates (or until the end of the financial year, if that occurs sooner).

If a provider needs to withdraw or change a session report after the 28-day limit, it will need to provide a reason for the late change or withdrawal for assessment by the Department of Education and Training.

What if the provider cannot submit session reports? - Business continuity payments

Business continuity payments may only be made if a situation arises that is beyond the control of the approved provider and prevents an approved service from submitting session reports that enable the calculation and payment of Child Care Subsidy and Additional Child Care Subsidy. These payments are an emergency measure only, and do not replace the requirement to submit session reports.

Examples of situations where business continuity payments may apply include (but are not limited to):

  • a disruption to the operation of communication infrastructure the service uses that cannot be rectified by the end of the relevant period, or
  • where the service is significantly affected by a natural disaster, such as flood, storm, fire or earthquake.

Business continuity payments are intended to allow a service to continue operating until electronic reports can be provided. Payments made in this way should still be passed on to parents as fee reductions. Then, once the provider is able to provide reports again, any business continuity payments will be offset against Child Care Subsidy payments (including those that are calculated for a past period in respect to which any business continuity payments were made).

The amount to be paid will be based on the average weekly amount paid to the service during a similar previous period (for example, similar number of children, similar time of year), known as a 'test period'. The amount of the weekly payment will be rounded to the nearest $100.

If the service is new and there is no payment history to establish a 'test period', the amount will be 50 per cent of 50 hours of care for the estimated number of children in care for the week, at the Child Care Subsidy hourly rate cap for the service type.

If a provider is in a situation where it cannot submit session reports for reasons outside its control, it should contact the Department of Education and Training Child Care Help Desk (see Contacts and further information) to ask whether business continuity payments may apply.

Absences

Initial 42 days absence

Child Care Subsidy and Additional Child Care Subsidy are payable for up to 42 absence days for a child in a financial year, in relation to sessions of care where an individual still incurs a genuine fee liability to pay for the care. A reason does not need to be provided for a child's initial 42 days of absence.

Additional absence days

Once 42 absence days have occurred in a financial year, Child Care Subsidy and Additional Child Care Subsidy can only be paid for any additional absences where they are taken for a reason defined in the Family Assistance Law. These reasons can include any of the following:

  • the child, the individual who cares for the child, the individual's partner or another person with whom the child lives is ill
  • the child is attending preschool
  • alternative arrangements have been made on a pupil-free day
  • the child has not been immunised against a particular infectious disease, the absence occurs during an immunisation grace period and a medical practitioner has certified that exposure to the infectious disease would pose a health risk to the child
  • the absence is because the child is spending time with a person other than the individual who is their usual carer as required by a court order or a parenting plan
  • the service is closed as a direct result of a period of local emergency
  • the child cannot attend because of a local emergency (for example, because they are unable to travel to the service), during the period of the emergency or up to 28 days afterwards
  • the individual who cares for the child has decided the child should not attend the service for up to seven days immediately following the end of a period of local emergency.

In shared care arrangements (where separated parents both claim Child Care Subsidy for the child's care), the allocation of 42 absences relates to the child, not to each individual claimant.

Reporting absences when a service is closed

If a service is closed for any reason other than a public holiday or a local emergency (as determined by the Department of Education and Training state or territory office), the provider cannot report children as absent from care.

For example, if a service is closed for renovations on the premises or administrative reasons and the provider advises families that care is unavailable on that day, the provider cannot report children as absent and claim Child Care Subsidy for enrolled sessions of care.

A child who has not yet received care or who has ceased receiving care

Child Care Subsidy will not be paid for absences where a provider charges a family to reserve a place for a child who has not yet physically started care.

If a child is booked in to start at a service on a particular date, and does not start on that day, no Child Care Subsidy will be paid until the child physically attends a session of care.

Similarly, a child care service is taken to have permanently ceased providing care for a child on the day the child last physically attends a session of care. This means that Child Care Subsidy will not be paid for absences submitted after a child last physically attends a session of care.

If a family has confirmed their child's last day at a service, but that child does not attend their last booked sessions of care, no Child Care Subsidy will be paid for any days after the child's last physical attendance at the service.

If a provider continues to charge fees for sessions on days after a child has left the service because the family did not give the agreed period of notice, Child Care Subsidy will not be payable for these sessions of care. If absences are reported in the above circumstances and Child Care Subsidy is incorrectly paid, these amounts will be recovered from the service.

Long absences

If a long absence is anticipated, the plans for this, and how it will be managed, can be specified in the Complying Written Arrangement. However, where a child does not attend a service within a period of eight weeks or more, the enrolment will be taken to have ended. Even where an absence longer than eight weeks is planned in the Complying Written Arrangement, a new enrolment notice will need to be submitted when care recommences after the absence. If a long absence is planned, the family may prefer to end the enrolment and submit a new notice when physical attendance recommences, so that the child’s initial 42 day absences are not used up.