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Additional Child Care Subsidy (child wellbeing)

The Additional Child Care Subsidy (child wellbeing) Guidance for Approved Providers provides more detail on the administration of this subsidy.

Eligibility

Additional Child Care Subsidy (child wellbeing) provides additional child care fee assistance to an individual (or provider) in respect of children at risk of serious abuse or neglect. It helps to address cost barriers families may experience, so that children can either enter or remain engaged with child care.

For the purposes of Additional Child Care Subsidy (child wellbeing), a child is taken to be at risk of serious abuse or neglect if the child is at risk of experiencing harm, as a result of current or past circumstances or events that resulted in the child being subject to, or exposed to, any of the following:

  • serious physical, emotional or psychological abuse, or
  • sexual abuse, or
  • domestic or family violence, or
  • neglect.

The Minister's Rule sets out in detail the circumstances when a child is taken to be at risk of serious abuse or neglect for the purposes of Additional Child Care Subsidy (child wellbeing).

The definition of 'at risk' includes situations where the child is likely to experience those circumstances in the future (i.e. the future risk is 'real and apparent'). This allows families to be eligible for the subsidy at the appropriate earliest point and potentially before they are known to a child protection agency.

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 therefore be eligible to receive the payment.

Enrolling children at risk when no eligible individual can be identified

In certain cases, a provider may identify a child at risk of neglect or abuse who meets relevant criteria but may be unable to identify a parent or carer - an individual or claimant - who is eligible for Additional Child Care Subsidy (child wellbeing). In these cases, as a last resort, the provider may enrol the child under an 'Additional Child Care Subsidy (child wellbeing) - provider eligible arrangement'. This arrangement will end once the child is no longer at risk.

In this situation, the provider effectively becomes the individual in relation to that child, although a different arrangement will apply to the enrolment (see Enrolling children).

Limits on when a provider can give an Additional Child Care Subsidy (child wellbeing) certificate for a child

When 50 per cent or more of the children cared for by a service on any one day are receiving Additional Child Care Subsidy (child wellbeing), a provider cannot give any additional certificates (see How to access Additional Child Care Subsidy (child wellbeing)). The 50 per cent includes children:

If a service is approaching the 50 per cent threshold, the provider will receive notifications through third-party software or the Provider Entry Point, so it can monitor the situation. If a service reaches the 50 per cent threshold, the provider will no longer be able to give certificates for children at risk. However, it will still be able to apply for Additional Child Care Subsidy (child wellbeing) by seeking approval (a determination) from the Department of Human Services.

Under certain circumstances, the Department of Education and Training can change the percentage limit that applies to a particular service. Providers who believe there is a case for this for one of their services, should apply through third-party software or the Provider Entry Point.

Parental involvement - discussing child wellbeing with families

Providers who identify a child who may be at risk should have an open and transparent conversation with the family. The provider may want to let them know that:

  • there are concerns about the child and the family, and that the provider or service wants to help
  • Additional Child Care Subsidy (child wellbeing) does not necessarily involve a child protection agency. However, if the child’s circumstances meet the state or territory legislative requirements for reporting (including mandatory reporting) the provider must comply with those requirements
  • Additional Child Care Subsidy (child wellbeing) is available to help children in difficult and stressful situations, and their families, through increased subsidy for six weeks and possibly longer (up to 100 hours and up to 120 per cent of the rate cap)
  • the provider can initially certify Additional Child Care Subsidy (child wellbeing) for up to six weeks, providing immediate practical support, and that the provider can make application for the subsidy to continue after that if required
  • providers who certify Additional Child Care Subsidy (child wellbeing) must share information about the circumstances with an appropriate state or territory body (see Providing notice to an appropriate state or territory body), and the organisation may contact the family to help them.

If a provider does not feel they can have a conversation with the parents or carers, they could ask a relevant organisation for guidance. In some cases, providers may need to consider if reporting (including mandatory reporting) is required.

How to access Additional Child Care Subsidy (child wellbeing)

There are two ways to access Additional Child Care Subsidy (child wellbeing):

  1. Giving an Additional Child Care Subsidy (child wellbeing) certificate
  2. Additional Child Care Subsidy (child wellbeing) determination.

These are described in more detail in the following sections.