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The enrolment process

There are four steps to enrol a child.

  1. The individual makes a claim for Child Care Subsidy with Centrelink
  2. The provider and individual agree an arrangement for care of a child
  3. The provider submits an enrolment notice
  4. The individual confirms the enrolment.

The process is outlined in the diagram below, and each step (1-4) is described in more detail in the following sections.

The first two steps do not have to occur in this order, but no subsidy can be paid until all four steps have been completed.

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Figure 2: Summary of the four main steps to enrol a child with a child care provider when claiming the Child Care Subsidy from Centrelink

Once this enrolment process is successfully completed, entitlements can be calculated and payments made. For more information, see The payment process.

Please note that the following four sections of the Handbook correspond with numbers in the process diagram above. 

1. The individual makes a claim for Child Care Subsidy with Centrelink

Child care providers are not directly involved in the making of a claim for Child Care Subsidy by the individual or their partner. However, the individual or their partner must make a claim, and be determined to be eligible, in order for Child Care Subsidy entitlement to be determined.

The family should create or access their Centrelink online account via www.my.Gov.au to lodge a Child Care Subsidy Claim for their child.

Where possible, providers should encourage parents or carers to lodge their claim before enrolling their child. A Child Care Subsidy claim can stay active for a year without any sessions of care being reported for the child. However, Child Care Subsidy claims can only be backdated to a maximum of 28 days before the claim was made. If a child is enrolled and starts attending care before a claim is made, and the claim is delayed, the individual will not be eligible for Child Care Subsidy for any sessions of care that occurred more than 28 days before.

Providers should note that any subsidy payable for the 28-day period before a claim was made will generally be paid to the individual, not to the provider.

Centrelink will check and confirm the eligibility of the individual and child for Child Care Subsidy. For more information, see An individual's eligibility for Child Care Subsidy, including Additional Child Care Subsidy.

Families are responsible for updating Centrelink with any changes to their income, activity and other circumstances, which they can do through their Centrelink online account. Providers do not need to obtain, record or submit this information.

Information for families

Families can create or access their Centrelink online account and lodge a claim for Child Care Subsidy through myGov.

Information for families about Child Care Subsidy and Additional Child Care Subsidy is available on the Department of Human Services Website.

Families can call Centrelink about Child Care Subsidy and other family payments on 136 150, from Monday to Friday, 8am-8pm, including for staff assistance in completing the claim form.

For information about contacting Centrelink with extra needs such as accessibility, languages, translations, hearing or speech impairment, see extra assistance.

2. The provider and individual agree an arrangement for care of a child

The provider must agree up-front with the individual on the planned arrangements for care of a child. The terms of an arrangement are a matter for the provider and individual, based on the particular circumstances.

The only type of arrangement that can enable families to receive Child Care Subsidy or Additional Child Care Subsidy is called a 'Complying Written Arrangement'. A 'Complying Written Arrangement' is an agreement to provide care in return for fees. A Complying Written Agreement must include certain information, but as long as it meets these requirements, it can be established through the same enrolment form or process the provider would normally use to enrol a child.

An arrangement must be recorded, in either hardcopy (paper) or electronic form and kept by the provider. An arrangement can cover more than one child, if multiple children in a family will attend a child care service (though each child must have their own enrolment).

Types of arrangement

There are four types of arrangement:

  • Complying Written Arrangement
  • Relevant Arrangement
  • Additional Child Care Subsidy (child wellbeing) - provider eligible arrangement
  • Arrangement with an organisation (third party).

An enrolment notice is required for each child attending the service, for any kind of arrangement. The description, and eligibility, of each type of arrangement is set out in Table 5.

The enrolment notice will reflect the type of arrangement that is in place between the provider and the family/individual or organisation.

Table 5: The four different types of child care arrangements with details of each and information about whether Child Care Subsidy / Additional Child Care Subsidy is payable

Arrangement type

Description

Is Child Care Subsidy / Additional Child Care Subsidy payable?

Complying Written Arrangement

A Complying Written Arrangement must set out the following:

  • the names and contact details of the provider and the individual(s)
  • the date that the arrangement starts
  • the name and date of birth of the child (or children)
  • if care will be provided on a routine basis, and if so:
    • details about the days on which sessions of care will usually be provided, and
    • the usual start and end times for these sessions of care
  • whether care may be provided on a casual or flexible basis (in addition to, or instead of, a routine basis)
  • details of fees to be charged under the arrangement (this can be by reference to a fee schedule or information available on the provider's website maintained by the provider), that the parties understand may vary from time to time.

Additional information can be included to support the individual's understanding of their payment obligations.

Yes - Child Care Subsidy or Additional Child Care Subsidy

Relevant Arrangement

An arrangement between the provider and individual for the care of a child that does not meet the full requirements for a Complying Written Arrangement.

Child Care Subsidy is not payable for care provided under a relevant arrangement. This type of enrolment notice is used only where a provider is sure that the family does not wish to claim Child Care Subsidy for the sessions of care they are going to provide, or the child's eligibility is not confirmed.

No

Additional Child Care Subsidy (child wellbeing) - Provider Eligible Arrangement

Where a provider has identified a child is at risk of serious neglect or abuse, but no eligible individual can be identified. In this case, the provider effectively becomes eligible for Additional Child Care Subsidy for that child, rather than an individual. For more information about this situation, see Enrolling children at risk when no eligible individual can be identified.

Yes - Additional Child Care Subsidy

Arrangement with an organisation (third party)

Made when another party (for example, an employer, other organisation, or the state - such as for participants in the Adult Migrant English Program) is liable for the fees for care of the child.

No

For a relevant arrangement, or arrangement with an organisation, the provider invoices the individual or the organisation for the full fee as agreed in the arrangement, because no subsidy applies.  However, an enrolment notice and session reports are required to be submitted for a relevant arrangement, and are encouraged to be submitted for an arrangement with an organisation.

An arrangement can cover routine and/or casual care

A Complying Written Arrangement needs to establish the basis on which the two parties expect care will be provided. This includes whether the arrangement includes routine sessions (booked days), is casual only, or is a mix of both. If there are routine sessions, the arrangement must indicate the usual days and session times.

If casual care is included in the arrangement, it may also set out relevant terms (for example, whether there is a minimum period of care, that it is subject to availability, and so on).

Establishing the routine sessions in a Complying Written Arrangement does not remove flexibility for the child to attend on other days (for example, when the parent wants to work an extra shift), or not attend on routine days (for example, where the family is on holidays), as agreed with the provider.

For more information on how the arrangement is reflected in the child's enrolment, see Information required for an enrolment notice.

Inclusion of fees in a Complying Written Arrangement

Child care fees must be part of the arrangement with a family and usual fee information must be included in the enrolment notice.

The fees are a matter to be agreed between the provider and family. There are no set minimum or maximum fees that the provider may charge, but there are caps on the subsidy which may be paid. These are set out in detail under Child Care Subsidy.

Hourly session fees are the amount that the individual, or the partner, is liable to pay for a session of care, divided by the number of hours in the session; and reduced by:

  • the hourly rate of any subsidy (other than Child Care Subsidy and Additional Child Care Subsidy) that the individual benefits from for that session - such as a subsidy paid by the parent’s employer to reduce their child care fees
  • the amount per hour of any reimbursement fringe benefit that is paid to the individual for that session.

Hourly session fees are required to calculate Child Care Subsidy entitlements, but providers may charge fees on a sessional basis.

Where the individual will be liable for a range of different fees depending on the type of care used, or discounts and surcharges that may apply at certain times, it is open to providers to include a fee schedule as an attachment to a Complying Written Arrangement (that is updated as needed). Regardless of the way fee information is included, it must be clear that all fees that may be charged have been accepted by the individual as part of the arrangement.

Ensuring the individual understands the arrangement

It is important that parents understand the arrangement they are entering into, including the fees they will usually be charged and how these might vary in particular circumstances. In addition to being a good business practice and reducing the likelihood of disputes during the enrolment, this will also reduce the likelihood of the enrolment confirmation process (see 3 below) being unnecessarily delayed due to a parent not understanding details presented for confirmation.

3. The provider submits an enrolment notice

Once the provider has made an arrangement with an individual, they can create a new enrolment notice through third-party software or the Provider Entry Point.

The provider must submit an enrolment notice for each child at each service, irrespective of what type of arrangement is in place. If a written arrangement covers more than one child, or more than one service, a separate enrolment notice must be provided for each child at each service.

When is an enrolment notice required?

An initial enrolment notice must be submitted within seven days from either:

  • the end of the week in which the provider and family entered into an arrangement
  • the provider or service being approved (if after the start of the arrangement or attendance), or
  • the end of a suspension of service (if an approved service has been suspended by the Department of Education and the enrolment occurs during the period of suspension).

Types of enrolment - routine and/or casual care

An enrolment needs to identify the expected pattern of care, based on the Complying Written Arrangement. These can be either:

  • routine sessions, with casual care permitted
  • casual enrolment - no routine sessions are included, or
  • routine sessions only - casual care is not included.

If parents do not know whether or when they might use casual sessions of care, including casual session fee/s in the Complying Written Arrangement and corresponding enrolment notice allows parents to understand and confirm that this is what they will be charged if they ever happen to use a casual session.

This may include minimum time periods for casual sessions, and hourly rates specific for casual care.

Information required for an enrolment notice

All of the information set out in Table 6 below is required for an enrolment notice related to a Complying Written Arrangement. Some of the information will not apply to enrolments related to other types of arrangement - once a type of arrangement is selected, the third-party software or Provider Entry Point will request the information relevant to that arrangement type.

Through third-party software or the Provider Entry Point, the provider will be able to view, create, update or cease enrolments for all children attending their service(s). The provider will also be able to see the complete enrolment history (all current and ceased enrolment notices) for each child enrolled.

Table 6: The information required for an enrolment notice related to a Complying Written Arrangement, listed by category

Category

Details to be provided

Enrolment circumstances

Whether either:

  • an arrangement for care has been made, or
  • a certificate or determination has been made for Additional Child Care Subsidy (child wellbeing).

Whether the arrangement is any of the following:

  • a Complying Written Arrangement, or
  • a Relevant Arrangement, or
  • Additional Child Care Subsidy (child wellbeing) - provider eligible, or
  • an arrangement with an organisation.

Expected pattern of care

Whether this includes any of the following:

  • routine sessions, with casual care permitted, or
  • casual enrolment - no routine sessions are included, or
  • routine sessions only - casual care is not included.

Dates

Date the care arrangement was entered into.

End date for the arrangement (if known at the time the arrangement was created).

Parties to the arrangement

Names of individuals (or organisation) who have entered into the agreement - usually the same as the Child Care Subsidy claimant but can be someone else (for example, where dad is the Child Care Subsidy claimant, but mum enters into the arrangement with the service to provide care).

If both parents are parties to the arrangement, enter the parent who is also the Child Care Subsidy claimant here .

Child receiving care

Child name

Centrelink Customer Reference Number (CRN)

Child date of birth

Service providing care

Service ID

Regular educator (mandatory for Family Day Care)

Individual for whom entitlements will be determined (the claimant)

Individual's name

Individual's CRN

Individual's date of birth

Session details and liability

Day of session

Session start time

Session end time

Routine session/s - 'usual fee' (hourly fee or session fee)

Casual session/s (if applicable) - hourly or session fee

Liability for session fees - breakdown between individuals/third parties (for example, employer, Adult Migrant English Program) and no individual (in the case of enrolment for Additional Child Care Subsidy (child wellbeing) - provider eligible)

4. The individual confirms the enrolment

After the provider submits an enrolment notice for a child, the individual will be notified and asked to review and check the main enrolment notice details. This will occur through their Centrelink online account (or Express Plus mobile app), accessed via myGov (www.my.gov.au). Where an individual cannot access myGov, they can confirm their enrolment over the phone with Centrelink, or by visiting a Centrelink office.

The individual must then do one of the following:

  • confirm the enrolment - if they agree that the details are correct, or
  • dispute details of the enrolment - if there are details they do not believe reflect the arrangement that they have agreed, or
  • reject the enrolment - if the child is not enrolled at the service.

The provider can begin entering information (detailing the care actually provided) before the individual reviews the enrolment and responds. Once the enrolment is confirmed, entitlements will be calculated and payments can begin.

The provider will be notified through their third-party software or the Provider Entry Point when the enrolment has been confirmed.

Disagreements over enrolment

If an individual disagrees with the details of an enrolment, at the point of enrolment confirmation they will send details of the disagreement back through their Centrelink online account, and these will be sent on to the provider. After reviewing the details that the individual disagreed with, the provider could either:

  • agree there was an error and submit an updated enrolment notice with the correct information, or
  • maintain that the details were correct, meaning the individual has possibly misread, or misunderstood, the details they disagreed with.

If the provider maintains that the details were correct, the provider will need to contact the individual to resolve the matter, before re-submitting the enrolment notice.

In either case, the enrolment will then be provided back to the individual for confirmation.

While a dispute is being resolved, the provider can continue to provide care for the child and must submit session reports, although payments will not be processed for those sessions. Once the disagreement is resolved and the enrolment is confirmed, payments will be calculated for session reports already submitted.

Through the enrolment confirmation process, the individual will also be able to indicate that their child is not enrolled at the service (as opposed to one or more of the enrolment details being incorrect). The provider will receive a notification if this occurs.

If an individual indicates the child is not enrolled, session reports will not be accepted for that enrolment (and payments will not be made). If the provider maintains that the child is enrolled, and the individual has made a mistake, they will need to contact the individual to explain and resolve the matter, before submitting a new enrolment notice (to be confirmed by the individual).

Shared care - separated parents

If a child's parents are separated, and both individuals (or their new partners) are liable for part of the cost of the child's child care fees, each individual will need to make their own claim for Child Care Subsidy to Centrelink. Each parent will also need to agree their own Complying Written Arrangement with the provider (or providers) who provide care to their child. Each parent will be assessed separately for their entitlement to Child Care Subsidy, based on their income and activity levels.

In all circumstances, including shared care arrangements, the allocation of 42 absences per financial year in which Child Care Subsidy can be paid relates to each child, not to each individual claimant.

Where families have separated after commencement of the Complying Written Arrangement, the parent who is the Child Care Subsidy claimant must notify Centrelink of this change in their circumstances. Where the other parent who was not the Child Care Subsidy claimant wishes to receive Child Care Subsidy payments, they will be required to make their own claim, based on their individual income and activity levels.

If parents separate while care is being provided for their child under a single arrangement, they should advise their provider (as well as Centrelink) of the separation as soon as possible. The provider will need to create a new enrolment notice for the parent who was not previously the Child Care Subsidy claimant for the child, if that parent is taking on liability for the cost of some of the child care fees.

Once parents have separated and have been separately assessed for Child Care Subsidy by Centrelink, entitlements will be calculated individually. Maximum hours and annual caps will apply to each parent, depending on their circumstances, activity and income.

It is the responsibility of the provider of an approved child care service to ensure that each child's attendances are submitted under the enrolment for the parent with whom they have an arrangement and who is liable for paying the fees for those sessions of care.

If parents do not inform the provider of their changed circumstances, then it is the parents' responsibility to resolve any disputes they may have regarding Child Care Subsidy payments and fees.