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Service approval

What types of child care service can be approved?

There are four types of child care services which can be approved by the Department of Education to receive and pass on Child Care Subsidy and Additional Child Care Subsidy payments to families:

  • Centre Based Day Care
  • Outside School Hours Care
  • Family Day Care
  • In Home Care.

Please note that the definitions of ‘care’ may differ from those provided under National Law, and the National Law has its own specific requirements relating to different types of care.

What is Centre Based Day Care?

A Centre Based Day Care service is provided in centres that are approved by the relevant state or territory authority.

A Centre Based Day Care service may offer sessions of care to children who attend school, however, this must not be the care that is predominately provided by the service—the majority of care should be provided to children who do not attend school.

A Centre Based Day Care service must operate for a minimum period of at least 48 weeks per year, unless the Department of Education determines that a specific shorter period is appropriate (see What is the minimum number of weeks each year an approved service must operate?).

Beyond operating for the minimum period, the provider can decide on the hours of care provided per day and the number of days per week that care is provided. Providers can consider flexible options that suit their children and families as well as their business.

A child attends school where the child:

  • attends the year of school before Grade 1 of primary school (for example, kindergarten), or
  • attends primary or secondary school, or
  • is on a break from school and will be returning to primary or secondary school after that break (for example, school holidays), or
  • is subject to home schooling as recognised in the state or territory in which the child lives, or
  • has reached six years of age.

What is Outside School Hours Care?

Outside School Hours Care services provide care before and after school hours and during school holidays for children who normally attend school.

Children who do not attend school may attend Outside School Hours Care (for example, a service may provide care for preschool-age siblings of school-age children), and the mix of children attending the service can vary from day-to-day or week-to-week. However, an Outside School Hours Care service must predominantly provide care to school-age children.

Outside School Hours Care services must operate for at least seven weeks per year, unless the Department of Education determines that a specific shorter period is appropriate (see What is the minimum number of weeks each year an approved service must operate?).

Beyond operating for the minimum period, the provider can decide the hours of care provided per day and the number of days per week. Providers can consider flexible options that suit families as well as their business.

What is Family Day Care?

Family Day Care is care that is usually provided in the home of an educator for one or more children.

Family Day Care must be provided by an approved provider as part of an approved service. Family Day Care services must operate for at least 48 weeks per year, unless the Department of Education determines that a specific shorter period is appropriate (see What is the minimum number of weeks each year an approved service must operate?).

There is no entitlement to Child Care Subsidy or Additional Child Care Subsidy where a Family Day Care educator, or their partner, cares for:

  • their or their partner’s child, including a foster care child, adopted child, kinship child or child for which they otherwise have legal responsibility, or
  • their or their partner’s brother, sister, half-brother or half-sister, step-brother or step-sister.

Further, where an individual or their partner is a Family Day Care educator, they will not be eligible for Child Care Subsidy or Additional Child Care Subsidy for a session of care provided to their child on the same day that the individual or their partner is providing care as a Family Day Care educator. However, an exemption to this prohibition applies where certain limited specified circumstances exist (see Can care be provided by a Family Day Care service to a Family Day Care educator’s child?).

What is In Home Care?

In Home Care is care is provided in the home of a child by an educator where the family meets the suitability criteria for In Home Care.

In Home Care is a flexible child care option available to families that are not able to access Centre Based Day Care, Family Day Care or Outside School Hours Care and where one or more of the following circumstances apply:

  • parents or carers are working outside normal child care service hours
  • parents or carers are too far away from other types of approved child care—for example, in rural and remote locations
  • the family has challenging or complex needs and other approved child care services are not able to meet the needs of the child or the family.

Families accessing In Home Care due to challenging or complex needs may have one or more of the following circumstances:

  • a child with additional needs or disability whose early childhood education and care requirements cannot be catered for in another approved child care setting or through other government-funded or community-based services
  • a family where a parent is undergoing treatment for a serious illness
  • other family situations that prevent families from accessing other approved child care types.

In Home Care is not regulated under the National Law. However, approved In Home Care services must meet quality standards as outlined in the Minister's Rules (see also Appendix C).

There is no entitlement to Child Care Subsidy or Additional Child Care Subsidy where an In Home Care educator, or their partner, cares for:

  • their or their partner’s biological child, regular care child, foster care child, adopted child, kinship child or child for which they otherwise have legal responsibility
  • their or their partner’s brother, sister, half-brother or half-sister, step-brother or step-sister, grandchild or great- grandchild, nephew, niece or cousin.

However, an exemption to this prohibition applies where certain limited specified circumstances exist.

More information on In Home Care can be found in the In Home Care National Guidelines and In Home Care Handbook.

What types of services cannot be approved?

A service that only offers care informally or as part of providing non-care-related services cannot be approved under Family Assistance Law.

Services cannot be approved under Family Assistance Law if they are any of the following:

  • informal care provided through personal arrangements (for example, baby-sitting or grandparents providing ad hoc care to their grandchildren)
  • a service primarily providing instruction in an activity (such as sport or music)
  • a service primarily providing a disability or early intervention service
  • a service that provides care, but the parent retains responsibility for the child while the service is provided (such as a play group)
  • a service primarily providing short-term irregular care at premises where the parent is a visitor or guest and the parent is readily available (such as a service provided by a gym)
  • a service that primarily provides an early educational program to children in the year that is two years before Grade 1 of school (such as a preschool or kindergarten).

Mixed or integrated services can still be approved if they include such activities but not if this is the service they primarily provide.

What is the minimum number of weeks each year an approved service must operate?

The minimum period that a service must operate each year is:

  • 48 weeks per year for a Centre Based Day Care service (this includes long day care and occasional child care services), family day care and in home care
  • seven weeks per year for an Outside School Hours Care service.

However, the Secretary of the Department of Education may specify a shorter minimum period for a service if satisfied that due to special circumstances affecting the service it is appropriate for the service to operate for a shorter minimum period.

Providers that consider their services have special circumstances affecting their operating period should contact the Department of Education.

More information is available is available on the Department of Education website at docs.education.gov.au/documents/child-care-subsidy-minimum-operating-periods-special-circumstance-requirements-fact-sheet.