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Sessions of care

What is a session of care?

A session of care is the minimum period that a provider charges an individual a fee for providing child care (not the period the child actually attends).

A session of care can be any length of time up to 12 hours, but it 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 for care 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 Can an absence be reported for care when a service is closed?).

There is no eligibility for Child Care Subsidy or Additional Child Care Subsidy for a session of care in the circumstances described below. Reporting care where there is no eligibility for Child Care Subsidy or Additional Child Care Subsidy or where no care occurred may be an offence or breach of a civil penalty provision under Family Assistance Law.

The circumstances where there is no eligibility for Child Care Subsidy include where care is provided to a child:

  • aboard a transportation vehicle (such as a bus), unless the transport is merely incidental to a session of care being provided (such as to take children on an outing)
  • in a domestic living arrangement on residential premises which is the child's own home; or when the child's parent or other primary carer stays with the child while the care is taking place, except for care provided by an In Home Care service
  • by an educator who does not hold a required working with children card/check (or equivalent) or where the card/check has been issued but the Department of Education has not been notified of the card details
  • while the child is attending school or engaged in a formal schooling program (including a home schooling or distance education program) during any part of the session of care (for example, sessions of before and after school care should not be reported to overlap with the child's school hours).

Can care be provided by an educator to their own children or siblings?

There is no entitlement to Child Care Subsidy or Additional Child Care Subsidy for a session of care where a Family Day Care or In Home 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
  • their or their partner's brother, sister, half-brother or half-sister, step-brother or step-sister.

Additionally, In Home Care educators are not entitled to Child Care Subsidy or Additional Child Care Subsidy for a session of care if they or their partner cares for a grandchild or great-grandchild, nephew, niece or cousin.

The rules do not apply to Centre Based Day Care or Outside School Hours Care educators.

Can care be provided by a Family Day Care service to a Family Day Care educator's child?

There is no entitlement to Child Care Subsidy or Additional Child Care Subsidy where a Family Day Care educator's, or their partner's, child is provided with care by a Family Day Care service on the same day that the Family Day Care educator (the parent of the child) also provides care for a Family Day Care service. However, there are limited exceptions to this rule where:

  • the child has been diagnosed as having a medical condition listed in Schedule 1 or 2 of the Minister's Rules, documentary evidence of the diagnosis is provided to the provider, and the diagnosis was obtained within 24 months of providing the documentary evidence (unless the diagnosis is permanent)
  • the service is receiving Inclusion Support Program assistance (see Appendix F) as part of providing care to the child and the child is undergoing assessment for disability, and documentary evidence has been provided to the provider
  • the child lives in an area defined as being remote or very remote and documentary evidence has been provided to the provider
  • the parent has provided documentary evidence to the provider that, at the usual time care is provided to the child, they were either
  • working (other than for an approved Family Day Care service) for at least two hours a day in paid work
  • enrolled in a course of study leading to a Certificate III level or above qualification and engaged in scheduled activities as part of that course while the child is in care.

In simple terms, a Family Day Care educator has no entitlement to Child Care Subsidy or Additional Child Care Subsidy for the care provided to their child by another Family Day Care educator on a day that they are providing care unless one of the above very limited exemptions applies.

Where an exemption does apply, records must be maintained so that the entitlement can be properly determined (see When is a register of care required?).

Can care be provided by relatives of the children?

Family Assistance Law limits the number of children to whom a Family Day Care educator can provide care at the service if they are related to the Family Day Care educator.

More specifically, the rule states that it is a condition for continued approval of a Family Day Care service that the provider ensures that less than 50 per cent of the children to whom any Family Day Care educator is providing care within any Child Care Subsidy fortnight at the service are related to the Family Day Care educator as a:

  • niece or nephew
  • cousin
  • grandchild (including a great-grandchild).

It is important to note that:

  • relatives of the children in care not listed above will not be treated as relatives
  • relatives of a Family Day Care educator's partner (by either de facto or marriage) will be considered relatives of the Family Day Care educator
  • the ratio of 'less than 50 per cent' is applied to the number of children cared for at the service across the whole Child Care Subsidy fortnight and not to one session of care.

Scenario: Care provided to relatives

Marta lives in a regional city and runs her newly established Family Day Care business four days per week from 6.30 am to 7.30 pm.

She has two children under school age who attend regularly four days per week and are not related to her. Her sister sends her four-year-old son (Marta's nephew) two days per week. Marta's sister would also like to enrol her new baby (Marta's niece) into care with Marta when she returns to work in a few months' time.

Under the rules for Family Day Care educators caring for children that are related to them, Marta would not be allowed to accept her niece as a child regularly in her care for two days per week, as this would equate to a ratio of 50 per cent of care provided to relatives within the fortnight.

Marta would need to provide care to at least one more non-related child on at least one day of the given fortnight to be able to care for both her niece and nephew.

Providers are responsible for ensuring they comply with this requirement, noting that it is a condition for continued approval. Providers are encouraged to:

  • update policies and procedures to reflect the requirements
  • communicate the requirement to all their Family Day Care educators and maintain direct contact with their educators affected by the requirement
  • create a log for all their Family Day Care educators to sign to confirm they are aware of the requirement
  • require Family Day Care educators to confirm on a regular basis (for example, every month) that they are not in breach of the requirement
  • incorporate a question in the provider's Complying Written Arrangement and enrolment notice asking if the child is related to the educator so that the necessary information can be captured upfront
  • ensure there is a log of any educators who are currently providing care to the specified relatives and the structure of that care across a given fortnight
  • establishing a weekly or fortnightly reporting mechanism for educators to flag what, if any, care is being delivered to the specified relatives
  • engage with the provider's child care software provider regarding the incorporation of a reporting mechanism into the attendance reporting system.