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Types of eligible child care services

Four types of child care service are able to be approved by the Department of Education and Training for the provision of Child Care Subsidy under Family Assistance Law:

  1. Centre Based Day Care
  2. Family Day Care
  3. Outside School Hours Care
  4. In Home Care.

Each type of care, and some basic rules that apply, is described in more detail in the following sections.

A provider may deliver different types of approved services.  For example, a provider may offer a Centre Based Day Care service and an Outside School Hours Care service. A separate approval is required for each service that the provider delivers if Child Care Subsidy is to be payable for that service.

A provider may also offer different types of care under the same service approval at a single location. For example, an approved Centre Based Day Care service may provide care to both non-school aged and school aged children. Similarly, an Outside School Hours Care service may provide care to both school aged and non-school aged children. The type of service approval will be determined by the care mostly provided by that service, that is, whether care was mostly provided to school aged children or non-school aged children.

Minimum periods of operation generally apply to each service type. Services wishing to operate for less than the required minimum operating period will need to seek a determination from the Department of Education and Training. Services will need to demonstrate that special circumstances apply that make it appropriate for the service to operate for a shorter period. For example, consideration may be given to evidence that shows a service operates in an area where seasonal demand is high or that it operates as a sole provider in the area. For more information, see the Minimum Operating Periods – Special Circumstance Requirements Fact Sheet.

Some services (those that were Budget Based Funded Services prior to July 2018, and new services that are listed at Section 50 of the Minister’s Rules) are exempt from minimum operating period requirements, and meeting National Law and state and territory requirements (for the purposes of the Child Care Subsidy), though they will generally fall within one of these categories. For alternative requirements for these services, see services exempt from the National Law and Regulations .

1. Centre Based Day Care 

This is child care that is provided in centres that are approved by the relevant state or territory authority. It can include any pattern or arrangement of care provided in this setting.

Minimum periods of operation

Centre Based Day Care must operate for at least 48 weeks per year.

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

2. Family Day Care

This child care is usually provided in the home of an educator. An educator may provide care in their home for a group of children, although rules apply as outlined below. Family Day Care must be provided as part of an approved service, by an approved provider.

Minimum periods of operation

Family Day Care services must operate for at least 48 weeks per year.

Maximum number of children

No more than seven children at a time may be in the care of each Family Day Care educator, and no more than four of the children can be preschool age or under. These are requirements of the National Law (not the Family Assistance Law). For more details of the National Law relating to Family Day Care, see the ACECQA website (www.acecqa.gov.au).

Under the Family Assistance Law, children who are a niece/nephew, cousin or grand/great-grandchild of a Family Day Care educator must make up fewer than half of the children to whom the educator is providing care within any fortnight.

Care of own children or siblings excluded from Child Care Subsidy

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.

Care of a Family Day Care educator's children by other Family Day Care educators

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 any Family Day Care service if they (the educator) provide care for a Family Day Care service on that same day, unless (in summary) either:

  • the child is one of the following:
    • an eligible disability child (has evidence of current diagnosis by a qualified practitioner of a recognised condition)
    • an eligible Inclusion Support Program child (for whom the service is receiving Inclusion Support Program assistance)
    • a remote area child (living in an area designated as remote, or very remote, under the Australian Standard Geographical Classification)

or:

  • the parent has supplied evidence that, at the usual time that care is provided, they either:
    • work in paid work that is not for an approved Family Day Care service, or
    • study (are enrolled in education or training towards a recognised qualification provided by a registered training organisation).

More details about these circumstances are available in the Minister's Rules. See Part 2 Division 1 - Circumstances where no one is eligible for a session of care (Section 8 (2)).

Where there is eligibility, records must be updated so that entitlements can be determined. For details, see Records that Family Day Care services must keep.

Records must also be kept of care that is provided at premises other than the educator's home.

3. Outside School Hours Care

This provides 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 aged siblings of school aged 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 be designed to predominantly care for school aged children.

Minimum periods of operation

Outside School Hours Care services must operate for at least seven weeks per year.

Beyond this minimum, 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.

4. In Home Care

In Home Care is a flexible child care option, providing care in the family home and is available to families unable to access Centre Based Day Care, Family Day Care and Outside School Hours Care due to their unique circumstances and where one or more of the following criteria apply:

  • parents or carers are working non-standard or variable hours, outside normal child care service hours
  • parents or carers are geographically isolated from other types of approved child care, particularly in rural or remote locations
  • the family has challenging or complex needs, including where families are experiencing challenging situations, 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 circumstances that include one or more of the following:

  • a child with additional needs or a 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 complex family situations that prevent families from accessing other approved child care types.

In Home Care must be provided as part of an approved service, by an approved provider.

Minimum periods of operation

In Home Care services must operate for at least 48 weeks per year.

Maximum number of children

No more than five children at a time may be in the care of each In Home Care educator, and no more than four of the children can be preschool age or under. All children must be from the same family.

If there are more than the maximum number of children in the family requiring In Home Care, then a second educator may be engaged for another session of care.

Care for own family excluded from Child Care Subsidy

There is no entitlement to Child Care Subsidy or Additional Child Care Subsidy where an In Home Care educator 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
  • their or their partner’s niece, nephew, cousin, grandchild or great-grandchild.

Care of an In Home Care educator’s children by other In Home Care educators

There is no entitlement to Child Care Subsidy or Additional Child Care Subsidy where an In Home Care educator’s, or their partner’s, child is provided with care by any In Home Care service if they (the educator) provide care for an In Home Care service on that same day.

In Home Care Support Agencies

Providers and services must be registered with the relevant In Home Care Support Agency to provide In Home Care Services in that state/territory.

In Home Care Support Agencies service each state and territory, ensuring the program maintains a focus on quality early childhood education and care and advocating for families and supporting them to find care that meets their needs.

In Home Care Support Agencies will assess the family’s suitability for In Home Care and match those families to suitable services that have the capability to provide care that meets the family’s needs. They will work with the family to develop a Family Management Plan tailored to meet the family’s unique needs and will identify referral pathways to disability and family support services including government funded and community based services, where appropriate.

In Home Care Support Agencies provide recommendations to the Department of Education and Training on the allocation of places. Taking these recommendations into account, the Department allocates places to services for families who are suitable for the In Home Care service type, with the focus being on an equitable distribution of places nationally.

For more information, see the In Home Care National Guidelines.

In Home Care educator qualifications

In Home Care educators are required to have a minimum Certificate III level qualification in a relevant course, or be working towards a Certificate III qualification and provide documentary evidence. A Certificate III, a diploma or a degree in Early Childhood Education or equivalent qualifications that have a major focus on Early Childhood Education are acceptable qualifications.