If you identify a child at risk of serious abuse or neglect, their family may be eligible for Additional Child Care Subsidy (ACCS) child wellbeing. This page outlines when a child is considered at risk.
On this page:
Categories of risk
There are 2 groups of children who may be considered at risk for the purposes of ACCS child wellbeing. These are:
- children who you identify as being at risk of serious abuse or neglect
- children who have already been assessed as being at risk under state or territory law.
We must make an assessment about any children who you identify as being at risk. We do not need to make an assessment when a child has already been identified as being at risk by state or territory law.
Children you identify as being at risk
A child is considered at risk of serious abuse or neglect if they are being harmed, or there is a real and apparent risk they are likely to or have been harmed, by exposure to any of the following events:
- serious physical, emotional or psychological abuse
- sexual abuse
- domestic or family violence
- neglect – that is, a failure to be provided with the basic needs that are essential for the child’s physical and emotional wellbeing.
This can include events that:
- occurred in the past
- are occurring in the present
- are likely to occur in the future.
A child can be at risk even if:
- the abuse or neglect was not intentional – for example, a parent who falls seriously ill may not be able to meet their child’s basic physical and emotional needs
- the child did not directly experience the events – for example, a child whose parent experiences violence at the hands of their partner may be harmed, even if the child doesn’t experience violence themselves.
There are some circumstances that, on their own, do not constitute a child being at risk. These include:
- family income
- ethnic, cultural, religious or racial background
- socio-economic status
- whether the child is likely to benefit from early childhood education and care programs
- disability, severe illness or mental illness
- the child being in informal foster care or informal kinship care arrangements.
The circumstances must put the child at risk of harm for the family to be eligible for ACCS child wellbeing.
We have examples on the next page to help you understand when a child would be considered at risk.
It is a good idea for staff at your service to be familiar with common indicators of abuse or neglect. Find more information about child abuse and neglect on the Australian Institute of Family Studies website.
Children identified as at risk under state or territory law
A child is also considered at risk if they are:
- in formal foster care
- in a formal kinship arrangement, or
- on a long-term protection order.
Foster and kinship care
For the purposes of ACCS child wellbeing, a child is in formal foster care or a formal kinship arrangement if:
- a state or territory court or tribunal has placed the child in the care of someone other than their parents
- the child lives with the carer, and
- the carer undertakes the responsibilities of a parent, including paying early childhood education and care fees.
These children are considered at risk for as long as the arrangement remains in place under state or territory law. You must have evidence showing the arrangement with the state or territory, such as a court order.
Foster and kinship carers should lodge a Child Care Subsidy (CCS) claim as early as possible. You may be able to access ACCS child wellbeing on behalf of the carer, while they are being assessed for CCS, for up to 13 weeks under a provider eligible arrangement. We provide more information about what to do in this scenario on our establishing eligibility page.
Long-term protection orders
For the purposes of ACCS child wellbeing, a protection order is an order made under a state or territory law that gives a state or territory department or statutory authority responsibility for, or supervision of a child.
Protection orders are considered long term if:
- they are in place for 12 months or more
- there have been consecutive interim or short-term orders in place for a total of 12 months or more.
Children placed in emergency care by a state or territory government may be considered at risk.
If the emergency carer will continue to be the child’s foster or kinship carer, you can apply for ACCS child wellbeing on their behalf. The carer should lodge a CCS claim as soon as possible.
If the emergency carer will only care for the child on a short-term basis, they are unlikely to be eligible. In this circumstance, you should enrol the child under an arrangement with an organisation. The child will not receive CCS or ACCS.
Residential and other care types
Children in the care of someone other than their parent or a foster/kinship carer are generally not eligible for CCS or ACCS. This includes children in:
- residential care
- group homes
- 24/7 Family Day Care.
These children should be enrolled under an arrangement with an organisation. They will not receive CCS or ACCS.
If you’re unsure
You may also choose to refer the family to a support agency in the meantime. We have more information about support agencies on our reporting obligations page.