The Australian Government announced increased funding to target fraud and non-compliance against the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) and greater support for at-risk children under early childhood education and care (ECEC) measures in last night’s Budget.
Ahead of the Budget, the Government announced measures to address the challenges facing the ECEC workforce.
The Treasurer, the Hon Dr Jim Chalmers MP, announced the government would provide $22.2 million over 4 years to increase activities that reinforce and safeguard the CCS against fraud and non-compliance.
A total of $12.7 billion will be paid out in CCS next financial year. In last year’s Budget, the government allocated an additional $4.5 billion for the CCS, with the maximum subsidy for families increased to 90% from July this year.
The integrity measures announced in this Budget are expected to deliver net savings of $139.4 million over four years. The savings will come from preventing CCS payments going to non-compliant providers and fraudulent claims.
The integrity measures in this Budget are in addition to the CCS reforms integrity package in last year’s Budget and will capitalise on momentum from last year’s integrity package.
Improving access for at-risk children
The Government will also spend $2.8 million to simplify and streamline access to Additional Child Care Subsidy (ACCS) (child wellbeing) from October 2023.
ACCS provides extra help with fees for families facing barriers to ECEC. It provides additional support for children at risk of serious abuse or neglect.
The measure will:
- consolidate service delivery within Services Australia
- allow additional circumstances for extending backdating.
The changes will particularly benefit First Nations children and families.
ECEC workforce measures
Last week, the Government announced 3 budget measures to support the skills and training of those in the ECEC workforce. Funding for the measures totals $72.4 million, from 2023–24 to 2026–27.
The measures were:
- The professional development subsidy, which will help up to 75,000 qualified early childhood educators to gain additional training. This measure will cost $34.4 million.
- The paid practicum subsidy, which will help up to 6,000 early childhood teachers in training with paid placements to complete tertiary qualifications. This will cost $33.1 million.
- The practicum exchange, which will help up to 2,000 early childhood teachers in training to complete a professional exchange program to give them broader practical experience before qualification. This will cost $4.8 million.
First Nations services, and educators and services in regional and remote locations will be priorities next financial year for these workforce supports.