About the approval process

You must be approved to operate a service and administer the Child Care Subsidy (CCS). You must be approved by the Australian Government and your state or territory government. This page outlines the approval process.

On this page:

What approvals are needed?

You need 2 types of approval to run a service that offers CCS. This is because the state and territory governments and the Australian Government have different roles.

You need approval from:

  • Your state or territory government. This deems you suitable to ensure the health, safety, wellbeing and educational outcomes of children.
  • The Australian Government. This deems you suitable to administer CCS.

State or territory government approval

You must first be approved by your state or territory government. This is known as National Law approval or state regulatory approval. Some providers refer to this as their licence.

This approval is granted by regulatory authorities in your state or territory.

State and territory governments decide if you are suitable to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of children. They also consider educational outcomes and development.

They do this through the National Quality Framework (NQF). The NQF provides a national approach to regulation, assessment and quality improvement. ACECQA is an independent national authority that helps regulatory authorities administer the NQF.

To get National Law approval, you must meet the requirements of the NQF.

In most cases, you cannot care for children unless you are approved under the National Law in your state or territory.

A small number of services may be out of scope of the National Law. These include:

  • In Home Care services
  • services funded under the Budget Based Funded program before July 2018
  • a small number of other specified services.

Out of scope services must be approved under applicable state and territory laws to operate and be eligible for CCS approval.

Your regulatory authority has more information on how to apply for National Law approval. Find your state or territory regulatory authority on the ACECQA website.

Australian Government approval

You must then be approved by the Australian Government to administer CCS payments. This is known as CCS approval or Family Assistance Law approval. 

Family Assistance Law sets out the rules you must follow if you get CCS. Learn more about your obligations under Family Assistance Law

We cannot grant CCS approval until you have your state or territory government approval. You must be approved under National Law first. It’s a condition of CCS approval. 

However, to save time, you can apply for both approvals at the same time.

Where do you apply?

You can apply for both approvals via the National Quality Agenda IT System

You do not need to wait for National Law approval to submit your CCS application. Your applications can be assessed by your state and territory government and the Australian Government at the same time. 

While your applications may be assessed at the same time, approval is granted separately. We cannot grant CCS approval until you have National Law approval.

How long does approval take?

Your state or territory regulatory authority can advise on National Law approval timeframes.

You should apply for CCS approval as early as possible before you start operating.

You should not expect to complete the application in one sitting. You’ll need to collate a range of information and evidence from various individuals and agencies. It’s likely to take you days or weeks to collate the information needed.

After submitting, CCS approval is not automatic. It can only be granted after we carefully assess your application.  

We cannot give an estimated assessment timeframe. However, there are things you can do to help us process your application quickly.

Understand the process

Complete an e-learning course about the approval process to ensure you have a good understanding of what is required before you apply.

Access e-learning via ACECQA’s website.

Do not assume approval will be granted

It’s up to you whether to operate before you know the outcome of your CCS application. Please understand the business and financial risks if you choose to operate before you’re approved

Operating before you’re approved for CCS

If we approve your application, we’ll only backdate CCS payments to the day you submitted your application, provided that this is on or after the start date of your National Law approval.

If we refuse your application, we won’t make any CCS payments.

If we refuse or cancel your application because you don’t meet fit and proper requirements, you must wait 18 months before reapplying. This is known as the application exclusion period.

Charging fees before you’re approved for CCS

We strongly recommend that you do not charge fees based on estimated CCS entitlements before you know the outcome of your application. You should also advise families that your service is not yet CCS approved.

Include all the mandatory information and documentation

We cannot assess incomplete applications. If your application is incomplete or inconsistent, we’ll ask for more information before we begin our assessment.

If you do not provide the information we ask for by the requested date, we may reject your application. You will need to reapply.

Ensure to identify all required individuals

Providers have specific legal obligations. These obligations are completed by certain people. We call these people ‘persons with management or control of the provider’.

They are also called ‘persons with management or control’ or simply ‘PMC’.

You must identify your PMCs to us – it’s the law.

You must also identify persons responsible for the day-to-day operation of a service. We call these people ‘persons responsible at the service’. They are nominated by a PMC.

Learn who are considered PMCs and persons responsible at the service and what their obligations are.

You cannot choose to omit someone if they meet the definition of a PMC or person responsible at the service. If any PMCs or persons responsible at the service are missing from your application, we’ll ask you to fix this before we can assess your application.

Ensure the legal entity seeking approval is clearly identified

Approval is granted to an entity, not an individual. We list the types of entities that can apply for approval on the next page.

You must correctly identify the entity in your application.

Be consistent

All information you give us, such as your legal entity name and ABN, must be consistent across:

  • your National Law approval
  • your CCS application
  • other official records like the ABN register.

If your details are not consistent, we can’t assess your application.

Respond promptly if we ask for more information

The assessment process is not automatic. It involves a robust and sometimes lengthy consideration of the evidence provided. We may need to ask you for clarification or additional evidence.

Next step

Read the provider and service eligibility rules