On 7 December 2018 the Hon Dan Tehan MP, Minister for Education, announced the In Home Care (IHC) Family Hourly Rate Cap would increase to $32.00, effective 1 January 2019. The Minister also announced the number of IHC places would increase to 3200, also effective 1 January 2019.
The new program improves consistency in service delivery and provides more equitable distribution of places for child care delivered in the family home. The program is targeted at those families that need this care the most, with a focus on quality early childhood education and care provided by qualified educators.
To better support families, the IHC service type is delivered through a brokerage model of IHC Support Agencies that advocate for families, particularly those with complex and challenging circumstances, and help them find care that meets their needs. IHC Support Agencies are the primary conduit between families and services, while increasing assurance in the care type and supporting national consistency in program delivery.
IHC Support Agencies service families in each state and territory and distribute IHC places to Child Care Subsidy approved services. Up to 3000 places are available throughout Australia.
IHC Support Agencies can be contacted by families and services to discuss suitability for IHC and families' care needs.
Support was provided to families receiving IHC under the previous IHC program as they transitioned to the new service type or other suitable care arrangements.
The policy for IHC is based on the findings from the reviews of the previous In Home Care arrangements, the evaluation of the Nanny Pilot Programme, and feedback from families, services and other key stakeholders.
In Home Care National Guidelines
More information on the legislative and policy framework for the refined IHC program can be found in the In Home Care National Guidelines.
In Home Care Handbook
Guidance on how the IHC program operates can be found in the In Home Care Handbook .
IHC Service Webcast Information Session
The Department of Education and Training hosted an In Home Care Services Webcast Information Session on 22 May 2018 to help services understand what they need to do to ensure they and their families transition to the Child Care Subsidy and learn more about the IHC service type.
Frequently asked questions
What is happening with the Nanny Pilot Programme and IHC?
A new IHC service type has replaced the previous IHC and the Nanny Pilot Programme. The refined IHC is available under the Australian Government's new child care package.
The refined IHC is designed to better support families' workforce participation and early childhood education and care requirements. The new arrangements provide flexible early childhood education and care for families who can demonstrate that the other types of approved child care are not suitable or available and where:
- parents or carers are working non-standard or variable hours
- families are geographically isolated from other types of approved child care, particularly in rural or remote locations, and
- the family is experiencing challenging or complex situations and their needs cannot be met by other approved child care services.
Why is IHC changing?
Independent reviews of the previous IHC arrangements and the Nanny Pilot Programme were undertaken in 2016. These reviews, along with feedback from families, services and other key stakeholders, helped identify the changes the Government need to make to ensure that IHC remains available into the future to the families who need it most. The reviews found that changes are required to ensure that IHC is sustainable and can continue supporting families who depend on subsidies for early childhood education and care in the family home.
Departmental data showed around 40 per cent of the families accessing IHC were unaware of the fees services were charging because they were being fully subsidised by the Government. Fees ranged from $15 an hour to $108 an hour but the average fee was around $25 (when fully subsidised fees were excluded). Fee variability can be due to a range of factors, including a broader provision of services than the early childhood education and care that this subsidy funds/supports.
The refined IHC is targeted to children and families who need the care the most, focusing on early childhood education but ensuring that the program is affordable and sustainable.
What are the key elements of the IHC service type?
Key elements of the IHC service type include:
- a $25.48 family hourly rate cap (indexed annually)
- a renewed focus on early childhood education and care
- qualification requirement for educators – as a minimum, Certificate III in a relevant course
- 3,000 places capped nationally (above current utilisation)
- the introduction of IHC Support Agencies
- a maximum of five children to be cared for by an educator.
If I was accessing care under the previous IHC arrangements, will I continue to receive care under the new IHC arrangements from 2 July 2018?
The Government is committed to avoiding unnecessary disruption to families' care arrangements.
IHC is delivered through a network of IHC Support Agencies that advocate for families. The IHC Support Agencies are required to prioritise the assessment and allocation of places to previous IHC families. If these families are eligible for the Child Care Subsidy and meet the suitability requirements for IHC, they will transition to the new IHC service type.
Some previous IHC families may transition from IHC to other approved child care service types or other support services or a combination of both. The IHC Support Agencies will assess the needs of these families and refer them to appropriate care arrangements.
How will families be referred to the new IHC program?
Prior to 2 July, IHC Support Agencies made contact with previous IHC and Nanny Pilot families. New families who are interested in accessing IHC from 2 July 2018 should make contact with the IHC Support Agency for their state or territory.
What are the criteria for the refined IHC service type?
Subsidised care under the IHC program must be provided only for children of individuals eligible for the Child Care Subsidy who can demonstrate that other types of approved child care are not available or appropriate 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.
IHC Support Agencies will assess families against the IHC criteria to determine if they are suitable for IHC.
Can IHC be used for the supervision of distance education?
Families cannot receive IHC subsidies during the time a child is engaged in formal schooling, including for the purpose of supervising distance education. This is longstanding policy and remains with the introduction of the new child care package. Care provided while a child is completing homework does not constitute formal schooling.
Supervision of distance education may be provided in the family home by an IHC educator as a private arrangement between the family and the service, complementary to the provision of subsidised child care.
Will IHC support families in rural and remote areas and vulnerable and disadvantaged families?
The Government is committed to meeting the needs of Australian families who need access to care irrespective of where they live, and to remove barriers for vulnerable or disadvantaged children.
The refined IHC service type targets families most in need of this care type, and where other care types are not available or appropriate, particularly in rural and remote areas.
IHC Support Agencies will advocate for families and match them to services that have the capacity to provide care that meets the family's unique requirements, including educators who meet the qualification requirements for IHC.
Will I be able to access IHC if my child accesses the NDIS?
Families may be able to access IHC for children receiving funding through the NDIS, however sessions of IHC must have a focus on early childhood education and care.
What is the purpose of the Family Management Plan?
The purpose of a Family Management Plan is to:
- identify the family's unique circumstances and child care requirements
- identify if a family may be eligible for additional assistance through other relevant support programs
- develop a strategy to transition the family to other approved child care service types over time, where available and appropriate
The Family Management Plan will be agreed between the family and the IHC Support Agency and be a shared resource for use by the IHC Service and IHC educator to foster a common understanding of the family's requirements and what services they can expect to receive. The Family Management Plan will be reviewed quarterly.
Personal information included in the plan is protected by the Privacy Act 1988 to secure that information and only use it for the purpose of providing IHC. Families will be required to sign a privacy notice to authorise the Family Management Plan to be shared.
What subsidy will I receive for IHC?
The Child Care Subsidy for IHC is based on a family hourly rate cap of $25.48 per hour (indexed annually).
The percentage of the subsidy to which the family is entitled is based on the family's combined adjusted taxable income, and is up to 85 per cent of the actual fee charged or 85 per cent of the family hourly rate cap, whichever is lower. Families are required to pay the remainder of the fee.
The number of hours of subsidised care per fortnight to which a family is entitled is determined by the Child Care Subsidy activity test result. A family may require, and be eligible for up to 100 hours of subsidised care per fortnight.
Why is the family rate cap set at $25.48?
The IHC family hourly rate cap was set by the Government as part of the policy for the refined IHC and represents fee relief to families towards the cost of IHC, noting that the cost of the educator makes up the majority of costs associated with the delivery of IHC.
The family rate cap for IHC for 2018-19 is $25.48 and is subject to indexation in line with movements in the Consumer Price Index.
What subsidy will I receive if I am eligible for the Additional Child Care Subsidy?
The Additional Child Care Subsidy is a top up to the Child Care Subsidy, which provides additional fee assistance to families and children facing barriers in accessing affordable child care. The Additional Child Care Subsidy provides a subsidy equal to the actual fee charged, up to a maximum of 120 per cent of the family hourly rate cap, or $30.58, for vulnerable or disadvantaged families and children. Additional subsidised hours may also apply.
For example, a family on an income of $200,000 will be entitled to a subsidy of 50 per cent of the family hourly rate cap of $25.48 (i.e. $12.74 per hour). If the same family is eligible for the Additional Child Care Subsidy, they could be entitled to receive a subsidy equal to the actual fee charged up to 120 per cent of the family hourly rate cap (i.e. $30.58 per hour). This is a top up to $30.58, not an additional $30.58.
Where can I find more information about the Child Care Subsidy and Additional Child Care Subsidy?
- Information resources for families
- Information resources for providers
- Child Care Subsidy (DHS) or Child Care Subsidy (DET)
- Additional Child Care Subsidy (DHS) or Additional Child Care Subsidy (DET)
- Child Care Provider Handbook
- Guide to Additional Child Care Subsidy (child wellbeing)
How much Child Care Subsidy would a family receive if the children attend at different times?
Children in the same family may require IHC at different times. However, the Child Care Subsidy for IHC is payable at the family rate for each session of care where all children are eligible for the Child Care Subsidy.
What if one of the children in the session are not eligible for the Child Care Subsidy?
All children reported in an IHC session of care must meet the requirements for the Child Care Subsidy. If one child in the session does not meet the Child Care Subsidy eligibility requirements, then it is not a valid session of care, and no subsidy will be paid on behalf of the family.
For example, if one child is attending schooling for part of the day or is an older child (and therefore not eligible for the Child Care Subsidy), this child should not be recorded in the session of care. Services may need to consider reporting separate sessions to ensure only Child Care Subsidy eligible children are included in each session.
Can a family have two educators?
IHC can be used for a maximum of five children in one session of care, or four children preschool age or under. All children must be from the same family. If there are more than the maximum number of children requiring IHC, then a second educator may be engaged to provide care at the same time and the subsidy would be payable for an additional session of care at the family rate.
Why are places capped at 3,000?
IHC is targeted at those families that need this care the most and at the time they need it. The number of places available is capped at 3,000 which is above current usage and will ensure families only access the care type where no other child care options are available or appropriate.
Will the current allocation of places to services be changing significantly?
IHC Services are allocated the required number places to support families transitioning from the previous IHC who are eligible for the Child Care Subsidy and suitable for the refined IHC. IHC Support Agencies may recommend an allocation of additional places to IHC services to accommodate new families.
The department initially distributed places to states and territories based on utilisation as at 1 July 2018, with the aim of moving towards a target distribution (based on jurisdictional 0-5 year old population) within two years from implementation. Further information on the allocation of IHC places is available in the IHC Handbook.
How will the target distribution of IHC places be achieved?
The redistribution of IHC places across states and territories means places will be reduced in some jurisdictions, and increased in others.
Services providing IHC to families eligible for the Child Care Subsidy and suitable for IHC will be allocated IHC places. As a transitional arrangement, services providing IHC to families eligible for the Child Care Subsidy but not suitable for the refined IHC may be able to access IHC for a short time while they are supported to transition to other suitable approved child care or support services that meet their needs.
As families transition out of IHC, their places may be allocated to their services, to other services or distributed to other states and territories.
No family accessing care under the previous IHC who is eligible for the Child Care Subsidy and in need of IHC will lose their place due to the redistribution of places.
Will places be offered based purely on geographical location or are there other determining factors?
The IHC Support Agencies will recommend to the department the number of places to be allocated to IHC services. The priority will be the allocation of places for previous IHC families from 2 July.
For new families, places will be allocated to IHC services according to:
- the geographical location of the family home relative to the IHC service
- whether the IHC service has an educator which can cater to the care needs of the family
If a family approaches a service looking to access In Home Care, and the service refers the family to a Support Agency, will the Support Agency recommend places for that family to that same service?
IHC Support Agencies will recommend the allocation of places to IHC services which can cater to the care needs of the family. This may mean that if an IHC service refers a family, the Support Agency may match the family with another service that can better meet their needs.
Matching families with educators
Do families get to keep their present educator?
Families may be able to retain the services of previous educators provided the educator is engaged by an IHC service (approved for the Child Care Subsidy) and meets the requirements for IHC as outlined in the IHC National Guidelines. These include the qualification requirements for IHC.
Families will be able to discuss these arrangements with the IHC Support Agency.
Are families able to find their own educator?
There may be instances where a family finds an educator to provide IHC. To be able to provide subsidised IHC, the educator must be engaged by an IHC service and meet the requirements for IHC including qualification requirements. In such cases, the relevant IHC Support Agency may be able to assist the families by advocating their needs with the relevant IHC service(s).
Can IHC educators be family members?
IHC educators must not be a family member, and not provide care for relatives; including nieces, nephews, cousins and grandchildren and great grandchildren.
There is a restricted exemption for IHC educators providing IHC in very remote areas. Further information on this exemption is detailed in the IHC Handbook.
What are the educator qualification requirements for the refined IHC service type?
One of the key elements of the new IHC policy is a renewed focus on early childhood education and care. To ensure the quality of care and national consistency in service delivery, IHC educators are required to have, as a minimum, a Certificate III in a relevant course or provide documentary evidence that they are working towards such a qualification.
A transition period for IHC educators in rural and remote areas applies. Further information is detailed in the IHC National Guidelines.
What qualifications will be accepted for an IHC educator?
Qualifications acceptable for IHC include a Certificate III, Diploma or Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education and Care, or working towards one of these qualifications.
Although IHC is out-of-scope for the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care (NQF), the NQF-approved qualifications have been deemed acceptable qualifications for IHC educators in recognition that families and children should have access to the same, high quality of early childhood development and education and care opportunities, irrespective of the service type.
The qualifications approved under the NQF that are listed by the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) on their webpage: www.acecqa.gov.au/qualifications/nqf-approved are acceptable qualifications for IHC educators. The list includes early childhood teaching, diploma and Certificate III level qualifications approved under the NQF, including equivalent overseas qualifications. Services, educators and other individuals must use ACECQA's list of qualifications approved under the NQF to verify if a particular qualification is acceptable for IHC.
ACECQA also publishes a list of approved first aid, emergency asthma and anaphylaxis qualifications, which are also acceptable additional requirements for IHC educators. Mirroring the NQF qualification requirements for IHC helps ensure families have access to the same quality of care irrespective of the type of approved child care they receive.
In recognition that IHC educators may care for primary school aged children, the primary school teaching qualifications of educators registered with the state and territory education boards are also deemed as acceptable qualifications for IHC educators.
Will educators have a transitional period in which to commence a Certificate III?
All IHC educators are required to have a minimum Certificate III level qualification in a relevant course, or be working towards, a Certificate III qualification.
IHC educators who did not hold relevant qualifications as at 2 July 2018 were required to complete or at a minimum be enrolled in a relevant course by 2 July 2018, and commence study within a few months from 2 July. To continue to provide IHC, these educators need to provide documentary evidence from the course provider to the service indicating that the educator is making satisfactory progress towards completing the course and meeting the requirements to maintain the enrolment.
What are the transitional provisions for IHC educators working in rural and remote areas?
In recognition of the challenges for educators working in remote areas in meeting this requirement, transitional provisions have been introduced until 1 January 2020:
- An IHC educator providing services in a remote or a very remote area will meet the qualification requirements for IHC educators if the IHC educator has access to, and utilises the expertise of, an educator with at least a Certificate III in early childhood education and care for at least 20 per cent of the time care is provided to a family. This may be by means of information and communications technology (ICT).
- An educator, who has been continuously working in a remote or very remote area for at least 15 years is exempt from the qualification requirements until 1 January 2020.
Why are qualifications for educators necessary?
The reviews of the current IHC and Nanny Pilot programs recommended that the qualifications of educators be raised to improve and standardise the quality of care provided in the home, as well as to attract and retain quality educators by improving career pathways.
Stakeholder feedback also supported IHC educators holding qualifications due to the high responsibility placed upon educators working independently within a family environment.
Do IHC educators need to register on PRODA?
Yes. IHC educators must register for an individual PRODA account.
More information can be found at How to prepare for the New Child Care Package.
IHC Services and Support Agencies
What are the roles of IHC Services vs IHC Support Agencies?
IHC Support Agencies match suitable families to approved services (services approved for the Child Care Subsidy as IHC Services under the family assistance law), and recommend to the department the number of places to be allocated to each service. The department takes into account these recommendations in allocating IHC places to services.
IHC Services are responsible for the actual service delivery. Broadly, this involves engaging a qualified educator, undertaking home inspections, monitoring service delivery and undertaking Child Care Subsidy related activities such as submission of child care attendance records and making Additional Child Care Subsidy claims, where appropriate.
While the IHC Support Agencies provide general support and professional development opportunities to educators, IHC Services are responsible for their employment arrangements including verifying the necessary documentary evidence relating to qualifications and checks.
Who can become an IHC Service?
To be able to provide IHC, services will need to be approved for the Child Care Subsidy to provide IHC, and be operated by a provider approved under the family assistance law.
More information can be found at Becoming a Child Care Subsidy approved child care service.
How does a provider/service become an IHC Service?
IHC can only be provided by Approved Providers and Approved Services. Providers and services which were CCB approved under the previous In Home Care program are deemed to be approved for the Child Care Subsidy from 2 July 2018.
Providers that have been approved for the Child Care Subsidy to offer other types of approved child care and wishing to offer IHC must also obtain a separate service approval for IHC.
Further information for providers can be found on the department's website at New Child Care Package for providers.
Is there an operational subsidy available for IHC Services?
Services providing IHC will not receive an operational subsidy but may be able to claim some travel expenses for site visits. Reimbursement for travel costs to services is limited to only locations classified as Outer Regional, Remote and/or Very Remote. Travel costs will be reimbursed by the IHC Support Agency. Further details are provided in the IHC Handbook.
Will the Interim Standards be updated?
No, the Interim Standards for IHC do not apply from 2 July 2018. Requirements for providers of IHC services have been legislated through an amendment to the Child Care Subsidy Minister's Rules 2017; including quality requirements for IHC, serious incidents, educator to child ratios and the requirement that IHC educators must not be a family member.
The IHC National Guidelines provide information about the IHC program, including the criteria for accessing IHC, the Child Care Subsidy for IHC, transition of families to the refined IHC program, requirements for IHC educators and the delivery of the program through a network of IHC Support Agencies. The guidelines also further explain the requirements around the scope of IHC and the allocation of IHC places.
The IHC Handbook complements the Child Care Provider Handbook and provides operational policy guidance and procedures for the delivery of the IHC program. The Handbook also provides further information about the quality requirements for IHC services.
What is the role of the Transition Consultant?
The department appointed a Transition Consultant, PricewaterhouseCoopers, to contact previous IHC and Nanny Pilot Programme families to discuss their care needs, and assist them to transition to new care arrangements with the least possible disruption.
The Transition Consultant provided IHC Support Agencies with family profiles and Family Transition Plans where a family has complex care needs. They also identified possible referral pathways to other suitable services that may meet the family's needs. This included other approved child care types, disability support and maternal and child health services.
This information assisted IHC Support Agencies to develop Family Management Plans that identified the family's education and care needs. The Support Agencies then matched families to a suitable IHC service. Where appropriate the Support Agency suggested possible referral pathways to other family support services.
Will all previous IHC families transition to the refined IHC program?
Families eligible for the Child Care Subsidy and meeting the criteria for IHC will be transitioned to the refined IHC service type. Where appropriate, families will be referred to other approved child care service types and/or other government-funded or community based support services such as parental support and disability support.