Frequently Asked Questions

Child Care Options

What types of child care can I use?

When choosing an option for child care you can select from a range of services, including:

  • Long Day Care
  • Family Day Care
  • In Home Care
  • Outside School Hours Care
  • Occasional Care

You may also wish to use another carer, such as a nanny, friend or relative.

For more information, please visit the child care and early learning options page on this site.

What is the difference between Child Care Benefit approved and registered child care?

Child Care Benefit Approved child care is child care that has been approved by the Australian Government for Child Care Benefit purposes because it meets certain standards and requirements.

Registered child care is child care provided by grandparents or other relatives, friends or nannies who are registered with the Department of Human Services as registered child care providers.

Further details on these types of care can be found at the Child Care Benefit Approved Care and Registered Care pages of this site.

Will my child be given priority for child care services?

Where demand for child care is high, all approved services with the exception of Occasional Care must adhere to Priority of Access Guidelines to ensure there is a fair child care system.

The system ensures that, where there are vacancies or a waiting list for child care services, places are allocated to families with the greatest need for child care. These guidelines only apply to Child Care Benefit approved child care services with the exception of Occasional Care.

Every approved service with the exception of Occasional Care has to abide by the guidelines and tell you about them when you enrol your child into care.

Who can I contact if I have concerns about my child care service?

If you have concerns about your child care service provider, you should firstly raise these concerns directly with the service.

If you feel your concerns have not been addressed, you can contact your local state and territory Regulatory Authority. They will address and respond to your complaint or concerns.

Contact details for the Regulatory Authority in each state and territory are available on the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) website.

Finding and Choosing Child Care

How to choose a quality child care and early learning service?

When choosing the right child care arrangements for you and your family you should:

Have a clear picture of what you want for your child

  • What sort of social and cultural experiences do you want for your child while they are in care?
  • Would your child be happier in a smaller, more ‘home like’ environment or in a larger group, so that they can mix with more children?
  • If your child is approaching school age, would you prefer for them to be in care with children who they might be going to school with in the future?

Think about how formal care is going to fit into your child’s and your day

  • Does your child have siblings? Would you prefer to have them spend more time together and support one another in the same caring environment or do you want them to spend time independently, with children their own age?
  • Is it easier for you to have your child care and early learning service closer to your home, your place of work or perhaps an older sibling’s school?
  • Will you need formal care every day of the week or just occasionally on some days or for only a few hours? Can you mix-and-match formal care with other regular arrangements such as trusted friends or family members?

Speak with the director or educators before making a decision

  • Call your preferred child care and early learning service
  • Confirm places are available for the times and days you need
  • Arrange a visit to the service

Ask a variety of questions:

  • How will I know what activities my child has done that day?
  • What is the sleeping routine like in my child’s room?
  • How will my child’s heritage be incorporated in the education program?
  • How does the service reflect the community in which it is located?

Look at the indoor and outdoor areas of the service:

  • Is it clean and safe?
  • Is it welcoming?
  • Does it meet your child’s needs?
  • Meet the educators at the service and make sure you and your child feel comfortable interacting with them

More information on choosing a quality child care service can be found in the Child Care Fact Sheets.

How do I find a local child care and early learning service?

You may already know of child care services in your local area.

With the Find a Child Care Service and A-Z search function you can search for approved child care services such as Long Day Care, Family Day Care, In Home Care and Outside School Hours Care. You can also find a range of information about the child care services such as fees, services offered, vacancies, contact details and map locations.

We suggest contacting the service directly to confirm the service’s information including fees and vacancies and to arrange a time to visit the child care service to ensure it meets your needs.

Note: If you are eligible for CCB at zero rate or more you will be automatically assessed for CCR by the Department of Human Services (DHS).

How do I find the fees for different types of care?

Some child care services advise the department of their standard fees and these are displayed on MyChild website. To find the fees for services in your local area, please use the search options on this site.

You can search by care type and postcode or suburb, or alphabetically via our A-Z search page.

Why are child care fees different for each child care and early learning service?

The decision to charge a fee is a commercial decision made independently by the individual child care service provider. There are several factors that influence the child care fees charged by the child care and early learning services.

Every service is different and provides different levels of service. Some provide meals, nappies and educational activities while others don’t. Factors such as the location of the service also impact on the fees charged. All of these varying factors mean that not all services fees will be the same.

To find the child care service fees provided by the child care services, you can use the ‘Find a child care’ search facility available on the MyChild website.

Why do child care and early learning services charge fees on public holidays?

Many child care and early learning services charge for public holidays because child care workers, like most employees, are entitled to be paid for public holidays when they would otherwise be at work.

Charging practices are commercial decisions made by child care service providers and the Government has no legal capacity to intervene in these decisions.

Do child care and early learning services provide meals for children?

Many child care and early learning services offer meals throughout the day, including morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea. The types of meals will vary from service to service.

If a child care and early learning service does not offer meals, then families will need to provide their own.

When deciding on the type of care that is best for your child, there are a number of other questions you may want to ask. For more information on choosing the right child care and early learning service for your family visit the What are my child care options? page of this website.

How are the vacancies on the MyChild website updated?

Child care service providers are required to provide anticipated vacancy information to the Department of Education and Training every week.

Child care places are reported when a service can’t fill the vacancy from their waiting list.

The vacancy information displayed on the MyChild website comes directly from the vacancy information provided by the child care and early learning services. The vacancy information from the child care and early learning services are updated on the MyChild website four times a week.

How do I locate vacancies for child care and early learning services?

Child Care Benefit approved child care services provide their vacancy information on a weekly basis. The searchable database available on the MyChild website displays contact details and vacancy information for all Child Care Benefit approved services. You can find child care services by care type and postcode or suburb using the ‘Find a child care service' search facility, or alphabetically via our A-Z search page.

I live in rural/remote Australia. How can I access child care?

Sometimes, in areas such as rural and remote communities or disadvantaged areas, there may be few or even no services. The Government provides direct funding to around 330 different types of child care services throughout Australia.

Family Day Care is another option for families to consider. This provides flexible care and development activities in the safe, nurturing environment of the educator’s own home. Child Care Benefit (CCB) and Child Care Rebate (CCR) are available to eligible families who use Family Day Care.

In Home Care is also designed to meet the needs of those for whom other types of approved care are not suitable. Unlike other types of child care, only children who meet certain eligibility criteria can receive In Home Care, including children who live in a rural or remote area. If an In Home Care service determines that you meet the eligibility criteria, they provide an educator to care for your children in your own home.

Have a look at the MyChild website, which provides information on over 15,000 CCB approved services.

To locate In Home Care services or a Family Day Care scheme operating in your area, try the Child Care Search. For additional information see - What are my child care options?

You can type in your postcode or suburb and bring up a list and map of all services in the area. You can also contact the Child Care Access Hotline on 1800 670 305.

I am a shift worker, how can I find child care which meets my needs?

As centre based services generally operate within standard work hours (7 am - 6 pm) care for children outside these hours can be harder to locate.

Family Day Care offers more flexibility around hours of operation. This can make it more suitable for families not working standard hours. Family Day Care can provide overnight care, irregular or casual care and weekend care.

In Home Care is also designed to meet the needs of those for whom other types of approved care are not suitable. Unlike other types of child care, only children who meet certain eligibility criteria can receive In Home Care, including children who live in a rural or remote area. If an In Home Care service determines that you meet the eligibility criteria, they provide an educator to care for your children in your own home.

To locate In Home Care services or a Family Day Care scheme operating in your area, try the Child Care Search. For additional information see - What are my child care options?.

Child Care Fee Assistance

What assistance can I get to help pay for the cost of child care?

The Australian Government provides financial assistance to eligible families to help cover the cost of child care.

The main types of financial assistance families may be eligible for are:

Can I get the Child Care Rebate and how is it paid?

If you are eligible* to receive Child Care Benefit (CCB) (even at a zero rate), using approved child care and meeting the work, training, study test, you may be eligible to receive Child Care Rebate (CCR). More information on eligibility can be found on the MyChild website.

*On 12 April 2015, the Prime Minister, the Hon Tony Abbott MP and the Minister for Social Services, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, jointly announced that the Australian Government is reinforcing the importance of immunisation and protecting public health by strengthening the immunisation requirements for children. Under the No Jab No Pay legislation, from 1 January 2016, parents must ensure their children meet the immunisation requirements which now apply for all children up to the age of 19, in order to be eligible for Child Care Benefit, including for Registered Care. The changes means that a child must be fully immunised, or on a catch-up schedule or have a valid exemption in order to receive these payments.

Conscientious objection is no longer an exemption category, however it is important to note that children with a recognised medical exemption (verified by a General Practitioner) such as medical contraindication, natural immunity or participation in a recognised vaccine study will continue to be exempt from the requirements.

CCR is NOT income tested and pays up to 50 per cent of your out of pocket expenses up to a limit of $7500 per child per year.

There are four ways to receive your CCR:

  1. Paid fortnightly to your child care service as a fee reduction
  2. Fortnightly payment to your bank account
  3. Quarterly payment to your bank account
  4. Annual payment to your bank account (only available if you receive CCB as an annual lump sum payment)

Specific conditions apply regarding the payment of CCR if you receive CCB. More information can be found in the Child Care Fact Sheets.

Can I get Child Care Benefit?

As Child Care Benefit is income tested, it is hard to answer yes or no to this question, without knowing your specific circumstances.

The Department of Human Services has an Online Estimator which can estimate, based on your specific details, the benefit you could receive. This tool also provides information on eligibility criteria for Child Care Benefit (CCB).

For a family with one child the combined family income needs to be less than $152,147 to receive CCB. If your combined income is more than this you may still be eligible for Child Care Rebate (as the rebate is not income tested). To receive the Child Care Rebate you must apply and be assessed as eligible for CCB (even if your entitlement for CCB is zero due to your income).

More information can be found on the What are my child care options? page on the MyChild website or contact the Department of Human Services.

My family is eligible for the Child Care Benefit. How many hours can I claim?

The maximum number of hours you can claim for the Child Care Benefit (CCB) depends on your circumstances. The Department of Human Services has an Online Estimator which can estimate, based on your specific details, the benefit you could receive.

For 2015-2016, the maximum standard hourly rate of Child Care Benefit for one non-school aged child in approved child care up to 50 hours per week is $4.17, or $208.50 per week if your income is $43,727 or less. Payment rates for school-aged children are 85 per cent of the non-school-aged rate.

You can claim up to 24 hours of care per child per week, unless you and your partner meet the work, training, study test for CCB. If you meet the work, training, study test of 15 hours a week or 30 hours a fortnight, or are exempt from it, you can get up to 50 hours of care per child per week.

More information can be found in the Child Care Fact Sheets.

How do I apply for the Child Care Benefit (CCB) and Child Care Rebate (CCR)?

You can apply for the Child Care Benefit (CCB) in person or online through the Department of Human Services. To apply online, visit the Department of Human Services website. They will process your application and assess your eligibility for CCB.

You may notice that sometimes to ‘apply’ is also called ‘make a claim’. There is no need for you to apply for the Child Care Rebate (CCR) as there is no separate application or claim form for CCR. The Department of Human Services will automatically assess your eligibility for the rebate once you have applied for CCB. If your income is too high for CCB, you may still be able to receive CCR. The Child Care Benefit is based on family income, whereas the Child Care Rebate is not income tested.

You and your child will receive a Customer Reference Number (CRN) as soon as a record is created by the Department of Human Services. These numbers are important and will need to be given to your child care provider to ensure that CCB is applied to your child care service account.

How do I claim a lump sum payment?

If you have now identified that you are eligible for Child Care Benefit but have not received it, you can claim by lodging a Claim for Approved Child Care payments as an annual lump sum payment form with the Department of Human Services for the appropriate financial year:

Families now have one year instead of two years to lodge lump sum claims for Child Care Benefit. This means to lodge a claim for 2013-2014 you have until 30 June 2015. Extensions to the one year period may be provided in special circumstances.

You must be assessed as eligible for Child Care Benefit (even at the zero rate due to your family’s income) to get the Child Care Rebate.

How much Child Care Benefit or Child Care Rebate will I get?

The amount of Child Care Benefit (CCB) or Child Care Rebate (CCR) you receive will depend on your circumstances.

The Department of Human Services website provides Online Estimators which allows you to estimate payments, based on your current or proposed circumstances.

You can use the Rate Estimator to get an estimate of how much financial assistance you could receive from the Australian Government for the cost of child care. It provides an estimated dollar value of CCB and CCR entitlements, as well as out-of-pocket child care costs.

To use the Child Care Estimator, you will need to know:

  • the type of CCB approved child care being used, including session (e.g. daily or hourly rate)
  • your child care fees
  • your estimated annual income

Information about child care fees can be obtained from a CCB approved child care service, or by using the child care search facility on this website. You can make a guess about what you think these costs may be, although this will affect the accuracy of the final estimate of your entitlements and out-of-pocket costs.

Is Outside School Hours Care covered by Child Care Benefit (CCB) and Child Care Rebate (CCR)?

Yes, you may be eligible for CCB and CCR for primary school aged children, when using a CCB approved service.

To receive CCB and CCR you must ensure that you apply for CCB through the Department of Human Services. Even if your entitlement for CCB is zero due to your income*, you may still be eligible to receive CCR. CCR pays 50 per cent of your out-of-pocket expenses for child care up to the annual cap of $7,500 per child per year.

See What are my child care options? for further information regarding Outside School Hours Care. See fee assistance for further information on income eligibility.

*Note: If you are eligible for CCB at zero rate or more you will be automatically assessed for CCR by the Department of Human Services.

Are preschools eligible for Child Care Benefit or Child Care Rebate?

Depending on how your child’s preschool is regulated, you may be eligible for Child Care Benefit (CCB).

Preschools are often also referred to as kindergartens and are located at school sites, private preschool services, Long Day Care services or local community venues.

Some Child Care Benefit approved Long Day Care services offer a preschool program in addition to Long Day Care. If your service offers this then you may be able to claim CCB. Please check with your preschool provider about eligibility for financial assistance.

Is after school care covered by Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate?

If your child attends after school care (or Outside School Hours Care) you may be able to receive Child Care Benefit (CCB).

In both cases above, for preschools and for after school care, you may be able to get the Child Care Rebate (CCR) if you have:

  • used CCB approved child care
  • been eligible for CCB (entitled at a rate of zero or more)
  • passed the work, training, study test at some time during a week or have an exemption. No minimum number of hours is required.

What is CCB approved child care?

There are several types of CCB approved child care and some families use more than one. CCB approved child care covers child care services approved by the Government because they meet certain quality standards and operating requirements. These services include:

  • Long Day Care
  • Family Day Care
  • Outside School Hours Care (including before and after school and during school holidays)
  • Occasional Care
  • In Home Care

To find out if your child care service is CCB approved, use the child care search facility on this website or call the Child Care Access Hotline on 1800 670 305.

How can I estimate my child care costs and payments?

The Child Care Estimator is a tool that gives families and carers an estimate of how much financial assistance they could receive from the Australian Government for the cost of child care. It provides an estimated dollar value of Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate entitlements, as well as out-of-pocket child care costs.

To estimate your costs please, visit the Child Care Estimator.

I am on income support while looking for work, studying, starting a job. Is there any extra help I can get with my child care costs?

If you are on an eligible income support payment, you may be able to receive the Jobs, Education and Training (JET) Child Care Fee Assistance.

JET Child Care Fee Assistance provides extra help with approved child care costs for parents on income support while looking for work, studying or starting a job.

This payment can help meet the cost of child care by paying some of the “gap fee” – that is, the difference between the full amount you are charged and the amount you receive for Child Care Benefit (CCB) – while you participate in work, study or training activities.

You may wish to have a look at the information on JET Child Care Fee Assistance on this website. To find more detailed information about JET Child Care Fee Assistance, please visit the Department of Human Services website or call 136 150.

I am a grandparent with primary care of a grandchild. Can I get the Child Care Benefit?

Grandparents who have the primary responsibility for raising and caring for a grandchild may be entitled to additional assistance with the costs of Child Care Benefit approved child care.

The work, training study test is waived for eligible grandparents who have the primary care of their grandchildren. This enables grandparent carers to access up to 50 hours of Child Care Benefit for each child in approved care each week.

Who is eligible for the waiver of the work, training study test?

To be eligible for the waiver, a grandparent must be:

  • the natural, adoptive, or step grandparent of the child. Great-grandparents who are looking after grandchildren are eligible in the same way as grandparents; or
  • the current or former partner of a grandparent if they are the primary carer of the grandchild; and
  • the primary provider of ongoing daily care for the grandchild; and
  • have substantial autonomy for the day-to-day decisions about the child's care, welfare and development; and
  • meet existing eligibility requirements for Child Care Benefit approved care.

What is Grandparent Child Care Benefit (GCCB)?

To assist grandparents with the costs of child care, Grandparent Child Care Benefit (GCCB) is available to eligible grandparents caring for their grandchild and who are in receipt of an Income Support Payment. GCCB covers the full cost of child care for up to 50 hours for each child in Child Care Benefit approved care each week. In certain circumstances you may be able to get GCCB for more than 50 hours per week.

Who is eligible for GCCB?

To be eligible for GCCB, a grandparent must:

  • meets the existing Child Care Benefit eligibility requirements
  • receives an income support payment from Department of Human Services or the Department of Veterans' Affairs
  • be the primary provider of the ongoing daily care for their grandchild and has the responsibility for the day-to-day decisions about their grandchild's care, welfare and development.

GCCB is only available to grandparents who claim Child Care Benefit (CCB) as reduced fees, and cannot be claimed as a lump sum payment. To apply for the waiver of the work, training and study test and/or GCCB, grandparents need to contact the Department of Human Services. Grandparents who are providing child care for their grandchildren, but are not the primary carers, are not eligible for GCCB or the waiver of the work, training and study test. As a grandparent you may wish to consider becoming a Registered Carer if you charge a fee for the child care provided.

For information about becoming a Registered Carer please visit the Department of Human Services website or call 136 150.

Is there any extra assistance for my child with additional needs?

If your child has disability or is from a culturally and linguistically diverse, humanitarian intervention, refugee or Indigenous background, your child care service may be eligible for extra assistance through the Inclusion Support Programe.

National Quality Standard

Why do we need a National Quality Standard?

The National Quality Standard provides an Australia wide rating system to give services and families a better understanding of quality service.

Based on research that has shown how high quality education and care contributes to positive outcomes for children, the National Quality Standard was developed to achieve best practice.

With connection to national learning frameworks ‘Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (Early Years Learning Framework)’ and ‘My Time, Our Place: Framework for School Age Care in Australia (Framework for School Aged Care)’, the National Quality Standard recognises children learn from birth and outline practices to support and promote children’s learning.

How does the National Quality Standard rating system work?

Services are rated across seven quality areas. These are:

  • QA1 - Educational program and practice
  • QA2 - Children’s health and safety
  • QA3 - Physical environment
  • QA4 - Staffing arrangements
  • QA5 - Relationships with children
  • QA6 - Collaborative partnerships with families and communities
  • QA7 - Leadership and service management

Services are assessed on a number of standards and associated elements under each quality area. Scores from each quality area are combined to give the service a rating in one of the following categories:

  • Exceeding National Quality Standard - Indicates that a service is exceeding the National Quality Standard
  • Meeting National Quality Standard - Indicates that a service is meeting the National Quality Standard
  • Working Towards National Quality Standard - Indicates that a service is working towards meeting the National Quality Standard
  • Significant Improvement Required - Indicates that a service is not meeting the National Quality Standard and the regulator is working closely with the service to immediately improve its quality (otherwise the service’s approval to operate will be withdrawn)

The Excellent rating is awarded through a separate process.

Parents and services should not be worried if a service has been assessed as ‘Working Towards National Quality Standard’. The rating of ‘Working Towards’ is an important part of the successful transition to new and higher standards, and does not mean children’s health and safety is compromised.

Further information on the assessment and rating process, including information on how the ratings are determined, can be found on the ACECQA website Assessment and Rating Resources page.

When did the assessment and rating of services commence?

The assessment and rating of services commenced on 1 January 2012 with services being required to develop a Quality Improvement Plan. Assessment and rating visits to services commenced in mid-2012.

How often are services assessed?

Services are re-assessed according to their rating; high achieving services are rated less frequently than services requiring improvement. Services can continually improve their practices, which may increase their overall rating outside of a rating cycle.

Can I access previous Rating History issued by the NCAC?

The Child Care Quality Assurance Systems, for Long Day Care Services, Family Day Care Schemes and Outside School Hours Care Services, that were administered by the National Childcare Accreditation Council (NCAC) ceased to operate on 31 December 2011. The CCQA systems were replaced with the National Quality Framework which commenced on 1 January 2012.

NCAC rating history will only be displayed on MyChild for those services that have held an accreditation rating in the past but not been issued a rating through the NQF assessment and rating process. More detail on the NCAC rating process and descriptions can be found at the following MyChild page: Child Care Quality Assurance Accreditation Status.

Does the rating system apply to new services?

On being granted a service approval, new or transitioning services will be rated as ‘Provisional – Not Yet Assessed Under the National Quality Framework’. This rating will remain in place until their first assessment is completed and a rating awarded.

How do I lodge a complaint about my child’s service?

Please contact the Regulatory Authority in your state or territory. Contact details can be found on the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority Regulatory Authorities page.

Where can I find more information about the National Quality Framework and National Quality Standards?

Information about the National Quality Framework and National Quality Standard is available on the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority website.

The rating for my service is not displayed on MyChild?

If your service’s ratings are not displayed please email MyChild detailing: Service Name, Service Address, CCB ID, NQA Approval Number and date of issue.

The rating for my service is not correct on MyChild?

Please email MyChild detailing: Service Name, Service Address, CCB ID, NQA Approval Number and date of issue.

Preschool or kindergarten

What is a preschool or kindergarten program?

A preschool or kindergarten program is a structured, play based learning program, delivered by a qualified teacher in the year or two before commencing full time schooling. The program may be delivered in standalone preschools or kindergartens as well as preschools or kindergartens that are part of a school. These services may be located at private preschool centres, long day care centres or local community venues, co-located with a school or may be integrated as part of a school.

How do I update my preschool or kindergarten's information published on MyChild?

Services can update their preschool’s or kindergarten's information either using the National Quality Agenda (NQA) IT System or by downloading and completing a ‘SA12 - Notice of Change to Information About an Approved Service' form available on the Australian Children's Education & Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) website.

Where is the National Quality Framework (NQF) rating information for my preschool or kindergarten displayed?

The National Quality Framework (NQF) rating for your preschool or kindergarten is displayed on the National Register on the ACECQA and MyChild websites.

The rating for my preschool or kindergarten is not displayed on MyChild?

The preschool or kindergarten information available on MyChild includes state-run and standalone preschools or kindergartens in NSW, Vic, Qld, SA, NT and the ACT. If your service is located in one of these states or territories and does not appear on the MyChild website please email mychild@education.gov.au and provide your service name, address, Child Care Benefit Approval ID, Service Approval Number.

The rating for my preschool or kindergarten is not correctly displayed on MyChild?

Please email mychild@education.gov.au and provide your service name, address, Child Care Benefit Approval ID, Service Approval Number.

My Long Day Care service which delivers a preschool or kindergarten program is not listed on MyChild preschool or kindergarten search?

Preschool or kindergarten information available on MyChild includes state-run and standalone preschools or kindergartens in NSW, Vic, Qld, SA, NT and the ACT. Child Care Benefit approved Long Day Care services that provide kindergarten or preschool programs are displayed on MyChild and can be accessed using the ‘Find a Child Care Service’ search facility.

How can I find vacancy or fee information for preschool or kindergarten services?

Please contact the preschool or kindergarten service directly for enquires regarding vacancy or fee information.

Where can I find more preschool or kindergarten program information in my state or territory?

To find more information regarding preschool or kindergarten programs in your state or territory, please contact the Department of Education and Training in your state and territory or contact your local council or community organisation within your area.

Where can I find more information on preschool or kindergarten rating information?

Information about the National Quality Framework and National Quality Standard is available on the ACECQA website. You may also contact the regulatory authority in your state or territory. Regulatory Authorities administer the NQF and their contact details can be found on the ACECQA website Regulatory Authorities page.

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