Stay-at-home-parents and the new Child Care Subsidy
Families with a stay-at-home parent can still receive assistance under the new Child Care Subsidy, if both parents do at least eight hours a fortnight of recognised activity, ensuring their children can get vital access to early learning services.
This activity can include study, training or volunteering; and it is the number of hours of activity that will determine how many hours of subsidised early learning a child receives.
Recognised activities include
Paid work: includes paid leave, paid or unpaid parental and maternity leave if this is a condition of employment, or being self-employed.
Study and training: includes being enrolled in an approved course of education or study, or being enrolled in training courses for the purpose of improving the individual's work skills or employment prospects.
Unpaid work: includes unpaid work in the family business which is owned by a member of the individual’s immediate family, actively setting up a business, or unpaid work experience or internships.
Actively looking for work: includes looking for jobs, preparing résumés and job applications, contacting potential employers, or preparing for and attending job interviews.
Setting up a business: includes obtaining finance, advice and support, attending and organising meetings and networking, developing business and marketing plans.
Volunteering: includes voluntary work to improve work skills or employment prospects, voluntary work for a charitable, welfare or community organisation, voluntary work for a school, preschool or a centre based day care service (if the work directly supports the learning and development of the children at the school, preschool or service e.g. reading to children). Note: Being on the Parents and Citizens Committee, working in the school canteen, or coaching children’s soccer team are considered parental duties and would not be considered as a recognised volunteer activity.
Goodstart Early Learning advocacy manager John Cherry said many families with a stay-at-home parent probably already engaged in many of the “approved activities” needed to receive the new Child Care Subsidy.
“The good news is, if you are a stay-at-home parent worried about the government’s activity test, you may not need to be, because you are probably already doing enough,” he said.
“If you have any concerns about whether you have enough ‘activity’ to quality for the Child Care Subsidy, you should contact your Centre Director who will support you to identify what this means for you,” he said.
Research by ORIMA commissioned by the Federal Government has found that most low income families clearly have enough activity to receive Child Care Subsidy, or were willing to do some.
“You only have to do eight hours of an approved activity a fortnight to be eligible for 36 hours of subsidised care for your child,” Mr Cherry said.
“And remember, activities are cumulative, so you can combine recognised activities and also count the time taken to travel to and from work, study or volunteering.”
Other activities that do not fall into the recognised activity categories will be assessed by the Government on a case-by-case basis. Families can contact Centrelink directly to find out if the activity is supported under the Child Care Subsidy.
The more activity you undertake – the more hours of subsidised care you may be able can claim
, however, some activities do not fall into the recognised activity categories so families can contact Centrelink directly for a case-by-case assessment.
If your family earns $66,958^ or less a year, and you do not meet the activity test, you will be able to access up to 24 hours of subsided care per child per fortnight.
Similarly, if your child is in the year before school and attending a preschool or kindergarten program in a long day care centre, you can access up to 36 hours of subsided care per child per fortnight.
Stay-at-home parents will have to report on their activity levels at least annually and should always keep records of their activity levels in case Centrelink wants to see them, Mr Cherry said.
“The new Child Care Subsidy provides the opportunity for more children to access affordable, quality early learning services,” he said.
The benefits of early learning are well documented and there is no doubt children thrive in high quality early learning.
We know children who attend early learning are a third less likely to start school with a developmental vulnerability, and those who had access to quality early learning benefit right through their school years.
You can try our simple subsidy estimator to see how your current payments will be impacted – click here to use the estimator.