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FAQs - Return to the Child Care Subsidy System

Please note that when the term 'service' is used in these FAQs this is a reference to the approved family day care service (or scheme) not an educator.

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General FAQs | Transition Payments | Activity Test | Fees | Attendance/Enrolments | Preparing for transition – providers and services | Preparing for transition – families

‍General FAQs

When will the Child Care Subsidy System (CCSS) return?

‍The CCSS returned on 13 July 2020, together with some new transition measures that aim to support the sector and families as they move back to the subsidy.

With the return of the CCSS, all requirements of Family Assistance Law will again be in place.


What arrangements will be in place when the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package ends?

JobKeeper ceased from 20 July 2020 for employees of a CCS approved service and for sole traders operating a child care service. All approved early childhood education and care services will receive a Transition Payment, in lieu of JobKeeper, for the period 13 July 2020 to 27 September 2020.

In addition, families who have had their hours of activity reduced as a result of COVID-19, will be able to advise Services Australia they meet the requirements to access 100 hours per fortnight for up to 12 weeks.

This can be done through their Centrelink online account through myGov or the Express Plus Centrelink mobile app from 13 July 2020.

From 13 July 2020, all requirements of Family Assistance Law apply.


Will services and educators be eligible for JobKeeper when the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package ends? 

JobKeeper ceased from 20 July 2020 for employees of a CCS approved service and for sole traders operating a child care service. All approved early childhood education and care services will receive a Transition Payment, in lieu of JobKeeper, for the period 13 July 2020 to 27 September 2020.

However, services can reject or withdraw from the Transition Payment to allow otherwise eligible educators to claim JobKeeper.


When will the measures in the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package cease?

‍The following components of the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package are no longer, or will no longer be, in effect as of the following dates:

  • applications for Exceptional Circumstance Supplementary Payments cease on 20 July 2020
  • Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package payments cease on 12 July 2020
  • the 62 initial absence days per child cease on 30 June 2020. There will be 42 initial absence days in 2020/21 Financial Year
  • providers are not required to take reasonable steps to recover gap fees from families - ceases on 30 June 2020.
  • additional absence days to be claimed for COVID-19 related reasons without the need for medical evidence - ceases on 31 December 2020.


What if our early childhood education and care service is required to close due to COVID-19, or a flood, fire or other local emergency?

‍CCS payments will recommence from 13 July 2020. Services directed to shutdown due to COVID-19, or a flood, fire or other local emergency should follow standard processes for activating a period of local emergency. Activating a period of local emergency will allow families access to additional absences where children have already used their initial allowance of 42 absence days per child, per financial year.

Each state and territory has its own rules around when and how communities should protect themselves during a local emergency.

For COVID-19 related closures,direction to close may come from the health department, but it may come from the state regulatory authority.

You must report your service closure and re-opening in a timely manner, clearly stating the reason for the closure to the following authorities within 24 hours to:

  1. Your state or territory regulatory authority AND
  2. The Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and     Employment in your state or territory (contact details below).

Contact details for state and territory offices of the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment:

Transition Payments

What are the new Transition Payments?

‍Transition Payments are up to 25 per cent of services’ fee revenue or the existing hourly rate cap, whichever is lower, in the relevant reference period. This is the same reference period (for the majority of services, the fortnight up to 2 March 2020) that has been used during the Relief Package. We are currently seeking further information from the Department on details around the Transition Payment process as it applies to the family day care sector and will update when we have further information.


Who will receive the Transition Payment?

‍All approved providers who received CCS previously will receive the Transition Payment, including services operated by state and territory government as well as local government authorities (local councils).

Services who took up the Transition Payment are responsible for the administration of the payment, including decisions on how to apply payment amounts across their business. This is not determined by FDCA or DESE but is an individual business decision.

However, the Employment Guarantee reflects the Department’s and the community’s expectation that services will look after their employees and their educators.


Are there any additional conditions on the Transition Payments?

‍Conditions of receiving the Transition Payments include that services do not receive Job Keeper from 20 July 2020 (the beginning of the JobKeeper fortnight) and must maintain the same fees charged during the relevant reference period. Services must also maintain the same average number of employees. FDCA is seeking more detail on how these requirements will work in the context of the family day care model and will update as soon as we have further information.

Activity Test

Who is eligible under the new activity test requirements?

From 13 July 2020 until 4 October 2020, individuals who can no longer engage in the same number of hours of work, training, study or other activity recognised by the CCS activity test immediately prior to the COVID-19 crisis, can advise Services Australia they meet the requirements to access 100 hours of subsidised child care per fortnight for up to 12 weeks.

This can be done through their Centrelink online account through myGov or the Express Plus Centrelink mobile app. 


‍Fees

Can I waive gap fees if a child is absent after Relief Package payments cease?

‍A key principle and requirement under Family Assistance Law is that all parents who receive CCS should make a co-contribution to their child care fees. The co-contribution (or gap fee) is the total of the fees the parent is liable to pay for sessions of care minus the amount of CCS paid in respect of those fees and sessions.

With CCS payments recommencing from 13 July 2020, providers are obliged to recover gap fees as usual unless they are an eligible service in Victoria entitled to gap fee waivers under the COVID-19 allowance.


If a service receives the Transition Payments can I increase administrative fees? E.g. bonds, or late fees?

‍A condition of receiving the Transition Payments is that services must maintain the same fees charged during the relevant reference period. The intent of this restriction is to support both child care service viability and help families access quality child care without the burden of fee increases while they are increasing their workforce participation activities after the COVID-19 crisis.

Additionally, services receiving the Transition Payments should not be changing their service offering and/or increasing or adding new administrative fees.

The usual service offering generally includes consumable items such as meals, wipes, or art supplies as part of the cost of providing a session of care. For example, if nappies were included as part of the session fee your service usually provided, nappies should continue to be provided without any extra cost to families.

Some services also charge administrative fees. These fees do not form part of the session of care fee that a family’s CCS was calculated on, meaning that services can continue to charge administrative fees, for example, late pick-up fees. However, services are not to increase these fees while receiving the Transition Payments or add new ones that were not listed in a family’s Complying Written Agreement.


If a service receives the Transition Payments can I increase the fees for children attending under an Organisational Agreement or Relevant Agreement?

‍No. As a condition of receiving the Transition Payments, services must maintain the same fees charged during the relevant reference period, until 27 September 2020.

No other Child Care Subsidy activity test requirements have been changed, however, the more hours of recognised activity families do, the more hours of subsidised care they can access, up to a maximum of 100 hours per fortnight for each child.


What is the CCS hourly rate cap for the 2020-21 financial year?

‍The hourly rate caps are the maximum hourly rate used to calculate families’ CCS for each service type. The hourly rate caps are adjusted annually in accordance with CPI.

From 13 July 2020, the CCS hourly rate cap is $12.20 for CBDC; $11.30 for FDC; $33.17 for IHC and $10.67 for OSHC. More information is available here.

Attendance, Enrolments and Absences

When do services commence submission of session reports?

The ability to submit session reports through to the Child Care Subsidy System recommenced from 13 July 2020. Session reports cannot be submitted to the Child Care Subsidy System for the period 6 May 2020 to 12 July 2020, including after 12 July 2020.


What if I need to amend a session report for a session of care prior to 6 May 2020?

‍As of 13 July 2020 providers can submit or amend session reports for periods prior to 6 April 2020.

Session reports will not be able to be submitted to the Child Care Subsidy System (CCSS) for the period 6 May 2020 to 12 July 2020, however services are expected to keep attendance records for this period.

The Relief Package payments will be quarantined from the reconciliation process and will not be subject to parents’ end of year balancing or be counted under the amount of CCS paid to the provider.

 

What is the child care absence policy in response to COVID-19?

Until 31 December 2020, CCS can be paid for additional absences for COVID-19 related reasons without the need for medical evidence. Families can only access additional absences where children have already used their initial allowance of 42 absence days per child, per financial year.

Until 31 December 2020, a service may waive a families’ out-of-pocket fees while a service is closed as a result of a public health directive.

Until 31 December 2020, services open and located in an area of Stage 3 or higher – stay at home’ restrictions in Victoria are able to waive families’ out-of-pocket fees where a child is not attending due to COVID-19 and an absence is recorded.

All Victorian families (as a result of Stage 3 and Stage 4 restrictions) will receive an additional 30 days, or six full weeks, of allowable absences from child care in the 2020-21 financial year. By increasing the number of allowable absence days, the Government can continue to pay its contribution to services through the CCS. This will guarantee revenue to child care services through the Government’s CCS contribution even where children are not attending or are not permitted to attend care.

From 13 July 2020, families can receive CCS for absences up to seven days before a child’s first, and after a child’s last physical attendance at a service, where they have been booked in for care, for any of the following reasons:

  • any of the additional absence reasons
  • the child, the individual who cares for the child, the individual’s partner or another person with whom the child lives is ill (no medical certificate required if the child has not used 42 absence days)
  • the service has changed ownership
  • the usual service is closed and the child is attending a different service under the same provider
  • a family tragedy (a major event including the death of an immediate family member) has occurred, or
  • the enrolment ceased incorrectly.

Absences were not counted during the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package period (from 6 April to 12 July 2020) as providers were not required to submit session reports.

Preparing for transition – providers and services

What do providers need to do to prepare for these changes?

Providers should ensure that enrolment information is up to date prior to 13 July 2020.  Further advice to services to prepare to return to the CCS system will be sent out shortly by DESE.

How should services prepare families for these changes?

Services should encourage families to check their details are up to date in their Centrelink online account through myGov or the Express Plus Centrelink mobile app. This includes their family income estimate for 2020-21.

The process for families to enroll their child in a child care service has not changed with the introduction of the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package payments. Families have been encouraged to continue any new claims for CCS during this period. New enrolments should be reviewed and confirmed by families via their Centrelink online account, to ensure that they are CCS eligible prior to 13 July 2020.

Preparing for transition – families

What do families need to do for their CCS to start again?

Families who were getting CCS before 6 May 2020, won't need to do anything as long as they have remained eligible. Their CCS will start again automatically on 13 July 2020.

Families should check their details, like their family income estimate for 2020-21, to make sure they're up to date.

If families are new to child care they should look into CCS now and claim as soon as possible. If families continue using child care from 13 July 2020 but aren't receiving CCS, they'll need to pay full fees.

Families who got CCS in 2018-19 and still haven't confirmed their income for that financial year must do so by 30 June 2020. If they don't, their CCS will not start again on 13 July 2020.

How much CCS can a family get?

How much CCS a family can get is based on their individual circumstances. You can find information about eligibility and how much CCS families can get on the Services Australia website.

How can eligible families get the 100 hours activity test result?

‍From 13 July 2020 until 4 October 2020, individuals who can no longer engage in the same number of hours of work, training, study or other activity recognised by the CCS activity test prior to the COVID-19 crisis, are entitled to an activity test result of 100 hours of subsidised child care per fortnight. These cohorts include:

  • Individuals who are doing less recognised activity than they were immediately prior to COVID-19
  • Individuals who are a member of a couple who are doing less recognised activity than they were immediately prior to COVID-19
  • Individuals in receipt of carers allowance who have reduced any other recognised activity than what they were engaged in immediately prior to COVID-19.

Families can advise Services Australia they meet these requirements to access the 100 hours. This can be done through their Centrelink online account through myGov or the Express Plus Centrelink mobile app.

No other CCS activity test requirements have been changed, however, the more hours of recognised activity families do, the more hours of subsidised care they can access, up to a maximum of 100 hours per fortnight for each child.

This result will not be backdated more than 28 days.

Further information for families about the specifics of accessing the 100 hours child care subsidy is available at the DESE FAQs page.