To inform child protection workers of Australian Government assistance available for the payment of child care fees and the process for accessing this assistance for children in the care of the CEO.
Note: CEO refers to the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Communities (the Department).
For information about Child Care Subsidy (CCS) and Additional Child Care Subsidy (ACCS) (child wellbeing) for children not in care but considered at risk, refer to Chapter 1.2.5 Intensive Family Support and Chapter 1.2.3 Establishment payment to informal relative carers for Additional Child Care Subsidy (grandparent).
The Australian Government introduced changes to Child Care Services which took effect on 2 July 2018. The Child Care Subsidy (CCS) has replaced Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate.
The Additional Child Care Subsidy (ACCS) (child wellbeing) provides additional fee assistance on top of the CCS to support vulnerable or disadvantaged families and children. The ACCS (child wellbeing) applies to both children in care and those who are not in care but considered 'at risk'. The CCS and ACCS (child wellbeing) is paid directly to child care providers.
Full information for child care providers and services involved in the administration of CCS and ACCS (child wellbeing) can be found in the Guide to Additional Child Care Subsidy (child wellbeing) and on the Australian Government Department of Education and Training website.
Foster or family carers must apply for the CCS before a child in care attends child care. An application for CCS must be made before ACCS (child wellbeing) is paid. You should assist the carer with the CCS application process. The information sheet on child care in related resources should be given to and discussed with carers.
Regardless of whether the foster or family carer is eligible for CCS or not, the Additional Child Care Subsidy (child wellbeing) will apply as the Australian Government Child Care Subsidy Minister's Rules 2017 Section 10 supports payment of ACCS (child wellbeing):
"(h) where the child is a resident of Western Australia at the time the session of care is provided – the child is in need of protection under the Children and Community Services Act 2004 (WA)".
This means that children in provisional protection and care and on a protection order (time-limited) or a protection order (until 18) in a foster or family care arrangement is eligible for ACCS (child wellbeing).
The child can only be enrolled with a CCS approved child care provider service to get this assistance. In most cases the ACCS (child wellbeing) will cover the full cost of child care. Where the fee charged by the child care provider is higher than the ACCS (child wellbeing) hourly rate cap, the Department can arrange to pay any difference directly to the child care provider.
If a child in the CEO's care resides in a Department residential facility, the Department is liable to pay all fees for child care.
If the child is in a family group home managed by a community sector organisation (CSO), in most cases the carers are employed by the CSO and will not be able to claim the CCS/ACCS (child wellbeing). However, in some instances the CSO carer may be a volunteer. You must check with the CSO to confirm if the carer is an employee or volunteer.
If the carer is a volunteer the CCS and ACCS (child wellbeing) will apply. You should work with the CSO to support the carer to apply for CCS.
You must establish the need for child care in consultation with the foster or family carer. You must consider a range of factors, including any potential undesirable impacts on the child through prolonged separation from the foster or family carer.
If the child is to attend child care the foster or family carer must apply for the CCS through myGov.
The CCS is the main payment to assist families with the costs of child care.
There are a number of steps required to enroll a child in care in child care that involve the carer, child protection worker, child care provider and Centrelink. Child protection workers should assist carers as part of the enrolment process.
If child care is approved by the district director, you must discuss child care with the carer, find an approved child care provider, and complete the child care enrolment form.
The foster or family carer must list themselves as the primary contact and the child protection worker as the secondary contact.
The foster or family carer must nominate emergency contacts – one must be the child protection worker and for after hours Crisis Care.
Decisions about the need for child care must be documented in the child's care plan and the associated costs approved in the funding component in Assist.
Note: The child's care plan can be modified to record the child care decisions without the need to consult all parties. However, all relevant parties must be given a copy of the modified care plan or modification (as the case requires) within 14 working days of it being approved. A copy of the modified care plan or modification may be withheld from a party if it considered that providing a copy would pose an unacceptable risk to the safety of the child or another person (s.89(7) of the Act).
Once child care has been approved, you must record the enrolment date and child care service details in the Child Information Portal (CIP) in Assist.
If the service is not listed in Assist or the details are incorrect, contact Client Applications. Full details for recording in the CIP can be found in the Assist User Guide – Child Information Portal and the QCR (in related resources).
After finding a child care provider and enrolling a child, the foster or family carer must claim CCS through myGov.
myGov is a secure way to access government services online with one login and one password. The foster or family carer can link a number of services that relate to Centrelink. For further information visit https://my.gov.au/mygov/content/html/about.html
In order to claim the CCS the foster or family carer will need a Customer Reference Number (CRN). The foster or family carers CRN and the child's CRN must be linked.
Centrelink provides a Customer Reference Number (CRN) when a foster or family carer receives payments and services from them to to identify personal records. A CRN has nine numbers and ends with a letter. For example: 123 456 789A.
A CRN is used when customers:
Most people get a CRN when they claim their first payment or register their details with Centrelink.
A CRN is required to:
If the foster or family carer does not have a CRN they will need to visit a service centre to confirm their identity to get a CRN. During their visit to Centrelink they can also ask for Centrelink to set up a Centrelink online account.
Linking the CRN Numbers
The CRN for both the child and the carer must be linked as this an important process in applying for the CCS. In most cases where carers receive payments from Centrelink for the child, the CRNs will be linked.
If the CRN of the carer and the child is not linked, you should provide the carer with a Centrelink Placement Notification Letter (Form 024 related resources),
The foster or family carer must log into my.gov.au (myGov) to apply for the CCS. When the CCS has been submitted the carer is notified with the following details:
The foster or family carer can track the progress of their CCS claim online through myGov or attend a Centrelink Office, or use the Express Plus Centrelink Mobile app.
Centrelink will provide the foster or family carer with a result of the claim and will send an assessment notice by one of the following:
It is important that the foster or family carer checks on the progress of the CCS with Centrelink in myGov, agree to the 'Complying Written Arrangement', and confirm enrolment.
The 'Complying Written Arrangement' (CWA) is an arrangement for child care between the child care provider and an individual (parent or carer) that sets out the child care arrangements such as days, time and fees for the child's care.
For a child in care, the foster or family carer need to agree to the CWA prior to the child attending child care.
After agreeing to the CWA, Centrelink will send a confirmation request to the foster or family carer in myGov. The foster or family carer must go into the CCS and confirm the enrolment. Centrelink then notifies the child care provider.
Once the enrolment is confirmed with the child care provider and Centrelink, the child protection worker will provide the child care provider with the Child Care Arrangement Letter (the letter outlines the placement details and other information relevant to the child's day to day needs which allows the child care provider to provide safe and appropriate care).
The child protection worker will also provide the Support Letter for ACCS (child wellbeing) child in care, to the child care provider for the ACCS to be applied. Both the Child Care Arrangement and Support Letter for ACCS (child wellbeing) child in care, are available in related resources.
For further information on the enrolment process refer to diagram on page 25 in the Care Provider Handbook.
Getting the ACCS (child wellbeing) applied for children in care
In order for the ACCS (child wellbeing) to be paid for children in care, the CCS must be applied for and approved.
Once the CCS is approved, you must give the Support Letter for ACCS (child wellbeing) child in care (in related resources) to the child care provider. This letter is used by the child care provider to apply for the ACCS (child wellbeing) for the child via a certificate or determination.
The Commonwealth Government has confirmed that a copy of the protection order is not necessary as the letter serves as proof for the ACCS.
he child care provider is responsible for administrating certificates and determinations through their IT software system to the Department of Human Services.
A certificate allows payment of Additional Child Care Subsidy (child wellbeing) for an initial period of up to six weeks. This will automatically trigger payment of Additional Child Care Subsidy (child wellbeing).
When the first six weeks of Additional Child Care Subsidy (child wellbeing) is about to expire the child care provider will be notified through their IT software system that further evidence is required. The child care provider will need to seek a determination through the Department of Human Services.
Decisions of determination are managed by the Department of Human Services and can be delayed, however, the child care provider can backdate up to 28 days.
Note: Where the ACCS (child wellbeing) subsidy is delayed due to the Department of Human Services and the child care centre not being able to seek any further backdating, the Department is responsible for that period of payment.
Organising child care and applying for CSS and ACCS in clear steps and in a timely way to make sure payments are made by the Department of Human Services is therefore crucial.
If the CCS is not approved
In most cases the CCS will be approved. Where the CCS is not approved the ACCS (child wellbeing) still applies.
The ACCS (child wellbeing) letter (in related resources) must also be provided to the child care provider.
Payment of child care fees
The payment of fees for a child in the CEO's care is supported through the CCS and Additional Child Care Subsidy (child wellbeing).
If the child care provider has a gap fee after the CCS and ACCS (child wellbeing) has been applied, the child care provider issues the invoice to the Department for payment.
The invoice should have the following details:
You must reconcile the invoice promptly and organise payment of the outstanding amount directly to the child care service.
Note: Absences, delays of determinations and CCS issues may affect the CCS and Additional Child Care Subsidy (child wellbeing) payments. You must follow up with the foster, family carer and child care to rectify the matter to avoid the costs where the CCS and ACCS (child wellbeing) is applicable.
If the child is not able to attend child care the foster or family carer should notify the child care provider.
Some absences are allowable without affecting payment of the CCS and ACCS. If the child does not attend the session of care, or part of a session of care, the service will be charged. The CCS and ACCS can be still paid as long as the absence is allowable. Families are allowed 42 absence days per child, per financial year.
For further information please refer to the Department of Education and Training Absences from child care.
You and the carer should discuss the reasons why a child does not require childcare any longer. Once agreed, the carer must notify the child care provider and complete the process for ceasing the enrolment, giving them the required notice. The fees may be charged for up two weeks past notification as per the childcare provider's policy. If the child does not attend childcare and the required notice has not been given, CCS and ACCS may not be paid and the Department will have to pay any outstanding fees.