New Zealand Families in Australia – Child Care Benefit

Child Care Benefit is a government payment that helps cover the cost of child care in Australia.


Child Care Benefit in Australia

It is income tested, so it is not available for people with high incomes, but it may still be worthwhile for parents with high incomes to apply.

Anyone who qualifies for this benefit receives it tax-free.

Child Care benefit can be used for several different types of care.

These are: long day care, family day care, occasional day care, outside school hour care, vacation care, pre-school, and kindergarten.

Child Care Benefit can only be used to cover the cost of approved or registered child care.

Approved Child Care Benefit Payments

Approved child care meets the requirements set by the Australian government. In the case of long day care, family day care and outside school hours care, services must also meet the new quality standards set out under the National Quality Framework.

A list of approved child care centres is available here. (Opens in new window.)

The current maximum rate of benefit payment for a non school-aged child is $3.90 per hour, or $195 per week to cover up to 50 hours of care a week.

Payment rates for school-aged children are 85 percent of the non-school-aged rate.

Registered Child Care Benefit Payments

Child Care Benefits in Australia

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 care providers.

The current maximum registered care rate for a non school-aged child in up to 50 hours of care per week is $0.652 per hour, or $32.60 per week. Payment rates for school-age children are 85 percent of the non-school-age rate.

How many Hours a week can I claim for?

Approved Child Care: For parents who are both in work, training or study for more than 30 hours a fortnight, up to 50 hours care per child per week can be claimed. Otherwise, the maximum you can claim is 24 hours per child per week.

Registered Child Care: Parents who are involved in work-related commitments at some time during the week can claim up to 50 hours per child per week of care. Otherwise, the maximum you can claim is 24 hours per child per week.

Income Limits

No child benefit is payable for people with high incomes, but it is still worthwhile for parents above the high income limits to apply.

This is because if you are found to qualify for child care benefit even at a zero rate, you may then qualify for child care rebate (see below).

Currently you get no child care benefit if your income is above these limits:

Number of Children Income above which zero child benefit is paid
1$142,426
2$147,594
3 or more$166,656 plus $31,495 for each child after the third

The maximum rates are payable for actual annual family incomes under $41,026.

In addition to the usual residency requirements, to qualify for Child Care Benefit for children under seven years old, you must show that your children’s immunisations are up to date. Also, you or your partner must be the person responsible for paying your child care costs.


Examples of Child Care Benefit

Below are two examples of the amount of Child Care benefit you can receive in approved care. You can see that as you earn more, you receive less Child Care Benefit. In addition to these amounts, you will probably qualify for Child Care Rebate, even if your Child Care Benefit entitlement is zero – see below.

Example 1: Working Parents
Weekly out of hours school care
at a cost of $20 a day for two children (15 hours a week care)

Main Parent’s Annual Income Second Parent’s Income Weekly Child Care Benefit
$30,000$30,000$89.96
$50,000$30,000$75.26
$50,000$50,00$58.34
$90,000$30,00$33.84
$90,000$50,00$9.30

Example 2: Working Parents
Weekly (5 day) pre-school care in a day care centre
at a cost of $80 a day for one child

Main Parent’s Annual Income Second Parent’s Income Weekly Child Care Benefit
$30,000$30,000$158.52
$50,000$30,000$120.04
$50,000$50,00$81.59
$90,000$30,00$43.13
$90,000$50,00$4.66

Child Care Rebate

Child Care Rebate is a tax-free benefit in addition to Child Care Benefit.

Child Care Rebate covers 50 per cent of out-of-pocket costs for approved child-care expenses, up to a maximum amount per child per year.

Out-of-pocket costs are calculated as the cost of approved child care less any Child Care Benefit you have received. There is no income limit for receiving child care rebate.

This rebate is for parents who are working, training or studying at some time during the week.

To be eligible for Child Care Rebate, you need to be assessed as being eligible for Child Care Benefit for approved child care, even if you are assessed at a zero rate. The maximum rebate is $7,500 per child per year.

Examples of Child Care benefit PLUS Child Care Rebate Payments in approved care:

Example 1: Working Parents
Weekly out of hours school care
at a cost of $20 a day for two children (15 hours a week care)

Main Parent’s Annual Income Second Parent’s Income Weekly Child Care Benefit Weekly Out of Pocket Expenses Weekly Child Care Rebate
$30,000$30,000$89.96$110.04$55.02
$50,000$30,000$75.26$124.74$62.36
$50,000$50,000$58.34$141.66$70.82
$90,000$30,000$33.84$166.16$83.08
$90,000$50,000$9.30$190.70$95.34

Example 2: Working Parents
Weekly (5 day) pre-school care in a day care centre
at a cost of $80 a day for one child

Main Annual Parents Income Second Parents Income Weekly Child Care Benefit Weekly Out of pocket Expenses Weekly Child Care Rebate
$30,000$30,000$158.52$241.48$120.741
$50,000$30,000$120.04$279.96$139.98
$50,000$50,000$81.59$318.41$144.23*
$90,000$30,000$43.13$356.87$144.23*
$90,000$50,000$4.66$395.34$144.23*

*$7,500 cap applies.