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.
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, and many families with a stay-at-home parent are probably already engaged in many of the “approved activities” needed to receive the new Child Care Subsidy.
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.
Also remember that activities are cumulative, so you can combine recognised activities and also count the time taken to travel to and from work, study or volunteering.
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 you have any concerns about whether you have enough ‘activity’ to quality for the Child Care Subsidy, you should contact our Centre Director who will support you to identify what this means for you.
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.
And please note that there is also an exemption if your child is in the year before school and attending a preschool or kindergarten program in a long day care centre, which may entitle you to access up to 36 hours of subsided care per child per fortnight.
We also 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.