Last week when dropping Miss Nearly 3 at childcare, I spotted a mysterious sealed envelope marked “For Families” next to the sign in sheet. I looked around furtively and slipped it into my handbag, secretly hoping it was cash.
No, it was a letter from the government. After reading it, I was none the wiser as to what it was about. But after reading the leaflets and a bit of help from Google, it turns it was about money – money the government could be giving me – or indeed, you. So, if you never saw the envelope or received it, but had no idea what it was about, here are the key points.
1. Lots of Australian families aren’t claiming enough child care benefit because they don’t know about it or don’t realize their family could qualify. Child care benefit can be paid for families with incomes up to $161,581 in some cases!
2. Long Day care, family day care and outside school hours care and occasional care all qualify but any informal care (grandparents, nannies or babysitters) doesn’t.
3. Child care tax rebate is different from the child care benefit and is not income tested. (Yep, you read that correctly – NOT INCOME TESTED). You have to be working, studying or training to qualify but you can get up to $7500 per child per year.
4. You can claim these benefits up to two years in arrears. Talk to your child’s centre about getting those old receipts now!
5. You can get most of these benefits fortnightly, quarterly or annually direct into your bank account.
Important note. None of these changes mean your child will come home any less overtired. They will still smell as though they’ve been with other small children all day. I call it Eau de Day Care.
The Government also investing more money in childcare. This will mean things like:
• A better staff to child ratio
• Childcare workers will be better qualified
• An increase in fees in most centres
My fees haven’t gone up yet, but that could be because the standards were introduced earlier in NSW and we may have already absorbed them.
These are important issues. I wish the letter had said some of these things. Talk to your local centre and find out how it will affect you. Mine is a bit worried about losing some good staff but none of them have left yet.
Did you know about these changes? What do you think? More information about the child care rebate and child care rebate is available your local Family Assistance Office (they are located in Medicare offices) or by calling them on 13 61 50.