What’s the difference and what can you claim?

Sometimes you might be forgiven for thinking that child care legislation, benefits and rebates have been made as utterly complicated as possible just so we all give up and don’t bother claiming anything at all.

There are so many different options, restrictions and different types of care, which is why it may well be a good thing if the rebate and benefit is consolidated to one easy payment, as long as nobody loses out of course.

One of the confusing aspects about child care is the difference between registered and approved child care and what that means for families wishing to claim Child Care Benefit (CCB) and/or Child Care Rebate.

Child Care Benefit can be claimed for both Approved and Registered care, but only if families/parents meet the eligibility criteria, but Child Care Rebate can only be claimed for Approved care.

Approved Child Care

This is the general term for all those types of child care service that have met Australian Government approval for child care provision in order to pass on the Child Care Benefit to families as a reduction in their child care fees. This means you pay less money out of your own pocket.

Approved child care can include:

  • Long day care
  • Family day care
  • Outside Of School Hours Care
  • Vacation care
  • In-home care
  • Occasional

Child Care Benefit for Approved Care

Child Care Benefit is worked out on a sliding scale depending on your financial situation. If you are not eligible due to income, you are what’s known as “zero rated”. If you use approved child care and are not zero rated, you can receive:

  • Up to 24 hours per child per week, available to all eligible families, or
  • Up to 50 hours per child per week if:
    • You or your partner are a grandparent with primary care of a grandchild
    • You and your partner are working, looking for work, training, or studying for at least 15 hours per week or 30 hours per fortnight, or
    • You and your partner have an exemption from that requirement

More than 50 hours per week is available to families in certain circumstances who need extra assistance. The maximum rate is payable for actual annual family income under $42,997 or for families receiving income support.

You will not be entitled to any Child Care Benefit for approved care if your taxable income is more than these thresholds:

Number of children in your care Income limits before your payment reduces to$0

  1. 1 $149,597
  2. 2 $155,013
  3. 3 or more $175,041 plus $33,106 for each child after the third


Child Care Rebate for Approved Care

Child Care Rebate assists eligible parents and guardians with out of pocket expenses for approved care (up to $7,500 per year, per child).

It is NOT MEANS TESTED! Even if you are “zero rated” for Child Care Benefit, as long as you meet work/study, immunisation and residency requirements, you can claim Child Care Rebate. BUT you have to be assessed for Child Care Benefit by Human Services (Centrelink) to do so.

Registered Care

Registered child care is care provided by individuals who are registered as carers with the Department of Human Services (Centrelink).

It can include care provided by grandparents, relatives, friends, or nannies. In some cases, it can also include care provided by individuals in private preschools, kindergartens and some outside school hour services, including before and after school care and vacation care.

Registered carers must be over 18 or can be under 18 if they hold a child care qualification. They must be paid by the child’s or children’s parents or carers or private child care service to look after their children (such as an agency), and they must be able to provide receipts for that payment.

Child Care Benefit for Registered Care

Child Care Benefit for registered care is paid at a standard hourly rate for up to 50 hours per child per week if:

  • You and your partner are working, looking for work, training, or studying at some time in the week that care is provided or
  • You and your partner have an exemption from that requirement

To qualify for Child Care Benefit for registered care, you do not have to meet an income or assets test.

To claim Child Care Benefit for registered care you need to download the claim form and lodge with receipts within 12 months of the care being provided.

Child Care Rebate is NOT available for Registered Care!

Don’t forget that to claim any benefit at all, regardless of income, you must fulfill basic eligibility in terms of:

  • Primary Carer – you must be the primary carer for your child. In the case of divorced parents, if you have sole residential custody, only the parent with custody may claim, but if you have joint residential custody you may claim for the days of the week that you are deemed Primary Carer. This can also include grandparents who are primary carers.
  • Australian Residency for tax purposes (this includes temporary residents as long as they are paying tax on Australian income and Australian Government sponsored students)
  • Immunisation – all children under 7 must be up-to-date with all required vaccinations, be on a catch up programme or hold a valid exemption.
  • Work/Study test – you must be able to fulfil the requirements in terms of the number of hours you and your partner work, study or are looking for work over a two-week period.

For more in depth information you can read our article on Care for Kids

and then if you’re still confused, you need to go to your local Centrelink/Human Services office and discuss your own circumstances. Call 136 150 for further assistance.