Changes to the Child care System - What do they mean for you and will they actually happen?
As announced on Mother’s Day, the Budget contains changes to the child care system under the $3.5 billion ‘Jobs for Families’ package.
The changes are scheduled to commence on 1 July 2017 and are aimed at increasing workforce participation, one of the two key focuses of the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry Report into Child care and Early Childhood Learning (October 2014).
Significantly, the current system (Child care Benefit, Child care Rebate and Jobs, Education and Training Child Care Fee Assistance programs) will be replaced by a single means tested Child Care Subsidy for up to 100 hours of subsidised care per child per fortnight. In another change, the subsidy will be paid directly to approved care service providers.
The key points are:
Furthermore, to assist disadvantaged and vulnerable children the Government has provided funding of $327.7 million over four years, as part of the ‘Jobs for Families’ package to fund up to 24 hours per fortnight to children from families with incomes less than approximately $60,000 per year who do not meet the activity test.
The Government estimates that:
The proposed changes appear to have the initial support of the peak sector bodies including the Early Learning Association Australia and Early Childhood Association.
Given that the package won’t commence until 2017 and is to be funded by savings generated through tightening access to the Family Tax Benefit, as outlined in last year’s budget, there is significant potential for changes before implementation.
Under healthcare the budget includes funding for the “No Jab No Pay” vaccination initiative aimed at increasing the number of children being vaccinated. Exemptions will only apply for medical reasons.