If your child is absent from child care

We may pay Child Care Subsidy (CCS) if you’re charged for child care when your child is absent.

When your child is going to be absent from child care, you need to let your service know. It’s important you tell them so they can accurately record the absence. If they don’t do this, we can’t pay your CCS correctly.

How many absences you can get

You can get up to 42 allowable absence days per child each financial year. These absences can be used for any reason, including a local emergency.

If you reach your allowable absence limit, you may get additional absences. You can access additional absence days during a local emergency if your child has used their 42 absence days. Talk to your child care service about this. You may need to provide them with supporting documents.

In some circumstances, you may get more allowable absences for a special purpose such as a declared emergency.

Depending on the circumstances of the emergency, special purpose absences may be available only if your child attends a specific service or you live in a specific area impacted by an emergency event.

If you have both annual allowable and special purpose absences available, the special purpose absences will be used first.

Additional absences in a local emergency event

To access additional absences during a local emergency, one of the following must apply:

  • your child care service was closed as a direct result of a local emergency
  • your child was unable to attend child care, for example, because they couldn’t get to the service, for up to 28 days after the emergency
  • you chose not to send your child, for up to 7 days after the emergency.

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment website lists the areas where you can access these absences.

When you can use absences

You can only use absence days for days your child would normally attend care and get CCS. This includes public holidays.

You can use absence days for any reason, including if the child is on a holiday. You don’t need to provide evidence for any absences you use under the 42 allowable absence limit.

If you end your child’s enrolment because of COVID-19 restrictions, we may pay CCS for absences after their last day of attendance.

Find more information about the latest announcements and support available on the Department of Education, Skills and Employment website.

How to track your extra absences for a special purpose

You can track your absences in the Express Plus Centrelink mobile app. Select your child’s name from the Child Care Subsidy menu option, then Absences.

You can also check using your Centrelink online account through myGov. Select Child Care from the My Family menu option, then Absences.

How to access a gap fee waiver

You may not have to pay a gap fee when your child doesn’t attend care. This can happen if your child can’t attend care because either:

  • you live in, or your child care service is in a Commonwealth declared COVID-19 hotspot for more than 7 days
  • your child care service is temporarily closed due to public health advice.

Your child care service may continue to waive the gap fee until the state or territory does either of these:

  • lifts restrictions around access to child care for Centre Based Day Care, Family Day Care and In Home Care services
  • allows all primary school-aged children to return to face to face learning for Outside of School Hours Care services.

Your service may waive your gap fee for other reasons and for earlier dates depending on the state or territory you live in. For example, if your child care service has limited their availability and are only allowing children of essential workers to attend.

If you are an employee of a child care service, they can offer you a discount if you meet all of the following:

  • you’re employed as an educator or early childhood teacher
  • you’re working at a Centre Based Day Care or Outside School Hours Care service
  • you have a child enrolled in an early childhood education and care service where you work or it’s owned by your provider.

This does not apply if you are employed by a Family Day Care or In Home Care service.

It’s up to your child care service to waive the gap fee. You should talk to them about your payments.

If you have a Centrepay deduction set up

If you pay your fees through Centrepay and if your service has decided to waive the gap fee, remember to suspend or cancel the payments for the relevant period.

Find more information about gap fee waiving on the Department of Education, Skills and Employment website.

Using absence days before your child attends care or after their last day of attendance

In some instances, you can get CCS for up to 7 absence days. You can use these absence days either:

  • before your child attends their first day of care
  • after their last day they physically attend care.

To use absences for this, your child must be enrolled in care and can’t attend for an approved reason.

Approved reasons include any of these:

  • your child, you or someone your child lives with is unwell
  • your child’s enrolment ceased incorrectly
  • a family tragedy.

You should talk to your service about these absence reasons and about using these absence days. Your service may ask you to provide evidence.

When we won’t pay

If your enrolment is cancelled, we’ll stop paying your subsidy. This may happen if either of the following occurs:

  • your child hasn’t attended child care for 14 weeks in a row
  • your child care service advises us your child is no longer attending.

We won’t cancel your child’s enrolment if both of these apply:

  • they normally attend child care in an area that is part of a COVID-19 lockdown or stay at home order
  • they haven’t attended for 14 weeks in this period.

If your child has not yet attended the service

You need an approved reason for us to pay CCS before your child attends a service for the first time. If you don’t provide an approved reason to your service, we won’t subsidise your fees for those days.

Example 1 for when the child has not yet attended the service

Lucy’s child is starting primary school on 4 February. Lucy enrols her child in before school care starting the same day. Lucy starts work late on 4 February and decides she’ll take her child to school. This means Lucy’s child will start using before school care from 5 February. The child care service still charges Lucy for 4 February even though her child did not physically attend. This is because she didn’t meet an approved reason. Lucy has to pay the full fee for that day. Lucy’s child physically attends before school care for the first time on 5 February. This means we’ll start paying CCS from 5 February.

Example 2 for when the child has not yet attended the service

There’s a vacancy at Tim’s local day care centre for 1 day a week from 17 December. Tim lets the child care service know both of the following:

  • he will accept the place so he doesn’t miss out
  • his child’s first day will be on 7 January.

Tim’s child care centre closes over the holidays. His child care centre charges him fees to reserve a place while they are on holiday. Reserving a place at a child care centre is not an approved reason. Tim will not get CCS for days from 17 December to 6 January. We’ll only start paying CCS from 7 January as this is the first day his child attends.

If your child’s enrolment ends

If your enrolment ends we generally won’t pay CCS for any days after the last day your child physically attends. You’ll need to pay full fees for these days.

In some circumstances, we can pay CCS for up to 7 days after the last day your child physically attends. You must have an approved reason. Your child care service will tell us if you have an approved reason to use these absence days.

There is help available if you have been affected by COVID-19 restrictions. If you ended your enrolment with your child care service after 12 July 2021 we may pay CCS for absences after the last day your child attended. This may apply to you if you live in, or your child’s service is in a declared COVID-19 hotspot for more than 7 days.

You should talk to your service if you think this applies to you.

If your child returns to the same service after a previous enrolment has ended, the service needs to both:

  • re-establish the care arrangement with you
  • submit a new enrolment notice.

Once they’ve done this, you’ll need to confirm your child’s enrolment online.

Example 1 for when the child stops attending the service before their enrolment ends

Ivana has enrolled her child in day care until 12 April. Ivana lets the child care service know both of the following:

  • they are going away for a long weekend
  • her child’s last day will be on 9 April.

Ivana’s child physically attends day care for the last time on 9 April. Ivana doesn’t have an approved reason so will need to pay full fees for 10 to 12 April.

Example 2 for when the child doesn’t attend on the last day of their enrolment

Brad enrolled his child in day care until the end of the year. Brad’s child will attend the same day care next year but under a new enrolment. The last day of care under the current enrolment is 20 December. Brad contacts the service to let them know, and they agree to record this as an approved absence. Brad will get CCS for 20 December as the service confirmed he met an approved reason.

Page last updated: 24 January 2022