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.

If you’ve been affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions or a declared emergency event, you may be eligible for extra absences. You can read about the help available if you’re affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) or a local emergency.

How many absences you can get

Usually, you can get up to 42 allowable absence days per child each financial year. For the 2022-23 financial year, you can get 10 extra allowable absences bringing the total number of absence days to 52.

If you reach your allowable absence limit, you may be able to get additional absences. You may get additional absences if any of these apply:

  • your child is ill
  • your child’s carer or their partner or another person your child lives with is ill
  • your child is attending preschool
  • alternative arrangements have been made for your child on a pupil-free day
  • your child hasn’t been immunised against an infectious disease and the absence occurs during an immunisation grace period
  • your child is spending time with a person other than their usual carer as required by a court order or parenting plan
  • your child’s child care service is closed as a direct result of a local emergency
  • your child can’t attend because of a local emergency
  • your child’s carer chooses not to send the child due to a local emergency.

Talk to your child care service about this. You may need to give them supporting documents.

In some circumstances, you may also get more allowable absences for a special purpose such as responding to COVID-19 outbreaks or a declared emergency.

Depending on the circumstances, special purpose absences may be available if your child attends a specific service, or you live in a specific area.

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

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 allowable absence limit.

Tracking your absences

If your Centrelink online account is linked to myGov, you can track your absences online.

To do this:

  1. Sign in to myGov.
  2. Select Child Care from the My Family menu.
  3. Select Absences.

Sign in to myGov

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

When you can use absence days before your child attends care or after their last day of attendance

We generally won’t pay CCS for any absences before your child physically attends or after the last day your child physically attends care. You’ll need to pay full fees for these days.

However if you have an approved reason, we’ll pay CCS for up to 7 absence days. You can use these either:

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

Approved reasons include any of these:

  • any of the additional absence reasons
  • your child’s child care service has changed ownership
  • your child’s usual child care service is closed and the child attends a different service under the same child care provider
  • your child’s enrolment ceased incorrectly
  • you’ve experienced 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.

If your child hasn’t attended child care for 14 weeks in a row, both of the following will apply:

  • your enrolment with the child care service will end
  • we won’t pay any absences after the last day your child physically attended care.

Read more about what happens if we end your enrolment.

Current CCS arrangements for debts relating to absences are being confirmed with new legislation. This applies for debts if your child is absent from care, either:

  • before they attend their first day of care
  • after they attend their last day of care.

This is subject to legislation passing. You do not need to do anything, we’ll provide more information here soon.

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

Lucy’s child is starting primary school on 4 February and she 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 didn’t physically attend. 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 a child has not yet attended the service

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

  • he’ll 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 isn’t 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.

Example 3 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 4 for when the child stops attending the service before their enrolment ends

Brad enrolled his child in day care until the end of the year. Brad’s child will attend the same day care next year. Brad’s child will go 2 days a week next year and it will be under a new enrolment. The last day of care under the current enrolment is 20 December. Brad contacts the service to let them know his child can’t attend on this day. In most circumstances, we won’t pay CCS for a child that doesn’t attend on the last day of their enrolment period. However, Brad speaks to his service 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.

Example 5 for how absences can be affected when the child’s enrolment ends

Julian has enrolled his child in day care. Julian lets his child care service know all of the following:

  • they are going away for an extended holiday
  • his child’s last day will be on 15 July
  • they want their keep their enrolment current so they don’t lose their spot with the service.

Julian’s child physically attends day care for the last time on 15 July. Julian’s enrolment ends after his child hasn’t attended for 14 weeks in a row. Julian doesn’t have an approved reason so will need to pay full fees for any absences that were paid, after his child last attended care.

Julian will need to talk to his child care service as he may owe money for the absences paid that he wasn’t entitled to.

When your child doesn’t use child care

Enrolments with your child care service will have ended if your child hasn’t attended child care for 14 weeks in a row. If your child hasn’t used child care at least once in the previous 26 weeks, they will stop being eligible for Child Care Subsidy (CCS).

We’ll reassess your family if one or more of your children stop using child care. We’ll check to see if any other children still using child care can get the higher CCS rate.

If you decide not to use child care, you can contact us to end your child’s CCS eligibility.

If your child starts to attend care again, you’ll need to submit a new claim for CCS and re-enrol them with your child care service.

Read more about if you want to re-enrol your child in the same service.

When you can use a gap fee waiver

If you get CCS, you generally need to make a co-contribution to your child care fees. You do this by paying the difference between your fees and your CCS amount. This is known as the gap fee.

The gap fee doesn’t apply to families who get Additional Child Care Subsidy Child Wellbeing or Additional Child Care Subsidy Grandparent. That is because this subsidy generally covers 100% of the fee charged.

There are some situations where a service can choose to waive a gap fee. It’s generally up to your child care service to waive a gap fee and this can be waived partially or in full. You should speak to your service to see if you’re eligible.

Find more information about gap fee waiving on the Department of Education website.

Using Centrepay deductions

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.

Page last updated: 1 June 2023.
QC 44271

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