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6.5.3.3 Child care

Document
Last amended 
17 September 2018

Legislative authority

The Military Rehabilitation and Compensation (Family Support) Instrument (No.2) 2018

Section 11 – Child care services
(1) A member or former member, or a nominated person of the member or former member, may be provided with child care services for a child of the member or former member.
(2) If a child is under school age, the amount for child care services payable in relation to the child must not exceed $10,000 per financial year.
(3) If a child is of primary school age, the amount for child care services payable in relation to the child must not exceed $5,000 per financial year.
(4) A child care service is to be provided by a child care provider and any amount for child care services is to be paid to the child care provider.
(5) To avoid doubt, an amount for child care services is not payable by way of reimbursement.

 

DVA’s existing child care policies

DVA has existing policies for the consideration of short-term child care which cover the following circumstances:

Child care provided under the Family Support Package is additional to the policies outlined above. This means that for the policies above, the funding limit for the Family Support Package does not apply and a person could receive child care support while accessing treatment, and then potentially the maximum amount under this package while participating in their rehabilitation program.

 

Eligible child for child care support

The Military Rehabilitation and Compensation (Family Support) Instrument (No.2) 2018

Section 11 – Child care services
(1)  A member or former member, or a nominated person of the member or former member, may be provided with child care services for a child of the member or former member.

 

An eligible child for the purpose of receiving child care, is a child of the veteran within the meaning of the Family Law Act 1975. This means that along with biological children of the veteran, eligible children include those a veteran has adopted and step-children.

Where a child of the veteran is in the care of a nominated person as outlined in section 6.5.3.1, the child is still an eligible child for the purpose of child care. For example, where the grandparent of the veteran has responsibility for caring for the veteran’s child, the child is an eligible child and funding can be provided for child care support.

 

Consideration of child care requests

Circumstances where child care can be approved

Under the Family Support Package, as with DVA’s existing child care policies, the key consideration that must be used to guide decision making, is whether the lack of child care is creating barriers to the veteran achieving their rehabilitation goals. The intent is to provide targeted child care support that is reasonable and for specific periods.

The following are provided as a guide to the kind of circumstances where child care support may be approved, but are not exhaustive:

  • the veteran or their nominated person as per section 6.5.3.1, requires counselling to deal with challenging family, financial and life circumstances and there is no one to care for the veteran’s children;
  • the veteran needs to attend training including return to work training as part of their rehabilitation program;
  • the veteran is transitioning out of defence housing into alternate accommodation;
  • the veteran is participating in a psychosocial activity as part of their rehabilitation program; 
  • the veteran is experiencing a family crisis where it is considered appropriate for the safety and/or wellbeing of the children, to be in care; or
  • the veteran already has their child/ren in care but:
    • may increase their participation in rehabilitation as a result of increasing the time their child/ren are in care; or
    • is at risk of  withdrawing or reducing their participation in rehabilitation due to financial constraints of existing child care arrangements.

Rehabilitation Coordinators must be satisfied as to the legitimacy of requests for child care support and need for assistance. Rehabilitation Providers therefore play an important role in this as the need for child care should be identified by the Rehabilitation Provider and justification provided to explain why: the lack of child care; or the limitations of existing child care arrangements (financial or time) is presenting a barrier to the veteran achieving their rehabilitation goal/s. Please refer to section 6.5.3.2 for further information about the requirement to be genuinely participating in a DVA rehabilitation program.

Rehabilitation Coordinators are encouraged to contact the Rehabilitation Policy Development and Advice team at rehabilitation@dva.gov.au if advice is required for specific cases. 


Circumstances where child care should not be approved

There are many circumstances in which funding for child care would be considered beneficial for a veteran undertaking a rehabilitation program. However, the intent of child care under the Family Support Package, is to provide extra support to veterans who are participating in rehabilitation where the lack of child care or limitations of existing child care arrangements (financial or time) to enable a rehabilitation program is creating a barrier to the person achieving their rehabilitation goals.

As discussed in section 6.5.3.2, accessing child care is not a reason to commence a rehabilitation program in and of itself. For example, where a veteran is too unwell to participate in a rehabilitation program, one cannot be opened solely for the purpose of accessing child care. For this reason, the veteran must have at least one genuine rehabilitation goal they are working towards, for which child care may be a barrier to achieving that goal.

If existing child care arrangements (or funding of this) do not present a barrier to the veteran achieving their rehabilitation goals, the veteran should be encouraged to continue to self-manage their life and the costs of having children. 


Ongoing child care assistance

Making decisions about how to manage ongoing child care responsibilities is something that all parents need to do. Compensation payments, such as incapacity payments, are an important part of the assistance that DVA provides, to assist families to meet their costs of daily living, which may include the costs of child care.

If short-term child care is approved to address a barrier to rehabilitation, for example while a person is undertaking a work trial, it is important that the client’s expectations are managed so that there is an understanding that the arrangement will not be ongoing or permanent. The provision of short-term child care support, intends to provide veterans and their families with the right type of support at the right time. For this reason, once a veteran has achieved their rehabilitation goals and their rehabilitation program is closed, they will need to self-fund their child care needs.

 

Funding for child care support

The Military Rehabilitation and Compensation (Family Support) Instrument (No.2) 2018

Section 11 – Child care services
(2) If a child is under school age, the amount for child care services payable in relation to the child must not exceed $10,000 per financial year.
(3) If a child is of primary school age, the amount for child care services payable in relation to the child must not exceed $5,000 per financial year.
(4) A child care service is to be provided by a child care provider and any amount for child care services is to be paid to the child care provider.
(5) To avoid doubt, an amount for child care services is not payable by way of reimbursement.

Under the Family Support Package, child care funding must not exceed:

  • $10,000 per child per financial year (under school age); and/or
  • $5,000 per child per financial year (primary school).

There is no further restriction, such as a weekly or monthly maximum on the amount of funding that can be paid per child. However, to enable a review of circumstances, child care support can only be approved for a specific period, up to a maximum of one year, and where the lack of care is presenting a barrier to a veteran achieving their rehabilitation goals as per section 6.5.3.2 of this Library. 

Where a child does not meet immunisation requirements to be eligible for Commonwealth child care entitlements, they will also not be eligible for child care support under the Family Support Package.

Please note that where a person has received the maximum amount of funding, there are no special provisions or exceptional circumstances that will allow additional funding to be provided.


Meaning of ‘under school age’ and ‘school age’

For the purpose of this policy and in the context of the provision of child care support:

  • ‘under school age’ means children not yet commenced in primary school and have not yet reached the oldest age required to attend school by law, in the State or Territory in which they live; and
  • ‘school age’ means children who have commenced primary school (not pre-school) or have reached the oldest age required to attend school by law, in the State or Territory in which they live.
  • ‘school age’ continues until the end of final year of primary school.

For example, in Queensland the compulsory school age is from 6 years and 6 months to 16 years. If the child commences school at the age of 6 years, they will be eligible for $5,000 per financial year because they have commenced primary school.  If the child is held back for any reason, and commences school at 7 years of age, they will be eligible for $5,000 from 6 years and 6 months. 

Information about enrolment ages can be found on the relevant state or territory government websites.


Commonwealth child care entitlements

Child care funding under the FSP is provided to complement, not replace or duplicate existing Commonwealth child care entitlements. As such, funding provided by DVA is to meet any out of pocket expenses after the application of Commonwealth entitlements. In the event that the family income of the widow/er makes them ineligible for Commonwealth child care support, DVA will fund the fees owing.  Coverage of this gap (partial or full fees) will be available up until the approved DVA child care funding has been exhausted.

If the veteran has not undergone an assessment for child care fees with the Department of Human Services, they must do so in order to access child care funding from DVA. If required, the Rehabilitation Provider can provide assistance with claiming child care entitlements.


Veteran’s residing overseas

As per section 11.3.2 of the Rehabilitation Policy Library, veterans who reside overseas are able to access rehabilitation support and services. However, these veterans are unable to access child care under the Family Support Package, due to the requirement for the care to be provided by an Australian Commonwealth approved child care provider.


Payment of child care costs

The Department of Human Services has advised that to be eligible for the Child Care Subsidy (CCS), the client must be liable for the fees for care provided by an approved child care service. The CCS was implemented on the 2 July 2018 and replaces the Child Care Benefit, however the same provisions which applied to Child Care Benefit regarding third party fee involvement continue to apply to Child Care Subsidy.

Options for payment of additional child care support under this package are:

(a) The child care provider invoices 100% of the child care fee in the name of the parent.

  • The parent may receive child care subsidy eligibility on the full fee as the liability is solely with the parent.Note, if not eligible for commonwealth entitlements, the liability remains with the parent for 100% of the fee.
  • In this case DVA is able to provide payment to the provider for the balance of the account after the CCS has been applied, if a copy of the invoice/statement is received with this identifying:
    • Client receiving the support (parent)
    • Child for whom child care has been approved
    • Evidence that commonwealth entitlements have been applied; and
    • That no GST is payable

(b) The child care provider invoices 100% of the child care fee in the name of DVA as the parent has no child care subsidy benefit eligibility, and the liability is solely with DVA. DVA may provide payment for the account until the capped limit is reached.

The child care provider will determine who is liable for the fees based on who signs the enrolment form and/or who signs any relevant third party agreement (eg: directly with DVA). This is a business decision for the child care provider in accordance with their business practices.

Where child care is an approved activity on a veteran’s rehabilitation program, the cost must be included as third party cost.

Veterans do not have the option to pay child care costs and be reminbursed for them at a later date, as outlined in part 11 (5) of The Military Rehabilitation and Compensation (Family Support) Instrument (No.2) 2018 .


Closure of a rehabilitation program

When a veteran’s rehabilitation program is closed, access to child care also ceases because there is no legal mechanism to pay for activities without an open DVA rehabilitation program. Keeping a rehabilitation plan open solely to provide child care support, is not a reason in itself for rehabilitation to continue. The veteran must be working towards their own personal rehabilitation goals for which a lack of child care is presenting a barrier.

Where child care support has been included on an approved DVA rehabilitation program and the veteran’s rehabilitation program ceases unexpectedly, any child care that has not taken place and has not been paid for, cannot be funded by DVA.

 

Child care providers

The Military Rehabilitation and Compensation (Family Support) Instrument (No.2) 2018

Section 11 – Child care services
(4)  A child care service is to be provided by a child care provider and any amount for child care services is to be paid to the child care provider.

In this instrument:
child care provider means a person approved (however described) to provide child care services by the Secretary of the Commonwealth Department responsible for education.


Commonwealth approved child care

Commonwealth approved child care is child care that has been approved by the Australian Government because it meets certain standards and requirements. Child care support under the FSP can only be provided by a Commonwealth approved child care provider. Commonwealth approved child care providers may include:

  • long day care;
  • family day care;
  • outside school hours care - before and after school care and holiday care;
  • in-home care; and
  • occasional care.

Commonwealth approved child care providers will be registered Australia’s child care portal: https://www.mychild.gov.au/.

In-home care provided by a professional, can only be funded under the FSP, where the child is eligible for in-home care as per the rules outlined on https://www.mychild.gov.au/childcare-information/options.   These rules identify specific situations that apply for use of this service.  If a child is not eligible for in-home care, DVA cannot fund in-home care. 

Commonwealth approved child care providers do not include child care provided by relatives, friends or neighbors.