Despite the Johnsons’ concerns that they wouldn’t be able to make ends meet if dad-to-be Chris returned to university to provide a bright future for their son, the Child Care Subsidy calculator revealed that all their dreams could come true. Alyse shares their story.
When we found out we were expecting our first baby in 2019, we were over the moon. We couldn’t wait to meet our little bundle of joy – even if it meant dealing with sleepless nights and endless nappy changes. We were ready for all of it.
Shortly after we found out the big news, Chris revealed to me that he wanted to go back to uni to study nursing. He explained that he wanted to ensure we were financially stable so we could offer our child the best possible future.
I was supportive of Chris’s plan from the get-go, but we both wondered whether we’d be able to support our family while Chris was studying. We did some calculations, but there was one big question we needed answered to know if we could make it work: how much Child Care Subsidy would we get from the government?
CCS: Our Eligibility
A friend of mine mentioned the Care Subsidy calculator she’d used to figure out her CCS entitlements. I hopped online and started plugging in all our information. There were only a few questions and it was super easy to use.
I knew I’d be going back to work part-time when our child was 10 months old and I found out that Chris’s uni studies would also be considered “activity hours” that counted towards our CCS entitlements. The calculator quickly revealed that we would be eligible for up to 50 hours of subsidised care per week. Winning!
After I put our family adjusted taxable income into the Child Care Subsidy calculator, we discovered that we would receive a Child Care Subsidy rate of 78.5 percent. We stared at each other and laughed. We could make it happen – Chris was going to uni!
He started his nursing studies a few months before our son Max was born. It’s a good thing he’d gotten a head start because I think the brain fog of those first few months of parenting would have prevented us from tackling any big new goals!
CCS: Our Application Experience
Applying for Child Care Subsidy on the Centrelink website was a breeze. We simply had to fill out the information about our activity hours and income that we’d already put into the CCS calculator, along with a few other bits of information. It wasn’t long before our application was approved and the rate of 78.5 percent predicted by the Child Care Subsidy calculator was confirmed.
Our CCS rate meant that we could enrol Max in child care a few months before I went back to work, we were thrilled! We wanted to give him time to settle into a routine at our local centre before I returned to my part-time job to make the transition smoother.
Before Max’s first official day at the centre, went to a couple of stay-and-play sessions, so he was confident and happy when we left him there for the first time when he was eight months old. For about three months, he went to child care two days a week. By the time I went back to work four days a week when Max was 11 months old, he was already settled in and loving it. He transitioned to four days of child care without any issues.
There’s no way we would have been able to afford those extra few months of child care if it hadn’t been for our Child Care Subsidy. We’re so grateful we were able to give Max a smooth start. It was so nice to not have to hand him over screaming, “Mummy, don’t go!” He always looked forward to seeing his little friends and the educators he loves so much.
How we Optimise our CCS Hours
Because I work from 8:30am to 4pm four days a week, we don’t need full 12-hour days of child care for Max and we didn’t want to have to pay for child care hours we weren’t using.
We were so happy when we found out that our centre offers flexible hours – either 9-hour, 10-hour or 12-hour days.
We use the 10-hour option which means we save thousands of dollars a year compared to the 12-hour option! Without that kind of flexibility, we probably wouldn’t be able to afford to send Max to child care four days a week.
Max is the best thing that’s ever happened to us, and we can’t wait to give him a little brother or sister to love (and bicker with!). But the financial pressure of having a second child while Chris is studying has been holding us back.
That is, until the Australian Government announced a higher rate of Child Care Subsidy for families who have two children aged five and under in child care starting in March 2022.
We looked up the eligibility criteria on the Services Australia website:
- You get or will be eligible for CCS
- Your family’s combined income is under $354,305
- You have more than one child aged 5, or younger, in child care.
Eligible higher rate children will receive a 30 percent higher subsidy, up to a maximum 95 percent.
When Chris found that out, he turned to me and said, “Time to hurry up and have a second!” I laughed and told him, “You focus on finishing your studies first!” But this new higher rate of CCS definitely makes having a second child possible for us in the near future. It’s amazing.
When we were trying to figure out how Child Care Subsidy worked and how much we were entitled to, we had a lot of questions:
- How much is the Child Care Subsidy in Australia?
- How do Child Care Subsidy payments work?
- Which parent should claim CCS?
- Is there a Child Care Subsidy cap?
- How do I apply for the Child Care Subsidy?
If you have any questions about your Child Care Subsidy entitlements, I encourage you to visit these pages and talk to your centre team. They’ve been so helpful and supportive in helping us maximise our CCS entitlements and caring for our Max. We couldn’t be happier with the incredible service we receive.