What is Flexible Child Care Assistance?

Published on Wednesday, 04 April 2018
Last updated on Wednesday, 24 March 2021

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What is Flexible Childcare Assistance?

Flexible Childcare Assistance is a government subsidy that supports parents who are going it alone and working at times when most child care providers are not. 

It helps sole parents pay for child care outside usual business hours, for example during weekends and nights; and eases the cost of child care for mums and dads who are coming off their benefit payment and beginning a new job or boosting their work hours. 

Let’s look at this subsidy in more detail.  

Who can receive Flexible Child Care Assistance?

This government subsidy may be available to you if you are:

  • A single parent of a child under the age of 17
  • Receiving either Sole Parent Support or Jobseeker Support
  • Cancelling your benefit because you’re starting a job that will continue for at least 13 weeks or increasing your work hours for at least 13 weeks
  • Working at least three hours a week at times when child care programmes are closed

How much is paid to sole parents?

If you satisfy the conditions for Flexible Childcare Assistance, then you can receive up to:

  • $50 a week for one child
  • $25 a week for each extra child

This is capped at $150 a week and you can receive the subsidy for up to 26 weeks from when your Sole Parent Support or Jobseeker Support benefit is first cancelled. 

The good news is that those receiving Flexible Childcare Assistance can still apply for the Out of School Care and Recreation (OSCAR) Subsidy or Childcare Subsidy to help pay for child care when child care programmes are available to them. 

These subsidies make before and after school care, school holiday programmes and approved early learning programmes (like kindergarten and home-based care) more affordable.  

What can the subsidy be used for?

As its name suggests, Flexible Childcare Assistance helps parents pay for flexible child care. 

It helps cover these child care costs:

  • Payments to your child’s carer (who could be a family member, trusted friend, neighbour or child-minder)
  • Food
  • Activities
  • Travel

Who will provide the best care for your child?

With Flexible Child Care Assistance, you’re responsible for choosing and organising care for your child, and need to find someone who’ll look after them in a safe and supportive way. 

To ensure that you’re leaving your youngster in good hands, the government recommends that you: 

•    Ask the prospective carer for references, then check these out 
•    Ask for a copy of their criminal record
•    Make sure the proposed child care environment is safe  
•    Make sure any travel by car will be safe for your child
•    Explain your preferences regarding your child’s meals, activities and behavioural management

How can parents apply for Flexible Childcare Assistance?

You need to call Work and Income on 0800 559 009 and discuss your circumstances with them. They'll explain the next steps and what information you need to provide.

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