In July 2018, the Australian Government made a huge change to the early childhood and child care system — the first of its kind in 40 years. Now, the primary way for the Government to assist families with their child care fees is through the Child Care Subsidy, which is a single, means-tested contribution. Depending on your financial and lifestyle circumstances, this subsidy can potentially pay up to 85% of your child care fees for up to 100 hours per fortnight.
However, navigating the child care costs in Australia can feel a little confusing, so we’ve pulled together all of the essential information below to give you a helping hand. Due to the many moving parts, it’s a great idea to become familiar with the various childcare fees first, along with your eligibility for the child care subsidy before deciding on which childcare option to use.
If you already have a type of service in mind, Vacancy.care is here to help you quickly find the right child care centre for your family. Simply tell us what you need and we’ll send you a curated list of available options in your area to choose from — for free!
How Does the Child Care Subsidy Affect How Much I Pay?
To be eligible to receive a child care subsidy, you must meet the following requirements:
- Your child should be 13 or under and not attend secondary school (unless they’re age 14 to 18 with a disability).
- Your child must meet the immunisation requirements.
- You or your partner must live in Australia and meet the residency requirements.
- An approved child care provider must deliver the service.
- The child care service must not be part of a compulsory education program.
Once you are deemed eligible, you then need to find out what level of child care subsidy your family is entitled to. To do this, three factors are considered:
1. What is your combined family income?
This determines what percentage of the hourly fee you’ll be subsidised.
|Annual Combined Family Income*||Subsidy Rate*|
|Up to $66,958||85%|
|Between $66,958 and $171,958||Gradually reducing to 50%|
|Between $171,958 and $251,248||50%|
|Between $251,248 and $341,248||Gradually reducing to 20%|
|Between $341,248 and $351,248||20%|
|$351,248 and more||0%|
*This table is correct for 2018-19, though it may be subject to change in the following years.
2. What is the activity level of both parents over two weeks?
Recognised activities include work, training courses, education and volunteering. This determines how many hours you can be subsidised for over a fortnight.
|Hours of Activity||Maximum Number of Hours of Subsidy Per Child|
|8 – 16 Hours||36 Hours|
|16 – 48 Hours||72 Hours|
|Over 48 Hours||100 Hours|
3. What type of child care service do you want to use?
The hourly rate cap for that service needs to be taken into account, so this is a primary factor we’ll be looking at more closely.
You can estimate your possible rate on the Child Care Subsidy calculator. Once a decision has been officially made with regards to how much child care subsidy your family is entitled to, the amount is paid directly to your child care provider. The provider will then make up the difference.
What Is an Annual Cap?
If your family earns less than $186,958 per year, you will not be capped on the amount of Child Care Subsidy you can access. However, if your family earns over this amount, but less than $351,248 per year, the maximum amount that the Australian Government will subsidise you is $10,190 per child, per year.
What Is an Hourly Rate Cap?
Each child care service charges their own hourly fee for each hour of care. However, in order to make it very clear on what the Government thinks is reasonable to pay, an hourly cap has been set for every service type.
Therefore, if a centre or service provider charges more per hour than what the hourly cap is, you will have to pay the extra cost. This way, the ball is in your court to find a child care provider that either sits on or under the hourly rate cap if you want to keep the cost low.
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Average Cost of Childcare in Australia
It’s difficult to pinpoint the average cost of child care in Australia due to the many different service options, as well as the varied hours per day and the discrepancy in cost between locations.
However, below is a table which summarises the median cost of child care services in Australia, based on the Early Childhood and Child Care Summary July 2018 Report.
It’s split into different service types, with the average rate per hour multiplied by the average weekly hours, which is then divided by five days. Of course, this is only a rough average, as some families will use their weekly hours in maybe three or four days, as opposed to equally across all five.
|Hourly Rate Cap||Average Rate Per Hour||Average Rate Per Day|
|Outside School Hours Care||$10.29||$7.50||$16.20|
|Family Day Care and In-Home Daycare||$10.90||$8.95||$48.44|
|Centre-Based Day Care||$11.77||$9.60||$54.91|
|Kindergarten and Preschool||The recommended 15 hours are free||Free||Free|
Childcare Cost Per Day in Australia
Looking at the above table, it shows that before and after school child care (outside school hours) has the lowest average cost per day at $16.20, due to fewer hours required (usually only 2 hours in each session).
On the other end of the spectrum, centre-based care (or long day care) has the highest average cost per day.At $54.90, this service offers longer hours and a structured program created by professional educators.
Below, we’ll also discuss the average cost for each service, before Australian Government fee assistance.
Childcare Rates Per Hour
No matter which child care service you choose, you’ll either be charged a specific rate per hour or a session rate for the day. If it’s the latter, divide the daily amount by how many hours your child actually attends a day to give you the exact rate per hour. For example, if it’s $100 a day and your child attends for 10 hours, it’s $10 an hour.
The Early Childhood and Child Care Summary report in September 2018 concluded that the average hourly child care fee for all service types in the June quarter of 2018 was $9.25. This has increased by 3.9 % since the June quarter of 2017.
Depending on which type of approved child care you use, there’s a different hourly rate cap. This means that your Child Care Subsidy percentage will apply to either the hourly rate cap or the child care service hourly fee — whichever is lowest.
Family Day Care Costs and Rates 2019
If you would like a more intimate care experience for your child, family day care is an ideal service, as it offers a natural home environment for a small group of children from an approved educator. Experiences to explore the wider community are also incorporated into this style of child care, such as trips to the local shops or park.
How Much Does Family Daycare Cost Per Day?
For families who use family day care services, the average time spent here on a weekly basis is 27 hours. In conjunction, the average hourly fee is $8.95, so if we’re looking at the medium across five days, family day care services cost approximately $48.44 per day.
Family Day Care Hourly Rate Cap
For family day care services, this hourly rate cap is $10.90. Therefore, if your family care centre charges $10 an hour, and your child care subsidy rate has been determined as 85%, you will receive a subsidy of $8.50 an hour, and will only have to pay the remaining $1.50 an hour.
Kindergarten and Preschool Fees
As state and territory Governments across Australia are largely responsible for their own education, this creates huge inconsistencies between which terms to use at different levels of early childhood education.
However, in our blog post on Types of Child Care Services in Australia, we put together this table to make it a little clearer.
|Year Before School||First Year of School||Second Year of School|
Care provided to children a year before they begin full-time school is referred to as preschool or kindergarten. This year of your child’s education is not compulsory, but it offers a structured, play-based learning program, which is usually provided by a qualified teacher.
Currently, every child across Australia is entitled to Universal Access, which is 15 hours of preschool each week (600 hours over a year) for free. The Commonwealth and individual States jointly fund this to ensure that a quality preschool programme is available for everyone, no matter what your circumstances are. The preschool may still charge a small fee to account for external costs, but you’ll be made aware of this upon enquiry. As states and territories are responsible for supplying preschool or kindergarten services in their area of authority, you can visit Vacancy.care to find a suitable service in your area.
If your state uses the term kindergarten for the first year of school, your child can attend a Government school (also known as public or state school) for free, as long as they’re an Australian citizen or permanent resident. Attendance is funded by the Australian Government, though you are expected to pay for additional costs, such as voluntary contributions, the uniform, lunch, stationery, extra activities and camps etc.
Private school options are also available, either through a religious or independent sector. While the Government does offer a subsidy towards private educational costs, you will need to pay the difference.
In-Home Daycare Rates
In-Home Daycare is an extremely flexible option. It’s a child care service that comes to you, but it also has a focus on quality early childhood education. However, this is targeted at families who need this type of care the most, for example, those who can’t access regular daycare services. Perhaps you work non-standard hours (shift work), you’re geographically isolated from other services, or your family has challenging needs.
How Much Does In-Home Daycare Cost?
The In-Home Care (IHC) program is part of the new child care subsidy system. It’s designed specifically for families with complex needs, and with the recent reform, caters for 3,200 children across Australia.
In the recent Early Childhood and Child Care Summary report, in-home care is categorised with family daycare, which puts the average hourly fee at $8.95. It’s not the best estimation as they’re very different child care services, but the hourly rate cap shines a more accurate light on how much in-home care actually costs.
In-Home Daycare Hourly Rate Cap
As of 1st January 2019, the in-home care hourly rate cap is $32.00 per hour. This is significantly higher than the family daycare hourly rate cap ($10.90), which just goes to show the difference between these two child care sectors, despite them being categorised together for the average cost of care in the recent child care summary report.
However, this higher rate cap was increased especially for in-home care services as a result of the Government listening to families and providers. The Morrison Government released the following statement:
“Families who use IHC are often desperately in need of the education and care IHC supplies. They may have challenging or complex needs such as a disability or serious illness of a family member, be geographically isolated or work non-standard hours. Providing an increase in the rate means these families out of pocket fees will now be affordable.”
How Much Does a Nanny Cost Per Day?
Hiring a nanny is a flexible child care option, in which a professional carer with formal childcare training personally come to your home to take care of your child. During this time, they are responsible for bathing, dressing and preparing food, as well as organising educational activities, crafts and playdates.
It’s a fantastic option, but it can be costly. This is because a child care subsidy can’t be applied unless you are eligible for the IHC program. In such cases, it’s looked upon as a private option, meaning you’ll need to pay for their time and expertise out of your own pocket.
Every nanny will negotiate their own rate per hour, but to guide you on how much you should expect to pay, it’s generally between $18-25 an hour. For a full day, this is roughly $144-200.
How Much Does a Nanny Share Arrangement Cost?
A nanny share arrangement is an affordable alternative to a sole-charge nanny. Two families hire a nanny together and share the services and costs between them. This can take place in one family’s home or they can alternate between the two. his help to manage the cost, but also provides children with the opportunity to form close bonds.
It can take up to three months to find a child care place, but our free concierge service at Vacancy.care will help you find suitable child care within a week. Fill in your details and let us show you!
Before & After School Care Cost and Fees
Before and after school care is a supervised service with a playful nature for primary school-age children outside of school hours.
As many parents have to work outside of standard school hours, this is an extremely helpful and convenient child care option. This type of care is often associated with the school itself, a community organisation or even a private business.
As children have just finished a long day of school (or they’re about to start), recreation activities are encouraged here, such as reading, sports, art or games.
Before School Care Cost
Typically, before school care runs from 6:30 am until 9:00 am. The cost will vary depending on how many hours you would like your child to attend,the area you live in, and the childcare provider you have chosen.
In the Early Childhood and Child Care Summary July 2018 Report, before school care, after school care and vacation care are categorised as Outside School Hours Care.
“Services provide care for school-aged children before and/or after school during the school term. Some services also provide care on ‘pupil free’ days. Vacation Care is also included in this category. Vacation Care services provide care for school children during the school holidays.”
Outside School Hours Care’s average hourly rate is $7.50, while the average time spent in care is 10.8 hours/week. Therefore, we’re looking at a rough average of $16.20 a day.
How Much is After School Care
For after-school care, the hours are usually from 3:00 pm until 6:00 pm. Much like before school care, multiple factors are considered when setting a price, but it is usually around $7.50/hour. For both before and after school care, additional costs may be charged for any late fees or membership requirements.
How Much Does Vacation Care Cost?
School holidays account for 11 weeks of the year, which is a lot more than the 4 weeks of annual full-time workers are generally entitled to. So what’s the solution? Vacation care is a popular option as this child care service looks after children during school holidays. It is usually open from 7:00 am until 6:00 pm during the week, allowing you to continue with your regular routine as normal.
The Early Childhood and Child Care Summary July 2018 Report defines vacation care as part of its Outside School Hours Care data. Subsequently, it makes it a little tricky to calculate an average cost for vacation care due to the inconsistency in the amount of usage for each service. For example, outside care accounts for before and after school care (which can be 2 hours a day) as well as vacation care (which can be 30 hours).
However, if we do our own math and take the average hourly rate for Outside School Hours ($7.50) multiplied by the average length of a school day that vacation care will cover (7 hours a day), then you’re looking to pay around $55 a day. Additional costs may be charged for any excursions.
You can also look at your local Council website for more information on school holiday activities, as they often free or low-cost activities to keep children entertained.
Babysitting Costs, Hourly Rates, Fees and Prices in Australia
If you require temporary child care for a short period of time, you can hire a babysitter. Perhaps you want a date night away from the kids or your regular childminding option has fallen through. Whatever the scenario, a babysitter is an easy and convenient solution.
How Much Does a Babysitter Cost?
A babysitter is often hired casually through a friend or family recommendation,. As it’s sporadic work, many teenagers and young adults are interested in the role. Subsequently, you can often negotiate your own rate of pay, but between $10 and $15 per hour is suggested.
If your babysitter is young, you’ll also have to think about how they will get home (especially if it’s late) so you may have to pay for a taxi.
From this overview on the price of child care in Australia, it’s clear that the different fees and subsidies are complex, due to a combination of factors including, which child care service you choose, how often your child uses the service and how much child care subsidy your family is eligible for.
However, we hope you now have a better understanding on the different factors involved with making your child care decisions and if you require any further assistance about available child care options in your area, get in touch with us at Vacancy.care.