Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

Child Care Benefit

A year after the introduction of Child Care Benefit (CCB), Federal Minister for Community Services, Larry Anthony today said child care services will need to account for their previous advances to receive their next advance.

“The first year of the new CCB has been one of transition. We have given child care services more time to provide their acquittal reports as services became familiar with the new system.

“It is now time for all child care services to account for the public money they have received. The Family Assistance Office (FAO) needs to receive and process information by the end of this week to ensure benefits are passed on to parents.

“These details are necessary to ensure parents receive their correct entitlement. For parents who have elected to receive their CCB in a lump sum, their details need to be reconciled so they can receive the money they are entitled to.

“Also, in many cases, parents will be eligible for a top-up payment and for families who have a debt of up to $1,000, their details have to be checked to have that debt waived.

“This is not news to child care services and the majority have already complied. Services were advised in the June 2001 edition of Child Care News and by letter in late August 2001 that the special arrangements would soon come to an end.

“This does not affect services receiving extra help to complete their reports from FAO staff. They will continue to receive this valuable assistance and their advances will not be affected. Services unable to lodge their records should contact FAO as soon as possible on ph 1800 050 021 so alternative arrangements can be made.

“Further to this, I have asked the Department of Family and Community Services and FAO to work closely with the sector to see how the CCB system can be made more efficient and streamlined.

“This is already progressing through the CCB reference group, which is made up of all the peak Commonwealth child care organisations. This group has been instrumental in working through the issues as they have arisen.

“CCB has changed the way child care assistance is provided and there have been some hiccups. I am pleased the childcare sector has worked with us to get through these problems.”

President of the Australian Federation of Child Care Associations, Gwynn Bridge said, “the Government has been more than fair and reasonable and had supported services needing help. It’s time now for the advance system to work the way it was intended.”

Chairperson of the National Out of School Hours Services Association, Robyn Munro Miller, was pleased the Government was taking steps to support services adjusting to the CCB arrangements and that safeguards would remain in place to protect services that were still being assisted by the Family Assistance Office.

“The introduction of CCB has meant that families now have greater choice in affordable, flexible and accessible child care. The Government has spent $4.3 billion on child care over the last four year – 30 per cent more than Labor’s last four years. We have also committed an unprecedented $6 billion for the next four years,” Mr Anthony said.

“Due to our record spending on child care, there are 2,000 more child care services providing more than 150,000 additional places. Child care costs have also come down by 8.7 per cent over the last year.

“This Government is committed to providing quality child care and supporting both parents and child care services,” Mr Anthony said.