The Australian Childcare Alliance (ACA) is a not-for-profit, member-funded organisation advocating for the future of Australia's children.
We work on behalf of long day care owners and operators to ensure families and their children have an opportunity to access affordable, high quality early learning services throughout Australia.


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SMALL Brunette teacher with glasses and kids at table

 

Over the last few months, the new Child Care Subsidy (CCS) has been the main focus of the early learning sector, with the implementation date set for 2 July this year.

ACA ran a short sharp survey to ask our members how they were feeling about the impending implementation of the new Child Care Subsidy as the transition date approached, and the key areas for which they needed guidance. Many thanks to those of you who took the time to complete our quick quiz! 

 

With the changes surrounding this new subsidy model affecting more than 17,000 early learning service providers across Australia and over 1.2 million families using early learning services, it's imperative that our collective experiences are passed back to the relevant government departments. 

  

So what was the sentiment among the early learning sector?

Overall our members felt they were on track operationally, and commended ACA for providing them with detailed guidance in the lead up.

 

Survey CCS image 29.06.2018a 

 

However approximately one third of the sample reported that they were feeling terrible and that it was all too hard, with comments including:

  • “So much to take in and still look after children”
  • “More support and information should have been supplied by government”
  • “Had to pay someone to sort it out”
  • “Very nervous that the new system won’t work and there will be delays to payments”
  • “Sessions are causing drama and hourly rate not popular!” 

 

What was the biggest challenge in getting services ready? 

In terms of the biggest challenge in getting their service ready for the new CCS, the majority of our members indicated that the entire collection of processes was challenging, with educating families rated individually as the biggest hurdle.

 

Survey CCS 29.06.2018B

 

Comments included: 

  • “Seriously exhausting”
  • “Very confusining for all involved”
  • “Lack of training and support for rural areas”
  • “We would never introduce a change within our service and be this unprepared and unorganized. We have so many families who’ve registered but it’s not showing up and with 2 weeks to go we still can’t quote families for fees, it’s pretty frustrating”

 

What were the key issues the sector needed guidance on?

At the national level, as the transition date grew closer, many of our members were seeking information about:

  • what sort of resources they could use to help explain to families what they need to do
  • in particular service providers were seeking greater guidance for families on how to do the activity test.
    This included translated materials for families from Non-English Speaking Backgrounds (NESB).
    The NESB materials provided by DET only covered high level content and did not explain the activity test.
    Some of our members organised face to face sessions with their families, with a translator present, to explain how to do the activity test. 
  • technical difficulties and lack of clarity re setting their centre up on the Provider Entry Point (PEP) 
  • confusion around the role of the Provider Entry Point (PEP)as distinct from PRODA 
  • what they were required to do in setting up their Complying Written Arrangements (CWAs)
  • how the hourly rate calculations and the new system would affect their service viability
  • the requirements for recording attendance data
  • the readiness of their third party software provider 
  • how and when their families could find out their eligible hours of subsidised care and their hourly rate subsidy level

 

Any ongoing issues after 2 July? 

In the weeks after the transition date, we'll be keen to hear feedback from our members and their families, about how the new regime has affected them.
We'll run another quick survey to capture your experiences and/or thoughts. 

 

ACA ongoing engagement with government

ACA’s regular engagement with members provided us with an enormously valuable set of experiences to relay back to the Department of Education and Training (DET) and the Department of Human Services (DHS) with suggested improvements. 

 

This included our recommendations: 

  • to delay the Child Care Subsidy System (CCSS) requirement for attendance times on a daily basis - the government has since postponed this requirement for six months until January 2019.
  • to decrease the applicable withholding rate in relation to the CCS from 10% to 5%, to allow struggling families more access to the immediate subsidy – the government has since made this adjustment. 

We will continue to engage with relevant government departments and provide our feedback during the months after 2 July as early learning services and families  adjust to the new regime.

 

In the meantime we thank you for your valuable feedback about adjusting to the new CCS via our surveys and your conversations with your ACA state bodies.

  

Further information about the transition to the new Child Care Subsidy

ACA has produced a handy checklist for service providers and also a checklist for families, to help them through the transition to the new Child Care Subsidy.

For further information about the Child Care Subsidy, visit ACA’s central hub of CCS-related information at www.childcarealliance.org.au/ccs.

Early learning service providers can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter