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Your first step into early childhood education & care


Starting Blocks aims to help new parents with their first steps into parenting, especially when it comes to child care options. A topic that’s always of particular interest is the subsidies the Australian Government provides to families of children in child care.

Child Care Subsidy started on 2 July 2018, and is a single, means-tested subsidy paid directly to your child’s care service.

You are eligible if you earn less than $352,453 in combined family income and are undertaking one or more of the following activities for at least 8 hours a fortnight: paid work (includes if you are currently on leave); self-employment; unpaid work in a family business; unpaid work experience or unpaid internship; looking for work; volunteering; training; or studying.

You can find information on the recognised activities and tips to update your activity details on the Department of Human Services website. There are also exemptions for parents who cannot meet the activity requirements.

How much subsidy you receive depends on:

  • your family’s combined income – this is used to calculate the percentage of child care fees you receive a subsidy for
  • the type of care your child is attending – the maximum subsidy you receive per hour depends on the type of care
  • the number of hours you are undertaking the activities outlined above – this is used to calculate the number of hours you can claim the subsidy for.

The following tables are based on the Department of Education's figures for 2019-2020.

Your combined family income and the subsidy you receive:

Combined family income Subsidy received as a percentage of the fee charged
$0 to $68,163 85%
Above $68,163 to below $173,163 Decreasing to 50%
$173,163 to below $252,453 50%
$252,453 to below $342,453 Decreasing to 20%
$342,453 to below $352,453 20%
$352,453 or more 0%


The maximum subsidy you receive per hour depends on the type of care your child attends. In some cases your child’s age will mean there is a different hourly rate cap applied.

Type of child care Hourly rate caps – children below school age Hourly rate caps – school age children
Centre Based Day Care – long day care and occasional care  $11.98 $10.48
Outside School Hours Care – before, after and vacation care $11.98 $10.48
Family Day Care $11.10
In Home Care $32.58 (per family)


As mentioned on the Department of Human Services website, a school aged child is a child who is either:

  • in school, including being home schooled
  • 6 or older.

The first year of recognised primary school depends on the state or territory you live in.

The number of hours you can claim the subsidy for depends on the number of hours you undertake one of the activities outlined above.

If you have a partner, the number of hours is calculated according to the parent with the lowest hours of activity each fortnight. 

Hours of activity per fortnight Maximum number of hours of subsidy per fortnight
Less than 8 hours 0 hours if you earn above $68,163
24 hours if you earn $68,163 or below
More than 8 to 16 hours               36 hours
More than 16 to 48 hours 72 hours
More than 48 hours 100 hours             

More information

The Department of Human Services has detailed information on the Child Care Subsidy. Visit