The federal government will spend an extra $3.
2 billion on childcare subsidies over the next four years,Tuesday’s budget confirmed.
This is on top of the $7 billion a year – and rising – existing price tag for subsidising fees.
Parents will get a single, streamlined payment to help cover childcare costs, including after-school care, once the new system comes fully into effect from July 2017.
The government says the new system addresses long-held frustrations parents have navigating existing subsidy schemes.
How much they receive depends on household income and how many hours parents work each fortnight.
The subsidy will be paid directly to childcare centres.
Most families with both parents working will get more taxpayer-funded help than they do now.
“There’s 165,000 parents that want to work more but haven’t got the affordable or accessible or flexible child care that would help them,” Treasurer Joe Hockey told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.
The childcare rebate and benefit and other payments under the existing system will continue until mid-2017.
The government plans to contact all families using child care soon to explain what new support will be available to them.
It hopes the increase in funding to help pay fees will lead to an increase in places.
To fund the new subsidies, the government wants stalled cuts to family tax benefits from last year’s budget to clear the Senate.\
Parents who hire nannies can also apply for taxpayer support in a $246 million trial running throughout 2016 and 2017.
The trial, aimed especially at shift workers and those in regional areas, will be evaluated during 2017 and if it meets its aim of allowing parents to work more the subsidies will be retained.
There’s also an $869 million “childcare safety net” to cover extra care costs for at-risk children, those in disadvantaged communities and kids with additional needs.
The national quality framework, which mandates qualifications and numbers of workers, will be kept with $61 million of funding set aside for the next three years.
For children not quite at school yet, the federal government will give states and territories an extra $843 million for another two years of a program that guarantees 15 hours a week of preschool to four-year-olds.
WHAT’S IN THE BUDGET FOR CHILD CARE
* $3.2 billion extra to subsidise childcare fees
* Payment levels depend on parental income and how much they work
* $156 million for further fee subsidies for at-risk children
* $304 million to increase access to child care in disadvantaged communities
* $409 million to help families whose kids have additional needs such as disabilities
* $843 million to guarantee four-year-olds a preschools spot for 2016 and 2017
* National quality framework extended for extra three years at cost of $61.1 million