In July 2018 there will be significant changes to the way the Federal government funds child care in Australia. The details are still being sorted out and may change but I am getting asked a lot of questions by Child Care centres so I thought I would share what I understand at this point. In this blog I will try to tackle the changes affecting Enrolments.
In what we might soon start to refer to as the 'good ol days' (that is to say, now) the vast majority of enrolments were either Formal (parent and child CRNs and dates of birth recorded and verified) or Informal (one or more of those pieces of information was not supplied or incorrect).
From July 2018 the terminology will change but in practice this distinction will still exist. Instead of the Enrolment Types we are currently familiar with there will be Enrolment Arrangement Types.
Enrolment Arrangement Types will come in 2 flavours : Compliant Written Agreements (CWAs) and Relevant Arrangements (RAs) . If the parent/guardian wishes to claim the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) either now or at some point then you must use the CWA , if they will never claim CCS then you use an RA.
This is a key distinction. Under current rules an Informal Enrolment could be updated and formalised well after the child has started and even after the child has left. Under new rules if you start under an RA you are stuck. The only method to change your mind is to end the Enrolment and start a new one. Any attendances under the RA will never receive subsidy and you can't go back and change it.
I will be recommending to centers that they start all enrolments under a CWA so they can attach CRNs if and when they become available.
So what's the catch ? As part of the CWA the government requires to know what the fee arrangement will be for that period of care i.e. which days for what periods at what rate plus any arrangements to cover additional casual days or miscellaneous fees.
[START OF RANT] Apparently publishing your fees publicly (for example on the mychild website) isn't sufficent. One might ask why the government in its wisdom decided to introduce a new layer of adminstration instead of just fixing any perceived gaps in the current process ? [END OF RANT]
This information must be updated to the department every time it changes. Software providers will update their systems to streamline this BUT the department will seek independent confirmation from the parent. If the parent fails to confirm the initial fee arrangement no CCS will be paid. If the parent rejects any subsequent change , no CCS will be paid.
If you were in the habit of holding off billing a parent full fees while they tried to get CRNs sorted out, DON'T !
We are working on convincing the department to provide us the 'hooks' to allow that confirmation from the parent to the department to take place as part of an online process when the parent accepts the offer of a place. We will keep you posted on developments.
Will your families be better off or worse off under the new system ?
Invite them to try the government's Child Care Subsidy Estimator and find out.