GREAT SYSTEM: Le Smileys Childcare Centre Michelle O'Rourke with children Annabelle Johnson, Matilda Szepanowski and Chelsea Smyles.
GREAT SYSTEM: Le Smileys Childcare Centre Michelle O'Rourke with children Annabelle Johnson, Matilda Szepanowski and Chelsea Smyles. Allan Reinikka ROK140818achildca

CQ child care centre sees enrolments rise with new system

CENTRAL Queensland childcare centre director and owner Michelle O'Rourke says the changes are the best she has seen.

The owner of Le Smileys Early Learning Centre, Gracemere; a kindergarten at Warraburra and Long Day Kindergarten in Berserker, said the child care package allowed her to change her fees to be more accommodating to families' needs.

Leading up to the change, Ms O'Rourke discussed with each family about how it would affect them.

"There was a lot of work leading up to it and a lot of discussion in sharing information with families,” she said.

"It has paid off because people understand it now.

"It has been a bit time consuming but it is something we needed.

"It is individual and it needs to be discussed as an individual.”

The change to offering hourly sessions such as 12, 10, nine and eight hours compared to a daily fee had changed the business immensely, she said.

"Our non-working family can still access the eight-hour session and it still reaches their need,” she said.

Ms O'Rourke consulted families about what hourly sessions would suit.

READ: Child care fees costing mum more than her weekly wage

"I am locally owned and operated; I have a bit more flexibility than larger companies,” she said.

"We can be more accommodating, we never had the ability to do that before.”

Families have been able to increase their sessions of care as the new system increased their hours.

"A lot of our families are better off by $10 to $20 a week,” Ms O'Rourke said.

"The majority of families are better off.”

From a business perspective, Ms O'Rourke said it had been a great change.

The Gracemere early learning centre is now at capacity with 88 children a day.

"Our enrolments have increased, (and we have) a number of new enrolments and people increasing their days,” she said.

"There has been the odd person it isn't beneficial for.”

Ms O'Rourke encouraged parents and guardians to speak with their service provider.

"They can talk to their provider and see if there is flexibility or options there,” she said.

"People just need to take the time to find the right person to talk to so they can understand the new system.”

Child care fees changes
Child care fees changes Centro

Key notes in the new system

ON JULY 2, the Child Care Subsidy replaced the previous child care assistance payments, child care benefit, and rebates.

The new subsidy is generally paid directly to the approved child care provider.

The new system replaces all the other previous ones and is one single, means-tested subsidy.

Required information includes estimated income for 2018/19 and approximate work hours for both parents.

Under the new system, both parents must be working, studying, volunteering or searching for work at least eight hours a fortnight to be eligible for the subsidies.

The recognised activities includes paid work, including leave, such as maternity leave, study and training, unpaid work in family business, looking for work, volunteering, self-employment, or other activities on a case-by-case basis.

It is aimed to be an improvement on the previous multi-payment system and better targeted in providing more assistance to low and middle income families.

A new Child Care Safety Net is also being rolled out, supporting vulnerable children.

The Additional Child Care Subsidy is a top-up payment in addition to the Child Care Subsidy.

It provides extra support for children at risk of serious abuse or neglect, grandparent principal carers on income support and families experiencing temporary financial hardship.

This subsidy equals 100 per cent of the actual fee charge, up to 120 per cent of the hourly rate cap and up to 100 hours of assistance per fortnight.

Parents transitioning to work from income support can access a subsidy equal to 95 per cent of the actual fee charged.

The new subsidy is not an automatic roll over.

Parents need to supply information and confirm current details using your Centrelink online account through myGov.

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