Confused by talk of the Government’s new Nanny program? Read on for a simple explanation and to whether this applies to your family…
Returning to work after having a baby (or two!) is a stressful time. When you’re pregnant, you agree a return to work date with your employer. As that date hurtles toward you the need to have appropriate childcare secured becomes very real. If a childcare placement is offered ahead of your intended return to work date, you have to decide whether to grab it (and leave baby earlier than planned) or take your chances. All too often, the return to work date arrives and all you’ve been offered is one day at one centre and maybe another day somewhere else. And that’s for the majority of working mothers who work regular hours and live in populated areas.
The childcare problem is even greater for those caring for a child with special needs, working irregular hours or living in a remote location where providers are scarce and prices can be higher than inner Sydney. The daycare model is not a one size fits all solution. The hours are restricted. You have to pay for a full day even if you only require a few hours in most cases. Occasional care isn’t guaranteed. Many families have no choice but turn to personalised care – either leaning heavily on the grandparents, or hiring a nanny or au pair.
In response to these very real issues, the Australian Government has initiated a Nanny Pilot Programme. The draft guidelines were released for comment in July 2015. The Pilot Programme is a one off look into the real lives of ordinary Australians struggling to find suitable child care. It is focused on providing fee assistance to those families having difficulties accessing mainstream child care. The Pilot Programme will inform future policy decisions on fee assistance for child care in the family home.
The Pilot Programme commences in January 2016 and will run for two years, providing employment to approximately 4,000 nannies and 10,000 children. As usual, there is a range of eligibility criteria for families who wish to express an interest in participating in the Pilot Programme, including family income thresholds and immunisation requirements. There is a priority of placement approach focused on families:
- that live in remote areas,
- are geographically isolated from mainstream childcare,
- that work non-standard hours,
- that have children with additional support needs.
The amount of subsidy provided is linked to household income, the number of children and the number of hours of care. In the Draft Guidelines it ranges from $5.95 per child per hour to a minimum of $3.50 per child per hour, however these guidelines are subject to change.
It’s important to note that this is not an ongoing government programme and it is not open for anyone who meets the eligibility criteria and priority of placement list. It’s a test run. If you don’t apply, you may miss out altogether. You won’t be able to rock up to Centrelink and access this at a later date.
The application process for families will be advertised on the Department of Social Services website. You can also contact the policy team at HomeBasedNannies@dss.gov.au