Breaking Down The Costs Of Early Childhood Education

Early childhood education (ECE) teaches children as young as five years old, or before they enter full-time school. While informal and play-based, ECE is a structured programme that prepares young children to succeed in the real world. As such, it is commonly referred to as child care, though some may be more familiar with the terms preparatory (prep) or kindergarten education.

Here’s a closer look at early childhood education, its costs, and the Australian government’s childcare subsidies.

Learning about early childhood education

Every child has the right to essential services, including education, and states are responsible for providing them. Education programmes and subsidies are available worldwide to struggling families, particularly those with low incomes.

In Australia, children are entitled to 600 hours of preschool per year, or 15 hours per week, which are available in both government and private-run childcare facilities. As a result, childcare fees and prices vary by setting.

In Australia, there are several ways to get early childhood education or childcare, including:

Home-based childcare: For young children who are cared for at home by a parent, relative, or nanny.

Prep schools and kindergartens are examples of centre-based childcare, where parents can send their children to learn under the supervision of qualified childcare teachers and socialise with other children their age.

Family daycare: A hybrid of the previous types, family daycare settings involve professional educators running childcare programmes out of their homes.

Temporary admissions are available at some centre-based and family childcare services, which are ideal for parents with erratic work schedules or other emergencies. Furthermore, some businesses, such as shopping malls, charge a fee for child care services. However, because these facilities are not solely dedicated to ECE, they may lack qualified early childhood educators.

What is the cost of early childhood education?

According to the most recent government data, the national average childcare cost in 2019 was AUD$9.95. According to the same report, total childcare subsidies for the fourth quarter of 2019 totalled $2.14 billion, with 44.9% of children aged 0-5 years and 32.3% of children aged 0-12 years enrolled in approved childcare service providers.

After preschool and kindergarten, parents can enrol their children in government, Catholic, and independent schools. In general, public schools are the least expensive, while private schools are the most expensive.

According to a 2022 survey conducted by one of Australia’s leading financial firms, government schools in Sydney are the most expensive in the country, costing AUD$92,000. In comparison, Melbourne and Brisbane are more affordable, with average prices of AUD$89,000 and AUD$75,000, respectively. In contrast, Sydney’s Catholic schools have lower rates of AUD$132,000 compared to Brisbane’s rate of AUD$158,000.

Aside from tuition, additional school costs may include:

Books and educational materials Uniform Extracurricular activities (for older children) Tutorial services Trips and excursions Library or school construction and development funds

These extra costs range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. They differ depending on the school and grade level.

Subsidies from the government

To ensure that no child is left behind, the government subsidises qualified individuals or families’ childcare costs. This means that, depending on your circumstances, you may be able to have specific childcare fees waived.

Child care assistance (CCS)

The Department of Human Services, now renamed Services Australia, administers the Child Care Subsidy (CCS), which pays childcare providers to offer fee reductions to qualified families.

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Your child is under the age of 13 and does not attend secondary school.
  • Your child has a disability and is under the age of 18.
  • Your child has completed all required immunisations.
  • You and your partner are eligible for residency.
  • Your child is enrolled in a licenced childcare facility, and your childcare service is not part of a mandatory education programme.

Additional child care assistance (ACCS)

Individuals who are CCS-eligible can receive additional assistance through the Additional Child Care Subsidy in the following situations: Families experiencing financial hardship Caring for a child at risk of harm, neglect, or abuse Families transitioning from income support to work Eligible grandparents receiving income support payments

The subsidy can be used by a parent, stepparent, foster parent, grandparent, or relative-primary carer. It is best to check the government website for the most up-to-date information and eligibility requirements before filing your claim.

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How much childcare assistance are you eligible for?

After your eligibility is confirmed, an assessment will be performed. Typically, the subsidy amount or percentage will be determined by the following factors:

The combined income of your family Your child’s age The number of children enrolled in childcare facilities The type of childcare service you use Parents’ activities while their child is in care (i.e., working, seeking employment, studying, etc.)

According to the Services Australia website, families earning up to AUD$72,466 are eligible for 85% childcare cost rebates. Those earning between AUD$72,466 and AUD$177,466 receive 50 to 85 percent discounts, with 1% deducted for every AUD$3,000 in family earnings.

CCS revisions

However, the website also stated that families earning less than AUD$530,00 would be eligible for higher CCS beginning July 10, 2023. The maximum CCS income limit will be raised. Families earning more than AUD$80,000, for example, will see a 1% deduction for every AUD$5,000 earned. According to the agency, these changes will take effect automatically.
With these developments, you can use the childcare fees calculator to determine how much subsidy percentage you are entitled to.

Finally, consider the following:

Early childhood education is generally expensive, regardless of where you live. In Australia, the government provides financial assistance to significantly reduce childcare costs and fees. Navigating the CCS and ACCS programmes, on the other hand, may be too difficult for some.

For eligibility questions, contact Services Australia or ask your preschool or childcare staff. It is important to note that childcare subsidies are only available to authorised facilities, so you must select an accredited and reputable provider.

We strongly recommend you trial our childcare subsidy calculator or book a tour today if you would like to begin your journey at Little Scribblers ELC.

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