In Home Childcare: What is it, and Am I eligible?

In Home Childcare is a great alternative for families who need access to early childhood education and care services but who may be in rural or remote locations, who may have variable hours of work, or find themselves with challenging and complex needs when it comes to their family. So what exactly is In Home Childcare? And who is eligible? 

Introduction

Having access to quality early childhood education and care is essential for every child. In the last 10-20 years, there has been a rapid increase in the number of childcare services available. However, a recent article by ABC highlights there is still not enough space in the childcare system. In Home Childcare is a different type of service that may be the perfect solution for parents and carers balancing work commitments or having children with additional needs. Although there are both advantages and disadvantages of In Home Childcare, it is an excellent alternative worth considering for eligible families.

What is In Home Childcare?

In Home Childcare (IHC) is an approved type of childcare service for the Child Care Subsidy, which falls under the Australian Government childcare package. The purpose of IHC is for children to have access to high-quality education in the comfort of their own homes. IHC is targeted at families or carers who cannot access regular approved child care services due to unavoidable circumstances.

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In-home childcare allows families who may have complex family situations, or who are geographically isolated, access to early learning services

How does In Home Childcare work?

Firstly, In Home Childcare support agencies evaluate whether families are eligible for IHC. They then match families to any appropriate IHC service which is available. All IHC services ensure that educators are fit and qualified to deliver the curriculum at home. An educator can care for up to five children (or four children if they are under 5 years old).

 The best part about In Home Childcare is that the program is tailored to children’s interests, abilities, knowledge, and ideas without interfering with the child’s daily routine. A Family Management plan is established between the IHC support agency and the family to ensure the child receives the best quality of care according to their needs.

 Educators who provide In Home Child Care are qualified, holding a minimum of a Certificate 3 level qualification or working towards one. Many might even have a higher qualification such as a Diploma or Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. They will also need to have completed a First Aid course in case of any emergencies, and a Working with Children Check.

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Educators providing In-home Childcare still need a minimum qualification of Cert 3 in Children’s Services (or working towards), as well as First Aid qualification and Working with Children Check.

Who is eligible for In Home Childcare?

According to the Department of Education, there is an eligibility criteria that families must meet to use this type of service. IHC can be accessed by children where one or more of the following circumstances apply:

–        The child has an illness or disability or lives with another child who does.

–        The child’s parent/guardian or partner of the parent/guardian has an illness or disability which impacts their capability to care for the child

–        The child lives in a rural or remote location

–        The child’s parent/guardian or partner of the parent/guardian work hours where no other approved child care setting is available

–        The child’s parent/guardian or partner of the parent/guardian is caring for three or more children who haven’t started school yet

It’s important to note that families accessing IHC may also be eligible for other government payments such as the Additional Child Care Subsidy, so ensure you check your family’s eligibility for that too.

What are the other approved child care types?

When looking at mainstream child care options, there are several different types, all with their pros and cons. These types include:

How much does In Home Childcare cost?

The cost of IHC depends on many different factors. Therefore, agencies can give you a better idea of cost-related details. A rough estimate would be approximately $30-35 per hour, but this will differ depending on the caregivers’ qualifications and experience.

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in home childcare
To receive In home childcare, you must be eligible for the Child Care Subsidy

How does In Home Childcare work with Child Care Subsidy?

To receive In Home care, a person must be eligible for the Child Care Subsidy. The subsidy is a payment made straight to the childcare provider, decreasing the fees you have to pay from your pocket.

 In order to receive the Child Care Subsidy for In Home Care, you must meet the eligibility criteria outlined by the Australian Government.

The primary caregiver or their partner must:

–        Meet residency rules

–        Have at least 14% care or care for the child two nights per fortnight

–        Are liable for fees for care provided at one of the approved child care services

The child must also meet all immunisation requirements to be entitled to receive the subsidy. Another essential factor to consider is that children cannot receive the Child Care Subsidy if they are engaged in formal schooling.

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 All families have different circumstances; the amount you will receive is dependent on your individual circumstances. There are several factors that contribute to the amount of subsidy you can claim.

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This includes:

–        Combined family income

–        The age of your child

–        The number of hours of recognised activity you and your partner are involved in (e.g. employment, education, volunteering etc.)

The In Home Care Estimator is a great tool to use if you are looking for a rough estimate of how much Child care fee assistance you may receive. Simply enter the values in the box to start the estimation.

You can claim the subsidy online through your MyGov account or call the Centrelink Families Line. A new claim will need to be made for each individual child when they start In Home care.

What are the Advantages of In Home Childcare?

  • More economical: the cost of In Home Childcare is often lower than mainstream childcare
  • More personal approach: Fewer children allows for more individual attention
  • Siblings can be together
  • Children’s routines are maintained in the comfort of their own environment
  • Allows child access to quality education and care even in complex family situations
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In home childcare can mean a more personal approach with less children per educator

What are the Disadvantages of In Home Childcare?

  • It may be hard to find educator replacements in case of any emergencies or illness
  • Children may have reduced social opportunities in comparison to regular early learning services
  • Less access to educational resources

How do you apply for In Home Childcare?

First of all, make sure you check the eligibility criteria. If you’re interested in accessing IHC, you can check the contact details of the different IHC agencies according to your state and territory. It is important to note that if more than one service is suggested to the family, they can choose which one they would prefer. Even if families have a particular IHC in mind, they must go through the support agency.

Conclusion

In Home Childcare is a great solution for parents looking for a more flexible option of education and care within your own home environment. There are a number of factors involved in the IHC eligibility criteria but this is a fantastic Child Care package that still allows families who may be geographically isolated or have challenging or complex needs, access to government subsidised child care.

For more information, contact the In Home care support agency in your relevant state.

Have you accessed In Home Child Care before? What has been your experience? Let me know in the comments!   

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