To help plan for the financial impact of going back to work after a baby, we asked the Minister for Education and Training, Simon Birmingham, to share some practical tips for parents to consider. With the new Child Care Subsidy starting from 2 July 2018, it’s important to understand these changes and what they mean for planning your child care expenses.
Returning to work after having a baby can sometimes be a challenging transition for parents and children. This important event can affect much more than their everyday lives, it also can affect a family’s finances.
Most families require child care at some stage or another, so if you’re planning to return to work or study it’s a good idea to plan ahead and prepare for child care, particularly financially, to ensure you’ve put your best foot forward.
- Talk about it – Have detailed conversations with your partner or family about care arrangements for the child and whether you will need to address your spending and saving patterns ahead of time.
- Think about your work-life balance – Think about how you might want to return to your job, study or training commitments and the hours you might want to undertake each week, for example you might only want to return part-time at first.
- Find out what’s available – There are a variety of child care service types that families can choose from. It can be a little overwhelming at first to decide what might suit your family best, so take some time to look at your options. Depending on your circumstances, you might want your child in a home-like environment that family day care services offer, or you might require long day care or a service that offers occasional care. Spend some time researching the different types of child care services available in your local area and decide what type of service best suits your family’s needs.
- Know your budget – Child care fees can vary in price depending on the type of service you use, whether they offer extras like food, nappies or excursions, the location of the service, and the number of hours your child requires care for. Understanding your family’s budget will greatly help in managing your family’s expenses. Try out ASIC MoneySmart’s Budget Planner to understand your family’s expenses and budget.
- Understand the New Child Care Package – Families don’t need to cover the entire cost of child care fees themselves. The Government supports parents through their child care fee assistance schemes and will soon be introducing a New Child Care Package to provide more support for more families. From 2 July this year, the current Child Care Rebate and Child Care Benefit will be replaced by a single Child Care Subsidy. Three things will determine how much subsidy families can access including: their combined family income, the activity level of parents, and the type of child care service they use.
The new Package has been designed with families in mind and an understanding that many parents needed more support to get back to work. It’s important to know that the transition to the new Child Care Subsidy is not an automatic rollover and if you do not complete your assessment before 2 July 2018, you may not receive any child care fee assistance. You can do this online now through your myGov account. For more information on this process, visit education.gov.au/ChildCarePackage.
Simon Birmingham has served as a Liberal Party Senator for South Australia since May 2007 and in September 2015 was appointed as Minister for Education and Training. He has two young daughters and his family has been part of the child care system.
For a summary of the changes and what it will mean for your family, you can also read What you need to know about the new government Child Care Subsidy.