In a life threatening emergency dial Triple Zero (000)

In a life threatening emergency dial Triple Zero (000)
ACT Public Hospitals

Canberra Hospital

5124 0000


Calvary Hospital

6201 6111

Mental Health

Call Mental Health Triage on

1800 629 354

(free call except from mobiles or public phones) or

6205 1065

Poisons Hotline

For a poison emergency in Australia call

131126

Drug and Alcohol Help Line

The Drug and Alcohol Help Line is available 24-hours, 7 days a week on

5124 9977

Health Protection Service

For after hours urgent public health matters including environmental health, radiation safety, food poisoning and communicable disease management phone:

(02) 6205 1700

healthdirect

24 hour health advice

1800 022 222

ACT State Emergency Service

Emergency help
during flood or storms

132 500


Finance matters

In this section: Learn about the financial matters that affect you as a carer, from your fortnightly subsidy and what it covers, to allowances and other concessions available to you or the child in your care.

Important: Financial subsidies can change each financial year. The subsidies are updated annually and published in subsidies and financial support guides that will be provided to you by either CYPS or ACT Together. Note: CYPS and ACT Together have separate guides.

Overview

Financial support is available to kinship and foster carers to help support the costs of caring. This includes, but is not limited to, a fortnightly subsidy, medical costs, passport application and payments of support outlined in the child’s Case Plan.

Either CYPS or ACT Together will be responsible for providing you with financial support. Which agency will typically be the same as where your case manager is from. For example:

  • If you are a kinship carer caring for a child on an interim or short-term Care and Protection Order:
    • CYPS is responsible for the payment of your subsidy, as well as other costs associated with the care and support of the child.
  • If you are a foster carer of a child on any order, or a kinship carer caring for a child on a long-term Care and Protection Order:
    • ACT Together is responsible for payment of your subsidy, as well as other costs associated with the care and support of the child.

Before learning about the different forms of financial support, it is good to know about Centrelink’s Non-parent carer support service. This includes a dedicated advisor line just for carers that will help you find out more about the financial supports and services offered to carers by the Australian Government. Advisor line staff understand the role of kinship and foster carers and are experienced in helping make sense of what you and the child in your care are entitled to. They can help you understand things like the family tax benefit, childcare benefit, carer payment and allowance, youth allowance, Austudy and Abstudy.

For any questions or information contact the Non-parent carer support advisor line by:

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Foster and kinship care subsidy

The Foster and Kinship Care Subsidy (Carer Subsidy) is paid to you based on the age of the child in your care. It is intended to contribute to the cost of living regardless of the complexity of the child’s needs. This includes things such as food, clothing, recreational activities, haircuts and pocket money.

Things to know about your Carer Subsidy:

  • the payment rate changes each financial year
  • payments are made fortnightly in arrears
  • payments are tax free and are not means-tested
  • payments are not affected by other Australian Government benefits you or the child may be receiving (for example, youth allowance), with the exception of the Extended Continuum of Care subsidy
  • payments stop when the child leaves your care. Any payments made after this time will be recovered. Contact your case manager immediately if you think there has been an overpayment.

For any questions about the Carer Subsidy refer to your subsidies and financial support guide or speak to your case manager.

In addition to this, there are other subsidies also available depending on your situation. The table below provides details about these.

Subsidy What the subsidy covers
Foster and Kinship Care Subsidy (Carer Subsidy) and Enduring Parental Responsibility (EPR) Contributes towards the daily costs of caring for a child. For example: food, household provisions, household expenses, clothing, footwear, school wear, education, daily travel, suitable car restraints, general medical, pharmaceuticals, general communication costs, gifts, pocket money, holidays, hobbies, activities.

No further financial support payments can be claimed under an EPR.

Extended Continuum of Care May be paid in eligible cases where a young person’s (18-20 inclusive) Transition Plan identifies they would be best supported by continuing to live with their carer.

Carers of young people who turn 18 years old can apply for an extension of the Carer Subsidy. To be eligible, the young person must have a ‘transition to adulthood’ plan (Transition Plan) stating they will continue to live with their carer and proof of residence with their carer.

If this relates to your situation, and you would like to apply, contact your case manager. Payment is subject to an approval and review process.

Emergency Care Subsidy Provided to kinship and foster carers when emergency action sees a child needing to come into care with less than 24-hours’ notice. This subsidy is paid for a maximum of 21 days to assist with the daily costs of caring for the child, while a longer-term arrangement is being organised.
Respite Care Subsidy Contributes towards the temporary costs of caring for a child who is given respite from their usual kinship or foster carer on an overnight basis.

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Financial support payments

Financial support payments aim to help you pay for certain expenses that fall outside the Carer Subsidy, including both therapeutic and non-therapeutic expenses. These expenses are based on the individual circumstances of the child you are caring for and the amount you are seeking. Financial support payments do not apply to children under Enduring Parental Responsibility (EPR) orders. For children in residential care, other arrangements apply. Speak with your case manager if you require information.

Your case manager can approve and arrange payment for expenses identified in the child’s Case Plan, or have been previously agreed to.

While financial support payments can cover many expenses, it is important you get approval from your case manager before making any purchases, as without this, reimbursement cannot be guaranteed and you may end up out of pocket.

Financial support payments are managed as reimbursements. All agreed expenses are first paid for by you, and later reimbursed once you have provided your case manager with the relevant documentation. Reimbursements usually happen within 10–14 days where possible. If this arrangement poses financial issues for you, please discuss it with your case manager before incurring any cost. It is important to keep a record of what you have claimed and check it off against your receipts.

The following tables outline the types of expenses you can and cannot seek reimbursement for through a financial support payment. Remember, reimbursement is based on the individual circumstances of the child in your child and the amount you are seeking. Specific details of the financial support payments are updated annually in subsidies and financial support guides from CYPS and ACT Together and will be provided to you. Be aware CYPS and ACT Together have separate guides. It is important you refer to the guide specific to the agency responsible for the case management of the child in your care. The information in the following tables is a guide and correct at time of printing.

Expenses that will be paid as a financial support payment

Expense

Reimbursement

Driving lessons and associated costs

  • Limited professional lessons per child.
  • Insurance excess coverage for a limited period (if required on carer’s car).

Medical / Dental / Optical

  • Reimbursement for the gap amount after Medicare payment in circumstances where the gap is above a certain threshold.

Supported contact

  • Costs associated with a child’s approved contact with birth family or significant others. For example: travel to supported contact at a specific travel rate, taxi, transport by carer, hire car, food and activities for contact.

Excess travel

  • Mileage reimbursement where a carer is required to travel significant kilometres per week per child for the ongoing care of the child. For example: travel to school, attendance at appointments, sport/hobby activities.

Note: Carers must maintain and provide a mileage record sheet that logs the date and kilometres travelled, and purpose of the trip.

Expenses that may be paid as a financial support payment

Expense

Reimbursement

Childcare

(Including before and after school care)

  • Depending on the child’s individual circumstances, childcare may be considered an option. However childcare may not be appropriate for all children. Discuss with your case manager.
  • A percentage of childcare costs may be   contributed in circumstances where childcare is required for employment   related reasons or when in the child’s best interests (for example, opportunity to socialise with peers).
  • If childcare is deemed suitable, carers must register for the   Australian Government’s Child Care Subsidy. The Child Care Subsidy is paid directly to your childcare provider to reduce the fees you have to pay.
  • A percentage of out of pocket expenses may be reimbursed by CYPS or ACT Together. For   reimbursement of childcare costs, invoices must be made out in the carer’s name.

Education and private school fees

  • Costs associated with vocational programs, specific needs for a special program/purpose, obtaining employment.
  • Limited university fees
  • Laptops/computers dependant on individual circumstances.

Note: It is expected children in care attend government schools. Only in exceptional circumstances will reimbursement for private/independent school fees be considered. These will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

International travel

  • International travel costs associated with specific purposes. For example: education, sport   participation, cultural school trip.
  • Passport fees (for the child).

Note: Reimbursement for international travel is considered on a discretionary one-off basis. It will not be given for the purpose of family holidays. A minimum of four months’ notice must be given when requesting a passport or seeking approval for a child in care to travel overseas.

Health and safety

  • Costs associated with the purchase of fire blankets, first aid certificate, fire extinguishers or other safety items where necessary.

Vacation care

  • A contribution per child, per year, where special circumstances exist.

Note: Vacation care, holiday camps and holiday programs are generally covered under the Carer Subsidy. This additional payment may be agreed in advance where special circumstances exist.

Special equipment

  • Costs associated with furniture or special equipment required to set up proper care for a child entering care

Note: Any purchase remains with the child throughout their time in care. If the child is under two years old, the item should be returned to the relevant agency (CYPS or ACT Together) to provide to other children when required.

Other one-off expenses

  • Any other expenses not covered by the Carer Subsidy may be considered.
  • Reimbursement for damage or injury caused by a child in care in exceptional circumstances only may be considered.

Expenses that will not be paid as a financial support payment

The following expenses are generally covered under the Carer Subsidy. See your agency’s relevant subsidies and financial support guide for specific details.

Expense

Reimbursement

General accommodation and food costs

  • Includes special dietary needs, cleaning and maintenance of home, general utilities (gas, electricity, water, phone),   toys, gifts, presents.

Baby sitting and occasional care

-

General clothing and footwear

  • Includes school clothing and footwear.

General education costs

  • Includes all ACT Government school and preschool costs, elective and subject costs, books, stationery materials and equipment, school formals, school photos, excursions, camps, tutoring.
  • Voluntary contributions.

Note: Financial school contributions are voluntary. It is CYPS policy not to pay voluntary contributions to government schools. No child will be refused benefits or services if a contribution is not made.

Aftercare assistance

  • Aftercare assistance is considered as part of   a child’s Transition Plan. Your case manager will discuss this with you at   that time.

General practitioner / Dental / Optical / Therapy services

  • Includes general pharmaceutical needs and out   of pocket expenses before Medicare gap.

Haircuts / Tattoos / Piercings

  • Birth parents’ permission must be obtained to change a child’s appearance by hairstyle or invasive process when the child is on a short-term or interim Care and Protection Order.

Stolen goods replacement

  • Where the goods are the child’s property.

Activities / Entertainment / Holidays

  • Includes leisure, hobby and non-school sporting activities, as well as cultural activities and holidays. All children in care should participate in at least one ongoing activity   throughout the year.

Pet / Pet costs

  • A child should not have sole responsibility for a pet’s care.

General travel

  • Reasonable travel required for the ongoing   care of the child. For example: travel to school, attendance at appointments,   sport/hobby activities.

Communication costs

  • Includes phone, mobile phones, phone cards and Internet costs.

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Children with additional needs or disability

Financial support for a child with additional needs can be provided if recommended as part of the child’s therapeutic assessment and is incorporated into their Case Plan. These recommendations generally include funding for relevant therapeutic support services. If financial support is agreed to, payments will be made directly to the relevant service provider.

In addition, if you care for a child with a disability or chronic medical condition, you may be eligible for other Australian Government carer payments to help meet the associated costs. The main types of assistance available to you are the:

  • Carer Allowance – For carers who provide additional daily care and attention to a dependent child with a disability or medical condition, even if you work or study. More information on the Carer AllowanceExternal Link
  • Carer Payment – For carers unable to work because of the demands required to care for a child with a disability or special needs. You may be eligible if you provide constant care to the child and are not away from them for more than 25 hours per week to attend work. More information on the Carer PaymentExternal Link
  • Carer Supplement – An annual lump sum to assist with the cost of caring for a person with a disability. You may be eligible if you receive a Carer Allowance or Carer Payment. More information on the Carer SupplementExternal Link
  • Carer Adjustment Payment – A one-off payment for carers not eligible for income support who care for a child under seven years old diagnosed with a severe disability or severe medical condition. You may be eligible if there is a strong need for financial support following the diagnosis. You must also already be receiving the Carer Allowance and apply within two years of the diagnosis. More information on the Carer Adjustment paymentExternal Link

The child you are caring for may also be eligible for disability support payments from the Australian Government. You are encouraged to contact Centrelink’s non-parent carer support advisor line to discuss the child’s situation and determine what assistance may be available to you both – see ‘Supports and services’. Also see ‘Caring for a child with a disability or chronic illness’.

National Disability Insurance Scheme

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) provides funding for reasonable and necessary services for eligible children with a permanent disability or significant impairment that affects their participation in everyday activities. The NDIS is operated by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).

If you are caring for a child with a disability, your case manager will work with you to discuss the child’s needs, including possible support through the NDIS.

If the child already has an NDIS plan, your case manager or the NDIA will provide you with a copy of their plan and ensure you are aware of the services and supports in place for them. If this has not happened, make sure to raise it with your case manager.

For more information visit the National Disability Insurance Scheme website.

For more about caring for a child with a disability, see ‘Caring for a child with a disability or chronic illness’.

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Childcare

If childcare is to be used for the child in your care, you are required to apply to Centrelink for the Child Care Subsidy to help cover the childcare cost. The amount you receive will depend on your circumstances. Centrelink will consider your family income, the hourly rate cap of the specific type of care you use, and the child's age. If you are a grandparent of the child, you may also be eligible for Centrelink’s Additional Child Care Subsidy.

In addition, CYPS or ACT Together may also reimburse you a percentage of the out of pocket cost of childcare. Speak to your case manager about this. If reimbursements are agreed to, invoices and receipts must be made out in your name.

The following briefly explains what you should do to ensure you receive financial assistance if childcare is to be used for the child in your care.

  • If the child is not already enrolled, discuss childcare options with your case manager and enrol them with an approved provider (not all providers fall under the Child Care Subsidy). Special agreement from your case manager is needed to use a provider where the Child Care Subsidy cannot be claimed.
  • Register with Centrelink to apply for the Child Care Subsidy. If you do not register, additional funding assistance from CYPS or ACT Together will not be provided.
  • The Child Care Subsidy will be paid directly to your childcare provider to reduce the fees you need to pay.
  • Pay the remaining fee to your childcare provider and ensure invoices, statements and receipts are written in your name, not CYPS or ACT Together.
  • Provide your childcare statement showing evidence of your payment, plus receipts, to CYPS or ACT Together (whichever is responsible for your case management) who will reimburse you a percentage of the out of pocket childcare cost.
  • CYPS – Email your documentation to CYPSfinance.act.gov.au or mail them to GPO Box 785, Canberra ACT 2601.
  • ACT Together – Email your documentation to your case manager.

You are encouraged to contact Centrelink’s non-parent carer support advisor line to understand what childcare subsidies you may be eligible for. You can do this by:

You can also use Centrelink’s Payment and Service Finder External Link to estimate how much you may receive from the Child Care Subsidy.

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Other government assistance

Both the Australian and ACT governments provide a range of other financial assistance you or the child in your care can access. The tables below provide some of these supports. For more detailed information visit:

Australian Government assistance

Support type

Description

Health Care Card

All children in care are eligible for a Health Care Card. It provides access to various health services including, but not limited, to bulk bill medical services, PBS medications, the Child Dental Benefits Schedule and the Spectacle Support Scheme.

Transition to Independent Living Allowance (TILA)

TILA is a non-cash payment from the Australian Government of up to $1500 in value to assist children aged 15 to 25 years meet some of the costs involved in moving from a care arrangement to independent living. It can provide assistance with, but is not limited to, housing, essential household items, life skills training, employment or education expenses, transport and counselling. More information on the TILA allowanceExternal Link

ACT Government assistance

Support type

Description

Bus passes

All children with a Health Care Card attending an ACT Government school, are eligible for a term bus pass if they live more than:

  • one kilometre from their primary school, or
  • two kilometres from their high school, college or CIT campus.

Applications must be made before the start of the school term and are available on the Assistance websiteExternal Link

ACT Spectacle Subsidy Scheme

The ACT Spectacles Subsidy Scheme provides a subsidy for optical care. For the child in your care to be eligible, they must live in the ACT and have a Health Care Card that has been valid for at least three months. More information on the ACT Spectacle Subsidy SchemeExternal Link

Respite care

Respite care provides carers with a planned, time-limited break from the demands of caring for someone else’s child. During respite, the child is cared for by another approved carer. Respite care can be regular or a one-off event. See ‘Taking a break: respite care’ earlier in this handbook.

ACT Government school fees

ACT Government schools and preschools do not charge school fees, but may ask for a financial contribution. It is CYPS policy not to pay voluntary contributions at government schools. No child will be refused benefits or services if a contribution is not made. If issues arise, carers should consult with their school’s Director/Principal and if the issue continues contact the Education Directorate.

Public dental services

ACT Health provides dental services to all people with a Health Care Card. This includes emergency dental services. More information is available on the ACT Health websiteExternal Link

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Pocket money

The child in your care should receive pocket money for helping out with jobs. This is a normal activity for most children as they grow up and should be no different for a child who cannot live with their birth parents. Giving pocket money helps teach the child about the importance of saving and working towards something that matters to them. It is also a good way to include them in helping around the house and making them feel a part of your family. Pocket money should increase as the child gets older and becomes more capable of helping you in various ways. Pocket money is to be paid from your Carer Subsidy.

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