Christmas closures affect CCS help desk and payments: reminder to all services
The Federal Department of Education and Training (DET) has released advice for all services, in the form of a fact sheet, relating to the closure of the child care subsidy (CCS) help desk over the Christmas and New Year 2018-19 holiday period.
The Christmas and New Year public holiday dates in all Australian states and territories for 2018-19 are:
- Tuesday 25 December 2018
- Wednesday 26 December 2018
- Tuesday 1 January 2019
The DET advised that the CCS help desk will close from 12.30 pm (AEDT) on Monday 24 December 2018 and will reopen at 9.00 am (AEDT) on Wednesday 2 January 2019, and that services requiring assistance during that time should refer to the information available on the New Child Care Package for providers website.
Submissions and payments
In relation to session submission and payment processing dates, DET said that data submitted to the Child Care Subsidy System (CCSS) would be processed throughout the Christmas and New Year period, however session reports submitted on national public holidays (as shown above) may experience short delays in processing payments.
The DET advised that data will be available to view through software within services, and that under no circumstances can attendances be reported for children on days that a service is closed, cautioning that attendances can only be reported for sessions of care that are actually attended by the child.
Reporting altered service hours
In the event that services are altering their hours of operation during the Christmas and New Year period, or implementing a temporary closure, services are reminded by the DET of their obligation under the Family Assistance Law to notify the DET of any of the following changes, within the timeframe specified (14 days). Penalties may apply if providers fail to make required notifications about changes to:
- operating hours
- the hours and days on which each approved childcare service of the provider operates, with opening and closing times notified in 24-hour format .
In relation to the reporting of absences over the period, the DET advised that whilst individual services may make a business decision to charge families over a Christmas closedown period, families are not entitled to CCS for the days when the service is closed.
The only exception is that a service can report absences for Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day public holidays if:
- the family has been charged a fee for those days; and,
- the public holiday falls on a day that the child would normally be in care.
A table is available in the fact sheet, outlining various scenarios for absence provision on public holidays.
If care is being provided throughout the Christmas and New Year period, and a service closes only for public holidays, attendances and absences should be reported as usual, the DET said, providing further guidance in an additional table in the fact sheet.
Services intending to close early on Christmas Eve (24 December 2018) are advised that session reports can only be submitted when a service is open and providing care (unless it it a public holiday). The DET reminded services that shorter sessions of care need to be reported, and that session reports can only be submitted for the hours a service is open and providing care.
Guidance was offered by the DET around additional absences, reminding services that a public holiday is not an additional absence reason, and that a child or children are only eligible for additional absences on public holidays if all of the following conditions apply:
- The 42 initial absence days have been used;
- It is a day the child normally attends care;
- A fee has been charged;
- One of the additional absence reasons applies (e.g. sickness); and,
- There is written evidence to support the additional absence reason (e.g. a medical certificate).
Initial or additional absences cannot be reported for days when the service is closed that are not public holidays (e.g. 24-28 December).