When the Federal Government introduced its new Child Care Subsidy System (CCSS) on 2 July 2018, the requirement for the electronic data provision of sign-in/sign-out information of all children to the Federal Department of Education was deferred for 6 months (to 14 January 2019).
To clarify a common misunderstanding, this legal obligation on all approved providers impacts CCSS software providers to provide sign-in/sign-out (ie attendance) information electronically to the Federal Department of Education. This same legal obligation therefore does NOT require all approved providers to have an electronic sign-in/sign-out system.
This legal requirement for all service providers to include actual attendance times in parents’ Statements of Entitlement is set out in Rule 10(i) of the Child Care Subsidy Secretary’s Rules 2017:
daily and weekly totals of the number of hours of care provided during the statement period,
including start and end times for each session of care and
the start and end times of the child’s physical attendance
In relation to reporting actual attendance times in session reports, the above is supported by the legislative obligation via Section 204B(2) of the A New Tax System (Family Assistance) (Administration) Act 1999 (vol 2) which sets out the requirement to report about children for whom care is provided for each week in which a session of care is provided:
204B Requirement to report about children for whom care is provided
(1) An approved provider of an approved child care service must give the Secretary a report in accordance with subsection (2) for each week in which a session of care is provided to a child, if:
(a) the provider has given the Secretary an enrolment notice; and
(b) care was provided to the child by the service on a day in the week.
Note: The provider must give enrolment notices to the Secretary relating to all children for whom care is provided, including both enrolled children (for whom complying written arrangements are made) and others for whom a relevant arrangement is made (see section 200A).
(2) A report is given in accordance with this subsection if:
(a) it is given in a form and manner approved by the Secretary; and
(b) if the child was enrolled for care on a day in the week—it includes the information required by the Secretary relevant to determining whether an individual is eligible for or entitled to be paid CCS or ACCS in relation to the session of care and, if so, the amount; and
(c) it includes any other information required by the Secretary; and
(d) it is given no later than:
(i) 14 days after the end of the week in which the session of care was provided; or
(ii) if the week is in a period, or a series of consecutive periods, to which a payment under section 205A relates—14 days after the end of the period, or the last such period; or
(iii) if the enrolment notice is given under subsection 200A(2)—the day the enrolment notice is required to be given under that subsection.
Hence, in combination, the above creates the legal obligation for all service providers to provide such sign-in/sign-out (ie attendance) information in a form and manner required by the Secretary of the Federal Department of Education (and any other information required by the Secretary) via their Federal Government registered third party Child Care software (see https://docs.education.gov.au/node/3300) from 14 January 2019 onwards.
In other words, if electronic data provision of sign-in/sign-out information of children is not provided to the Federal Department of Education from 14 January 2019 onwards, then the legal requirement to report under Section 204B is incomplete, thereby rendering the service provider to be in breach and the actual Child Care Subsidy amounts for the parents at risk of NOT being given to the service provider.
For larger services who have not automated the data collection of their children's attendances (ie sign-in/sign-out information), this new obligation from 14 January 2019 onwards may also cause a problem from a data entry perspective. Notwithstanding, there is no legal obligation for service providers to automate the sign-in/sign-out process.
The Australian Childcare Alliance (ACA) NSW, through its ACA national body, is continuing to ask the Federal Government to delay the introduction of the above requirement for at least another 6 months until there is an overt guarantee that all CCSS software providers are capable of transmitting such sign-in/sign-out information to the Federal Government by 14 January 2019 onwards.
In the meantime, ACA NSW will be asking:
- a guarantee from all CCSS software providers that they will be able to deliver the above information to the Federal Government “in a form and manner approved by the Secretary” beginning 14 January 2019;
- a guarantee from all CCSS software providers that they have effective solutions for their customers' data entering attendance information for all their children; and
- a guarantee from the Federal Government and Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan that service providers will not be prosecuted for the inabilities/failure of their CCSS software provider who appear to have passed the Federal Government’s tests in order to be registered as a listed CCSS software provider (see https://docs.education.gov.au/node/3300).
ACA NSW will publish the responses from all CCSS software providers and the Federal Government.
Should you require any further information/clarification, please do not hesitate to contact the ACA NSW office on 1300 556 330 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Federal Department of Education's Child Care Subsidy System Helpdesk can be contacted via 1300 667 276. And the Federal Minister for Education, the Hon Dan Tehan MP, can be contacted via (02) 6277 7350.