CCS Government Update: Offering Enrolment Incentives

Issued to Services from the Department of Education and Training in October 2018:

Offering enrolment incentives

It has come to the department’s attention that a small number of child care services offer incentives to families to enrol their children.
 
The department acknowledges that a range of marketing tools and strategies feature across the early childhood education and care sector and are used appropriately, however, providers must ensure that their commercial practices are not incompatible with Family Assistance Law and all other legal requirements.
 
Child Care Subsidy (CCS) is an entitlement for families and is paid only to reduce their out‑of-pocket child care fees. While families’ CCS is paid directly to their child care provider, the provider is required by law to pass on the full subsidy amount to the family as a fee reduction.
 
Notably, to be eligible for CCS, parents must have a Complying Written Arrangement (CWA) with their child care provider, clearly outlining the child care fees they will be liable to pay on an ongoing basis.
 

If the parent will be charged different fees for an initial period or particular sessions due to an enrolment incentive, providers are encouraged to make this clear in the parent’s CWA. Furthermore, and most importantly, providers are required by legislation to report accurate details about each session of care, including the actual fee charged.

This means that if a parent is not charged any fee (or is charged a lower than usual fee), as part of an incentive offer, the provider must accurately reflect this in the relevant session report/s.
 
Providers must also ensure their arrangements with parents, including any incentives offered, comply with relevant consumer protection laws, for example, with respect to unfair contract terms and misleading conduct.
 
The department is closely monitoring emerging market practices as part of its ongoing policy and compliance analysis and, where services are undertaking practices that are inconsistent with the intent of the law, will intervene accordingly.
 
If you become aware of unethical practices we encourage you to notify the department’s Tip Off Line on 1800 664 231 or tipoffline@education.gov.au.