Introduction to ACCS

The ACCS is part of the Child Care Safety Net. The Safety Net aims to give the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children, as well as those from regional and remote communities, a strong start through access to quality early childhood education and care.

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The ACCS includes four elements:

  • ACCS Child Wellbeing - for families who require practical help to support their children’s safety and wellbeing 
  • ACCS Grandparent - for grandparents who are the primary carers of their grandchildren
  • ACCS Temporary Financial Hardship - for families experiencing temporary financial hardship
  • ACCS Transition to Work – for families transitioning from income support to work.

This section will focus on ACCS (Child Wellbeing). For information on the other 3 types, please refer to your Child Care Provider Handbook and direct your families to apply here

 

ACCS Application Process

1. Identify child ‘at risk’

A provider must be satisfied that the child whom they consider ‘at risk’, meets the legislative definition of ‘at risk’ for the purpose of ACCS , based on their assessment of the available evidence regarding neglect and abuse.

2. Family involvement

Providers are expected to have conversations with families/carers about their circumstances, their eligibility for ACCS  and the requirement for a provider to refer the family/carer to an appropriate support agency if an ACCS certificate or determination is made in respect of the child. Both the provider and the family/carer receive written advice of their eligibility for ACCS, so it is important to have a conversation with the family prior to giving a certificate or applying for a determination.

3. Giving a Certificate

If a provider considers the child is ‘at risk, and they decide to give a certificate, they can do this immediately, approving up to six weeks of ACCS in a 12‑month period for a child using their care.

This allows the ACCS to be paid without delay (subject to all the other ACCS eligibility criteria being met).

A certificate is only valid at the particular service of a particular provider. If a child attends more than one service managed by the provider, then the provider will need to give a certificate for each service. 

5. Apply for a Determination

When a provider has given a certificate in respect of a child and considers that the child will continue to be ‘at risk’ for longer than six weeks, the provider can apply for a determination.

Determinations for ACCS can be made for periods of up to 13 weeks at a time (unless eligible for extending the determination period up to 52 weeks). Where a child continues to be ‘at risk’, the service should apply for additional periods of ACCS . Generally, certificate(s) must be given for a total of six weeks before the provider can apply for a determination. 

Providers can apply for a determination while the certificate is in place (this can be any time within the six-week timeframe in which the certificate is in place). To avoid payment delay, providers are advised not to wait until the certificate or determination ends.

When a determination is made, it will apply to all providers and services that the child uses even if the provider has not applied for a determination.

ACCS Cap Rates

The ACCS is a separate payment to Child Care Subsidy (CCS). ACCS has more generous rate caps than CCS, and will cover all of a child’s child care fees in most cases.

Similarly to CCS, where a family is eligible for ACCS and the fee charged is less than or equal to the amount of ACCS hourly rate cap, there will be no gap for the parent/carer to pay. That is, the payment will cover all of the actual fee charged.

If the hourly rate is higher than this capped amount, the parent/carer will incur a gap fee.

 

Children below school age

Children below school age

School age children

School age children

Care Type

CCS hourly rate cap

ACCS hourly rate cap

CCS hourly rate cap

ACCS hourly rate cap

Centre Based Day Care

$12.31

$14.77

$10.77

$12.92

Outside School Hours

$12.31

$14.77

$10.77

$12.92

These are 2021–22 figures and will be indexed by the Consumer Price Index annually.

ACCS Certificates 

Considerations

A provider can give a certificate providing immediate access to ACCS if:

  • they consider the child is or was 'at risk' (in accordance with the ACCS definition) at the time care was provided
  • certificate(s) for the same child have not been given for the same service and the same provider for a total of six weeks in a 12-month period
  • the service is below its percentage limit if one has been applied.

This also applies when the provider is eligible to receive ACCS because an eligible individual cannot be identified. A provider may enrol a child under a provider eligible arrangement for up to 13 weeks if the child is in formal foster/ kinship care arrangements (under state and territory child protection legislation).

Services will be required to issue a certificate or certificates (totalling six weeks) every 12 months for a child where the above conditions are met, and the child remains ‘at risk’.

For each child, certificates given by the provider in relation to a particular service cannot be in effect for more than six weeks in any 12-month period.

Required Information

The certificate is given by the provider through Office following the steps outlined here and must include the following information:

  • the name of child the certificate is given for
  • the child care service the certificate is valid at
  • the period of certification
  • the type of neglect or abuse that results in the child being ‘at risk’ (this information is not required when the child is receiving care under relevant state/territory law)

Duration

A certificate can be given in whole weeks, and total certificates cannot exceed six weeks in any 12 month period, as considered appropriate by the provider. The day the certificate takes effect must be a Monday, even if a child commences care on a different day. A certificate can be backdated up to 28 days, or up to 13 weeks in exceptional circumstances. Each week for which the certificate has effect must include at least one day when the child is ‘at risk’.

ACCS Determinations 

Considerations

Once a provider has given a certificate, the provider can make an application to Services Australia for a determination in relation to additional periods. The application must be accompanied by evidence that supports the provider’s view that the child continues to be ‘at risk’.

Where the provider anticipates that a child will continue to be ‘at risk’, it is recommended that they apply for a determination at the earliest occasion to ensure continuity of payment.

If the child continues to be ‘at risk’ after the initial determination then, to avoid delays in payment, the provider needs to lodge another determination application to Services Australia before the previous one has ceased. Please note that evidence needs to be dated less than six months old from the commencement date of a determination.

Required Information

An application for a determination in made through Office following the steps outline here and must include the following information:

  • the first and last name of the child the determination is applied for
  • the dates the provider is asking the determination to be made for
  • the period the child is likely to be ‘at risk’
  • the type of neglect or abuse that results in the child being ‘at risk’ (this information not required when the child is receiving care under relevant state/territory law)
  • evidence to support the application or a statutory declaration for the application for the first determination

Duration

A service is able to lodge a determination application for up to 52 weeks in length in the event that the child is under a long term protection order.  All other determination applications are for periods between 1-13 weeks.