Relative and kinship care support and resources
How to get support, information about financial allowances and assistance, and a list of helpful and printable resources
Kinship care: financial support
There are 3 ways that relative and kinship carers can get financial assistance:
- from Communities and Justice (DCJ) or your foster agency
- from the Australian government
- from the birth parents
1. Financial assistance from DCJ or your agency
Foster, relative and kinship carers are volunteers, so they’re not paid a wage. The care allowance is provided by the NSW Government to help address the costs of caring for a child. Centrelink, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and financial institutions don’t count this allowance as income.
Supported care allowance
A fortnightly payment paid to eligible relative and kinship carers for children in their care. The DCJ Carer allowance 2018-19 factsheet indicates the allowance rates per fortnight.
The supported care allowance may only be paid if an assessment by Community Services determines a child or young person to be ‘in need of care and protection’. These children or young people are unable to safely remain with their parents. The carer must be authorised. See
The care allowance is provided by the NSW Government to help address the costs of caring for a child. Centrelink, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and financial institutions don’t count this allowance as income.
The statutory care allowance or supported care allowance should cover the child or young person’s day-to-day expenses, such as:
- clothing and footwear
- daily travel
- suitable car restraints
- household provisions and costs
- hobbies and activities
- general educational expenses
- general medical expenses
- pocket money
- general pharmaceutical costs
A number of other payments and reimbursements are also available for certain children and situations - see the carer allowance factsheet for more information.
Relative and kinship carers usually hold parental responsibility for the child in their care. If a relative or kinship carer moves interstate, the Care Allowance will continue for 3 months to cover the transition period. This is the case whether the placement has been arranged through DCJ or through a non-government agency. Any payment after this time is at the discretion of DCJ or the relevant agency.
Extra financial help
Sometimes the child or young person in your care may need services or items that cost more than the Care Allowance covers. You may be able to get help with these expenses through ‘contingency payments’ and ‘exception supports’. This extra financial help can cover the cost of things such as:
- family contact
- ongoing dental services
- optical services
- professional therapy
- additional travel
- establishment costs
- maintaining culture and identity.
Before spending any money that you would like to have reimbursed, talk to your caseworker and get approval. The caseworker should include the expense in the child or young person’s approved case plan. Keep all the receipts for the approved expense so you can be properly reimbursed.
Birthday and Christmas presents
The cost of buying birthday and Christmas presents for the child or young person is included in the Care Allowance. The amount you spend, type of gifts you buy and number of presents you give should be based on what is normally done in your family for children who are close to you.
Establishment payments help cover the cost of buying essential items for a child or young person when they first come to live with you, such as school uniforms, bedroom furniture, bed linen, baby capsules, car booster seats, clothing and footwear, nappies and formula and personal items.
Establishment payments are not automatic, so talk to your caseworker before you make a purchase. If the purchase is approved, your caseworker will arrange for payment to go directly to the service provider. You will only be reimbursed based on a receipt in exceptional circumstances, such as when it’s not possible to pay a service provider directly.
Any item bought with an establishment payment belongs to the child or young person and should go with them, where practical, if they leave your care.
Teenage education payment
Helping teenagers succeed in education and training can be a challenge for all families. For young people in out-of-home care, these years can be especially tough. To help foster, relative and kinship carers, and guardians keep their children engaged in school or training, DCJ has introduced a new payment to help with the costs of education.
The Teenage Education Payment (TEP) recognises the crucial role carers play in encouraging and supporting the young people in their care, and the importance of education and training in securing a positive future. The TEP is an annual amount of $6,000 paid in instalments of $1,500 at the start of each term to eligible carers to help keep 16 and 17 year-olds in education or training.
The Teenage Education Payment Guidelines contains further information about the purpose of TEP, eligibility criteria and how to apply. You can download the Teenage Education Payment (TEP) application form.
The Teenage Education Payment - questions and answers factsheet also answers some of the more common questions you may have.
2. Financial assistance from the Australian government
Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for support from the Department of Human Services, which delivers a range of Australian Government benefits and concessions to the general community.
The main ones that may be available to you as a carer of a child in out-of-home care are summarised in this section. For information about the full range of Australian Government help available, including payment rates and eligibility criteria, check the Human Services website’s Carers section and Indigenous Australians section.
Here is a list of what a relative or kinship carer and the child in care could be eligible for:
ABSTUDY assistance is for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander kids who are secondary school students aged 15 or under on 1 January in the year of study, or who are primary school students aged 14 or older on 1 January in the year of study. ABSTUDY helps cover the cost of study and living expenses, as well as travel to and from the place of study each term or semester if the place of study is far from home.
The Assistance for Isolated Children (AIC) scheme
AIC payments help families of students who cannot go to a state school because of geographical isolation, disability or special health or educational needs. They may be undertaking distance education from home, having approved home schooling, or living away from home to attend school. Speak to your caseworker for more information if you think an AIC payment could be of benefit to your child.
The Carer Allowance is the existing income supplement for people who provide additional daily care and attention to a child with a disability or medical condition. This is different from the statutory or supported Care Allowance that you receive as a foster carer to cover the costs of caring for a child or young person. It's not means tested and can be paid in addition to wages or other income support payments such as a Carer Payment or Age Pension. The Carer Allowance is provided as either:
- a fortnightly payment plus Health Care Card for the child, or
- a Health Care Card only.
Which of these you receive depends on the care needs of the child or young person.
The disability or condition must be recognised in the Disability Care Load Assessment (Child) Determination 2010 (DCLA Determination). It can apply if you are:
- providing additional daily care for a child under 16, with a disability or medical condition
- providing additional daily care for 2 dependent children with disabilities or medical conditions, who do not individually qualify for Carer Allowance, but together create a substantial caring responsibility.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) may change the arrangements for payments made to those who care for children and young people with disabilities. Speak to your caseworker for more information.
The Carer Payment provides income support to people who are unable to support themselves through paid employment because they are providing constant care to someone with a severe disability or medical condition. The Carer Payment is means tested.
This is different from the statutory or supported Care Allowance that you receive as a foster carer to cover the costs of caring for a child or young person.
The disability or condition must be recognised in the Disability Care Load Assessment (Child) Determination 2010 (DCLA Determination). It can apply if you are:
- providing constant care for a child under 16, with a severe disability or medical condition.
- providing constant care for 2 to 4 children under 16 with disabilities or medical conditions, whose combined care needs are equal to that of a single child under 15 with a severe disability or medical condition.
Child Care Subsidy
The Child Care Subsidy assists families with the cost of approved or registered childcare. The Child Care Subsidy that commenced on 2 July 2018:
- replaced the Child Care Benefit (CCB) and Child Care Rebate (CCR) with a single, means-tested subsidy
- is generally paid directly to the child care providers to be passed on to families
- is simpler than the previous multi-payment system
- is better targeted and provides more assistance to low and middle income families.
Approved childcare can include long day care, family day care, outside-school-hours care, vacation care, in-home care and some occasional care services. To find an approved childcare centre near you go to the myChild website or call the Child Care Access Hotline on 1800 670 305 (or 1800 810 586 for TTY service for the hearing or speech impaired).
Registered childcare can include care provided by grandparents, relatives, friends or nannies who are registered as carers with Centrelink. In some cases, it can also include care provided by individuals in private preschools, kindergartens and outside-school-hours services, including before and after-school care, vacation care and holiday programs. Payments for registered care are made as a lump sum payment only. You need to provide all original receipts for the period you are claiming, and you must submit your claim within a year of the care being provided.
To be eligible, the child in your care must be immunised, on an immunisation catch-up schedule, or exempt from immunisation for medical reasons. If you are eligible for the Child Care Subsidy, it will be paid directly to your childcare service. If childcare is not part of your child’s approved Case Plan, then you will have to cover the remainder of the fee, or the ‘gap’, yourself. However, if it is part of the approved Case Plan, DCJor your agency may cover the ‘gap’.
Additional Child Care Subsidy (ACCS)
The Additional Child Care Subsidy (ACCS) is a payment on top of the Child Care Subsidy that provides targeted fee assistance to families and children facing barriers to accessing affordable child care.
ACCS (child wellbeing)
The vast majority of carers with children under care arrangements in NSW will be eligible to receive an additional payment through the ACCS (child wellbeing). In most cases the full cost of child care will be covered.Whether or not there will be a gap depends on how much the provider charges.
Eligible families will receive a subsidy equal to the actual fee charged, up to 120% of the Child Care Subsidy hourly rate cap, for up to 100 hours per fortnight. The family will not have to meet activity test requirements.
Your child care providers will apply for the ACCS (child wellbeing) on your behalf. In order to do this, they should be made aware of your child's care arrangements. You will need to liaise with your caseworker to ensure your provider receives the necessary document to assist with the application or provide it yourself directly. This may include a letter from your agency, your child's case plan or a court order.
Carers receiving the ACCS (child wellbeing) for a child in their care will have it paid directly to the approved childcare service. If childcare is not part of your child’s approved Case Plan, then you will have to cover the remainder of the fee, or the ‘gap’, yourself. However, if it is part of the approved Case Plan, DCJ or your agency may cover the ‘gap’.
The ACCS (grandparent) will provide up to 100 hours of subsidised care per fortnight for grandparents who:
- receive income support
- are the principal carer with 65% or greater carer responsibilities
- have substantial autonomy for the day-to-day decisions about the child's care, welfare and development
Eligible families will receive a subsidy equal to the actual fee charged, up to 120% of the Child Care Subsidy hourly rate cap, for up to 100 hours per fortnight. These grandparents will not have to meet activity test requirements.
ACCS (temporary financial hardship)
The ACCS (temporary financial hardship) will provide short-term increased child care fee assistance to families who are experiencing significant financial stress due to exceptional circumstances, to ensure continuity of care.
Eligible families will receive a subsidy equal to the actual fee charged, up to 120% of the Child Care Subsidy hourly rate cap, for up to 100 hours per fortnight. The family will not have to meet activity test requirements. This support will be provided for a maximum of 13 weeks per event.
ACCS (transition to work)
The ACCS (transition to work) will provide support to families who are transitioning to work from income support by engaging in work, study or training activities.
To be eligible for Transition to Work, families need to:
- receive one of the following payments:
- Parenting Payment
- Newstart Allowance
- Disability Support Pension
- Youth Allowance
- a payment prescribed by the Minister's rules.
- have a Job Plan in effect (employment pathway plan within the meaning of the Social Security Act 1991(Cth), or a participation plan under section 94B of the Social Security Act 1991 (Cth).
Transition to Work provides a subsidy of 95% of the actual fee charged up to 95% of the Child Care Subsidy hourly rate cap. Hours of assistance will be determined by the Child Care Subsidy activity test. Individuals may continue to receive the subsidy for 12 weeks after they gain employment and their income support payments cease.
Keeping on top of payments and entitlements can be hard for some grandparents. In NSW, Grandparent Advisers support grandparents who are caring for their grandchildren. They offer tailored information about payments and support services, arrange appointments with specialist staff such as social workers, and help provide access to government services including Centrelink and Medicare. They can also arrange referrals to other federal, state and community service providers who can help. Call the Grandparent Adviser Line on 1800 245 965 (or 1800 810 586 for TTY service for the hearing or speech impaired).
Family Tax Benefit
The Family Tax Benefit is an income-tested payment that helps with the cost of raising children. It is made up of 2 parts: Family Tax Benefit Part A and Part B.
- Family Tax Benefit Part A is paid per child. The amount you get depends on your family’s circumstances.
- Family Tax Benefit Part B is paid per family. This payment gives extra help to families and single parents with one main income.
Newborn Upfront Payment
If a child under the age of one comes into your care and you are eligible for a Family Tax Benefit Part A payment, then you may also be eligible for a Newborn Upfront Payment and Newborn Supplement.
- If you receive Family Tax Benefit Part A as a lump sum, both the Newborn Upfront Payment and the Newborn Supplement will be included in that lump sum.
- If you receive Family Tax Benefit Part A fortnightly, you will receive the Newborn Upfront Payment as a lump sum and the Newborn Supplement in your regular Family Tax Benefit Part A payments for 13 weeks from the date you become eligible.
Paid Parental Leave
The Paid Parental Leave scheme can support you if you’re a primary carer taking time off work to care for a newborn or recently adopted child. If eligible, you could get up to 18 weeks Parental Leave Pay at the rate of the National Minimum Wage. Parental Leave Pay is taxable and may be paid by the government or by your employer, depending on your circumstances.
The Parenting Payment is income support for parents and carers to help cover the costs of raising small children. It's paid to the primary carer. The amount of Parenting Payment you get depends on your family situation. You may qualify for the parenting payment if:
- you are single and care for at least one child aged under 8 years
- you have a partner and care for at least one child aged under 6 years
- income and assets for you and your partner (if you have one) are below a certain amount
- you meet residence requirements.
Mutual Obligations Requirements Exemption
You may be exempt from your Mutual Obligation Requirements for up to 12 months at a time if you are caring for a child as a family or community member, but not a parent, under a:
- Family Law Parenting Order, or
- formal state or territory Protection Case Plan or Care Plan
You may be exempt for up to 16 weeks at a time if you are looking after a child under an informal arrangement that has the support of state or territory authorities. You will need to provide us with proof of your care arrangements. Examples include the original or certified copies of the Order or Plan, and evidence of your relationship to the child.
Health Care Card
A Health Care Card provides help with the cost of prescription medicine under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), Australian government funded medical services, and access to state, territory and local government concessions. Having a Health Care Card will give you concessions on healthcare costs. This means you can get cheaper prescription medicines through the PBS and medical services funded by the Australian Government. This card can also give you access to concessions provided by state and local governments as well as some private businesses, including household, education, and public transport costs. If you are receiving certain Centrelink payments or supplements or the maximum rate of Family Tax Benefit (Part A), you will automatically receive a Health Care Card. Partners and children may also be covered by the card. Not all card types get the same concessions, and the concessions available to cardholders may be different between states and territories.
Foster Child Health Care Card
A Foster Child Health Care Card can be claimed by a person caring for a foster child, to give them access to concessions through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and medical services funded by the Australian Government. The foster care arrangement can either be an informal agreement (e.g. where family members have come to a private arrangement about who cares for the child such as a grandparent, a sibling who is an adult, or another relative), or formal care (e.g. where the care of the child is being managed by a state welfare authority). The Foster Child Health Care Card is issued in the child’s name and sent out every six months depending on the foster care arrangement. Foster carers are required to tell us of any change in circumstances that may affect the foster child’s eligibility. This card is not means tested. The Foster Child Health Care Card can be claimed when you claim Family Tax Benefit for your foster child, or online if you are registered for Centrelink Online Services. Go to humanservices.gov.au/onlineservices for more details on how to register for this service.
3. Child support payments from birth parents
All authorised relative carers of children and young people in long term out-of-home care should apply to the Child Support Agency (CSA) for a child support assessment. This means that birth parents of children and young people in the care of a relative will have an opportunity to contribute financially towards their child’s care by making payments through the CSA.
What is child support?
The CSA is responsible for managing Australia’s Child Support Scheme and supporting parents to make payments for the benefit of their children. The Child Support Scheme is not a new scheme. Just as separated parents can apply for child support, relative carers of children are eligible to apply to the CSA for a child support assessment.
What are the benefits of the initiative?
This scheme may result in a number of benefits for families such as:
- increases the money available to support a child in out-of-home care
- strengthening parents’ ongoing role in the life of their child
- improving a child’s sense of identity and wellbeing to know that their birth parents are contributing towards their upbringing
- recognising that birth parents who no longer have the care of their children due to child protection concerns continue to have a duty to maintain their child in the same way as any other parent.
When will you need to apply?
From 1 January 2012, all authorised relative carers of children and young people in long term out-of-home care are strongly encouraged to contact the CSA for a child support assessment. Please contact your caseworker or local Community Services Centre when you have successfully applied for a child support assessment so that we may acknowledge the contribution of the birth parents.
What does long term out-of-home care mean?
Long term out-of-home care is when a final order has been granted through the Children’s Court which places a child or young person in care until they attain the age of 18 years. In cases where there are no Family Court Orders or Children’s Court Orders, a child or young person is considered to be in long term out-of-home care when they have been in the care of a relative for more than 12 months and there are no plans to restore the child or young person to the care of their parents.
What do I need to do?
When you contact the CSA for a child support assessment, you will be asked a number of questions about the care arrangements, number of children and responsibility for children from other relationships. Where possible, you will need to provide information about the birth parents such as their names, dates of birth and contact details. The CSA then works out how much each parent needs to pay and all parties are sent a child support assessment notice. A new child support assessment notice is sent if there are any changes in the parents’ circumstances or the care arrangements.
Relative carers can complete a child support assessment over the phone by calling the CSA on 131 272 between the hours of 8.30 am and 4.45 pm, Monday to Friday. Make sure you set aside at least 90 minutes to complete the assessment. You can also complete a child support assessment by completing an Application for Child Support Assessment – Non-Parent Carer form. This form is available at: www.csa.gov.au/forms/.
How much will the birth parents need to pay?
The amount of child support the birth parents will need to pay varies and depends on the birth parents’ income, number of children, age of the children and the care arrangements of the children. Following are some examples of approximate amounts that birth parents may need to pay based on income, number of children and age of children. Your individual circumstances are unique so it is important that you contact the CSA to obtain an accurate assessment.
Example 1: Sonja, aged 4 and Sarah, aged 2 are living with their paternal grandmother. Both birth parents receive a Newstart allowance from Centrelink. A child support assessment determines that the paternal grandmother would receive a total of $737.36 per year in child support payments.
|Child support payments per fortnight - Parent 1||$14.18|
|Child support payments per fortnight - Parent 2||$14.18|
|Total child support payments||$28.63 per fortnight ($737.36 per year)|
Example 2: Chloe, aged 10 lives with her maternal aunt. Chloe’s birth mother receives a Newstart allowance from Centrelink and her birth father has successfully applied to have child support payments reduced to nil as he is currently in prison. A child support assessment determines that the maternal aunt would receive a total of $368.68 per year in child support payments.
|Child support payments per fortnight - Parent 1||$14.18|
|Child support payments per fortnight - Parent 2||$0|
|Total child support payments||$14.18 per fortnight ($368.68 per year)|
Example 3: Todd, aged 13, Crystal, aged 11 and Rose, aged 9 live with their paternal grandparents. The children’s birth mother receives a Newstart allowance from Centrelink and their birth father is currently working and earns $45,000 per year. A child support assessment determines that the paternal grandparents would receive a total of $7,568.68 per year in child support payments.
|Child support payments per fortnight - Parent 1||$14.18|
|Child support payments per fortnight - Parent 2||$276|
|Total child support payments||$290.18 per fortnight ($7568.68 per year)|
Example 4: Jack earns $60,000pa and Marie earns $35,000pa and they have two children aged 8 and 10 who both live with their maternal grandmother full-time. Jack and Marie have no other children. A child support assessment determines that the grandmother would receive a total of $12,792 per year in child support payments.
|Child support payments per fortnight - Parent 1||$360|
|Child support payments per fortnight - Parent 2||$132|
|Total child support payments||$492 per fortnight ($12,792 per year)|
How will I receive the child support payments?
The easiest way to receive payments is to request the CSA to collect payments from the parents on your behalf and deposit the payments into a nominated bank account.
What do I use the payments for?
The payments you receive should be used to cover day-to-day expenses associated with caring for a child or young person.
Can I apply for child support if I receive a Supported Care Allowance and there is no Family Court Order or Children’s Court Order?
If you are caring for a child without a Family Court Order or Children’s Court Order, you can still apply to the CSA for a child support assessment. However, you will need to provide details about the care arrangements to the CSA. Community Services provides documentation to supported relative carers about continuation of a Supported Care Allowance. This information could be provided to the Child Support Agency as evidence of the placement.
Can I still apply if the child’s parents are deceased or in prison?
If a parent is in prison, they can apply to have the child support assessment reduced to nil. However, being in prison does not automatically mean that the child support assessment is reduced to nil. All applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis. If a parent is deceased, you can apply for child support from the other parent. The CSA will take these circumstances into account when calculating how much the parent is required to pay. If both parents are deceased, you are not eligible to apply for child support.
Can I still apply if the whereabouts of the parents is unknown?
You are still required to apply for a child support assessment against both parents even if you do not know the whereabouts of the child’s parents. If one of the parent’s identity is unknown, you are only required to apply for a child support assessment against one parent.
Who can I contact if I need more information?
If you are an authorised relative carer and you have questions about applying for child support payments, you can contact your local Community Services Centre or the Child Support Agency on 131 272.
The child support payments that you receive may affect the amount of Family Tax Benefit or family assistance you are eligible for. If you have questions about the impact of child support payments on payments you receive from Centrelink, contact the Family Assistance Office on 136 150.