The Childcare Subsidy - your questions answered

In this post we will answer your questions about how the government Childcare Subsidy works and whether you may be eligible for it.

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Logan Whitelaw March 03, 2022

6 min read

The Childcare Subsidy - your questions answered

In this post we will answer your questions about how the government Childcare Subsidy works and whether you may be eligible for it.

So what is the Childcare Subsidy?

Childcare Subsidy is a payment that is designed to help whānau with the cost of childcare for children before they start school. It exists to help families afford childcare services so that they can work and/or provide for their health and wellbeing.

It's important to note that the Childcare Subsidy is not the same as 20 Hours ECE. For details of 20 Hours ECE, check out our article here

Families getting 20 hours Early Childhood Education (ECE) can't get the Childcare Subsidy for the same hours.

Who is it for?

You may be eligible for the Childcare Subsidy if you meet the following criteria:

  • You're the main caregiver of your child

  • You're a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident

  • Your whānau is on a low or middle income (see our table below for income thresholds), and

  • You normally live in New Zealand.

The amount of subsidy you can access depends on how much you and your partner earn and how many preschool children you have.

To be eligible, your child needs to be:

Aged either:

  • under 5, or

  • over 5 if they're going to a cohort entry school (where new entrants start together on a set date after they turn 5), or

  • under 6 if you get a Child Disability Allowance for them

  • attending an approved early childhood programme for 3 or more hours a week.

When it says "approved programmes", it means education and care services, kindergartens, playcentre, Kōhanga Reo, licensed and Homebased providers. In short, any of the childcare services you see on Kindello will fall within the approved programmes category.

The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) has created a handy guide to help you see if you are eligible for the Childcare Subsidy and it only takes about 5 minutes to complete. You can find this guide here.

How many hours of childcare are covered by the subsidy?

The number of hours you may receive the subsidy for depends on your current work, study or training status. This is because the subsidy is designed to provide increased assistance for those families that need childcare to support their ability to work or further upskill.

The Childcare Subsidy is normally paid for up to 9 hours of childcare a week if you're not working, studying or training.

However, if you're working, studying or training you may be able to get up to 50 hours a week.

Further criteria that may mean you are eligible include being:

  • Involved in an activity that Work and Income has asked you to do

  • A shift worker who works nights

  • Seriously ill or disabled

  • Caring for a child in hospital or for a child you get the Disability Allowance for.

In most cases you can't get the Childcare Subsidy for more than 9 hours a week if the child's other parent or caregiver can care for them.

How much subsidy can I get?

If you are eligible for the subsidy, the amount you can get is determined by three factors:

  • The number of preschool children you have

  • Your combined income

  • How many hours a week your child attends childcare

To help paint a picture of the actual subsidy levels, MSD has provided this useful table:

Number of childrenGross weekly total household income before taxChildcare Subsidy (per hour, per child)Childcare Subsidy (per week, per child for 50 hours)
OneLess than $800.00$5.37$268.50
One$800.00 to $1,199.99$4.28$214.00
One$1,200.00 to $1,299.99$2.99$149.50
One$1,300.00 to $1,399.99$1.67$83.50
One$1,400.00 or moreNilNil
TwoLess than $920.00$5.37$288.50
Two$920.00 to $1,279.00$4.28$214.00
Two$1,380.00 to $1,489.99$2.99$149.50
Two$1,490.00 to $1,599.99$1.67$83.50
Two$1,600.00 or moreNilNil
Three or moreLess than $1,030.00$5.37$288.50
Three or more$1,030.00 to $1,539.00$4.28$214.00
Three or more$1,540.00 to $1,669.99$2.99$149.50
Three or more$1,670.00 to $1,799.99$1.67$83.50
Three or more$1,800.00 or moreNilNil

How and when do I apply for the Childcare Subsidy?

Ideally, you'll want to start the application process a few weeks before your child is due to start childcare. That means if you're currently searching your childcare option on Kindello, it's the perfect time to get your Childcare Subsidy application completed - if you think you may be eligible.

To make it easy to apply, you can find a copy of the application form here

The childcare service that you choose will also need to complete part of the application form, so we suggest getting your part done and ready for your childcare provider when you enroll.

MSD says that they “can grant you the financial assistance you're entitled to from the date you first contact us, or the date your childcare started, whichever is later, if you complete your application within 20 working days of that date.”

Summary

You may be eligible for the Childcare Subsidy for greater than 9 hours per week if you:

  • Have a child under 5 years of age

  • Are in the lower or middle income bands and

  • Are working, studying or in training

The amount of subsidy depends on:

  • The number of preschool children you have

  • Your combined income

  • How many hours a week your child attends childcare

To check whether you are eligible, you should visit

It's best to apply for the subsidy before you start at a childcare service and the forms you need can be found here

Thanks to The Ministry of Social Development for this Childcare Subsidy information. If you require further information, please visit

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