Parents denied preschool benefits due to NSW department blunder

The NSW Department of Education is failing to provide the correct information to preschools and parents which would allow them to participate in a Federal government benefit scheme, meaning parents are potentially losing thousands of dollars in benefits. 

Both the Commonwealth’s Family Assistance Office (FAO) and Centrelink have confirmed that Birchgrove Public School Preschool is a Registered Care Provider and therefore meets the necessary criteria for the Commonwealth Child Care benefit.

Parents of preschool children at Birchgrove Public School were issued with a Department of Education fact sheet which states they are not eligible for either the Child Care Benefit nor the Child Care Tax Rebate: “the Commonwealth Child Care Benefit and the Child Care Tax Rebate are only available to services that operate for extended hours (such as long day care) and the Department’s preschool classes operate during school hours and do not provide extended hours.”[1]

Birchgrove Public School Preschool is unable to issue detailed receipts as required by the FAO in order to provide the benefit.

A parent from Birchgrove Public School Preschool complained to the Inner West Area’s School Education Director (SED) Rod Megahey, outlining the issue and requesting his assistance with resolving the matter. Mr Megahey told the parent he would have people look into the matter. The FAO has also advised the parent that someone from the FAO will contact Mr Megahey.

 “It seems the department has failed to provide the necessary information to public preschools in order to allow parents to access these important rebates. This may have led to hundreds of parents missing out on critical childcare payments," Greens MP Jamie Parker said.

“Parents have been advised by the NSW Department of Education they’re not eligible for these rebates, yet the FAO states that they are entitled.

“This is a disgraceful communication failure between the NSW Department of Education and the Commonwealth government that is costing parents money.

“Up to a hundred public preschools across the state could be impacted by this error – that means thousands of parents cannot access the vital financial support to which they are entitled.

“I’m greatly concerned about the many parents who may have been told they’re not eligible and have therefore been missing out on hundreds or thousands of dollars in benefits.

“Parents have enough pressures on their household budgets without having to waste time negotiating complicated and conflicting bureaucracies.

"It's no surprise these mistakes are being made considering the Liberal government's $1.7 billion in cuts to the education budget,” Mr Parker said.

More information: Alison Martin 9660 7586 or 0432 941 533


February 18, 2013 at 12pm

[1] "Preschool fees – frequently asked questions," NSW Department of Education fact sheet, page 3.  

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