Child care rebate may cost dearly
By LEONIE BRANN
JOANNA STEWART is a mother who wants to go back to work, but says the Federal Government isn't making it easy.
That is because of a Federal Government child care rebate that she says she will not be able to claim until the middle of next year.
"We may be worse off when I go back to work," said Mrs Stewart, who lives with her self-employed husband, Bill, and her two-yearold son, Cameron, in Lennox Head.
"If I was to go back to work and put Cameron in care the financial benefit of working may be outweighed by having to pay for the full cost of day care until I get the rebate at the end of the next financial year.
"If it's not paid on an ongoing basis we may be worse off.
"Even with the extra rebates, if you have to wait for a year to get paid, that is not going to help you with the cost in the critical stage of raising a young child."
Michelle Clark, from Wardell, had to knock back a job offer this month because she could not afford to wait for the benefit to help pay for the care for her three-yearold, Callym Williams.
"I'm in a Catch-22 situation. I want to work, but as a sole parent I can't afford to lose any benefits," she said.
"If I went back to work my child care benefit would drop, so even before I get the rebate next year it will cost me more to work than stay at home."
The rebate period started in July, 2004, although parents won't see any money until they make a claim in their 2005-2006 tax return.
The rebate won't be means-tested and will be available to families who already receive the Federal Government's child care benefit.
The amount families received will be based on the taxable income of both parents, with the maximum yearly rebate of $4000 per child.
It will cover 30 per cent of out-of-pocket child care expenses after the child care benefit payment.
The child care rebate is to be debated by the Federal Government in the spring session of Parliament.