Financial support for kinship carers

Victorian care allowance and other financial support

There is a range of financial supports available for kinship carers, including the care allowance and client-support funding. In addition to this, the Victorian Government provides financial and other supports to assist you and the child or young person in your care (see Table below).

The Commonwealth Government also provides benefits that are available to the broader community. It is the role of the department, agency and care teams to support carers to identify and access the full range of financial supports available.

The care allowance structure and payment rates that you receive directly from the department are outlined in the Support for home-based carers in Victoria page on the department’s website at https://services.dhhs.vic.gov.au/support-home-based-carers-victoria.

Care allowance

The department provides assessed and approved kinship carers, foster carers, permanent carers and special needs local adoptive parents with a care allowance, to assist in providing care for children and young people who cannot live with their parents, following intervention by child protection. The care allowance contributes to the costs incurred while providing care and is paid fortnightly by the department.

The care allowance is from the date of endorsed placement of the child or young person, and is provided for each child or young person in care. An endorsed placement is when child protection determines that the placement is required for the safety of the child or young person, and the kinship carer has been assessed and approved.

The care allowance is not a ‘payment’ for being a carer and is not considered a source of income for the purposes of annual tax returns, testing eligibility for Commonwealth Government allowances or when applying for loans from financial institutions. Care allowance rates are not affected by Centrelink or Commonwealth child support agency payments, or Youth Allowance payments.

Kinship carers assessed and approved by child protection are automatically eligible for the level-one care allowance at the beginning of the placement. Where the child is assessed as having higher needs, carers may be eligible for a higher care allowance level. Please contact the child or young person’s child protection worker or agency case manager to discuss the needs of the child or young person in your care.

A fact sheet for carers on the care allowance is available on the department’s website at https://services.dhhs.vic.gov.au/support-home-based-carers-victoria.

For questions you may have about department care allowances, contact:

The Care Allowance Helpdesk

Department of Health and Human Services

Phone: 1300 552 319

Fax: 1300 788 062

Email: caregivers.mgt@dhhs.vic.gov.au

Client support funding

Client support funding is additional funding that you may be eligible for to help cover the costs for extraordinary expenses. These are for the purchase of specific items or services that exceed the day-to-day costs of what the care allowance contributes to, or to assist with high costs that place an unreasonable financial burden on carers. Where a child or young person has extraordinary needs or needs that are above the day-to-day cost of caring, kinship carers should speak with the child or young person’s child protection worker or agency case manager to discuss access to client support funding.

For more information on client support funding and support for home-based carers in Victoria, visit the department’s website at https://services.dhhs.vic.gov.au/support-home-based-carers-victoria

Table – Other financial supports linked to the care allowance

AllowancePurposeDescription
Client expensesTo help address the individual needs of children and young people subject to Victorian child protection intervention and in home-based care arrangementsKinship carers can request access to client expenses through the care team planning process or via the child or young person’s child protection worker or agency case manager.
New placement allowanceTo assist in meeting the immediate or ‘start-up’ costs of caring for a child or young person, subject to Victorian child protection interventionIf a carer is receiving a level-1 care allowance, an additional amount is paid to carers over the first six months of the placement or care arrangement
Included in fortnightly care allowance
Education and medical paymentTo assist in meeting the education and health needs of children and young people in out-of-home careIncluded in fortnightly care allowance
School attendance allowanceTo contribute to meeting the educational costs for a child or young person subject to Victorian child protection interventionTwo age bands for the allowance are 5–11 years and 12–18 years
Quarterly payment is separate to the care allowance and automatically paid to the carer’s nominated bank account
Paid in arrears to primary or full-time carers, based on the number of days a child or young person has been in the care arrangement
18 – 21 years and school attendingTo provide ongoing support and placement stability to young people completing their secondary education qualificationCarers must maintain a private accommodation arrangement within their home for a young person for whom they were in receipt of a care allowance on the date of the young person’s 18th birthday
Where a young person has turned 18 years of age and is continuing to attend school at a senior level (eligibility provisions apply), the care allowance can be extended up to 21 years of age when they are school-attending
This extension can occur for the calendar year in which the young person turns 18, and for the calendar year beyond which they turn 18 and up to 21 years of age, if they are still attending school at a senior level (full time or part time)
The department’s Care Allowance Helpdesk will send a letter out to kinship carers in advance of the young person’s 18th birthday, advising that the carer may be eligible for an extension of the care allowance

Flexible funding for permanent carers

For kinship carers who have converted to a permanent care arrangement, flexible funding can be provided to you, to help meet the additional needs of a child or young person in your care, beyond those met by the care allowance and other available funding sources, at the time a permanent care order is made. The funding is specific to the child or young person.

The funds are to promote continuity of quality care and help address issues that may be a result of abuse or neglect. Funding for new permanent carers is managed by child protection through the permanent care assessment and is to be approved as part of the case plan.

Funding for existing permanent carers is managed by OzChild, in partnership with Permanent Care and Adoptive Families. For more information, contact Permanent Care and Adoptive Families on (03) 9020 1833 or email info@pcafamilies.org.au.

Victorian Government Carer Card

The Victorian Government Carer Card gives you free and discounted services, including free public transport on Sundays, two return off-peak rail vouchers for travel anywhere within Victoria, and discounted entry to government venues, such as zoos, museums and various tourist attractions. See the useful resources section for contact details and where to go for more information.

Commonwealth Government assistance

The Commonwealth Government provides payments and services to carers who are not the parent, and who provide full-time care for a child or young person.

Centrelink provides payments and services that may assist you to provide care to a child or young person, as well as payments to eligible young people and children, such as the:

  • Child Care Benefit – helps with the costs of approved or registered childcare
  • Child Care Rebate – an additional payment to help with child care costs if you are eligible for the Child Care Benefit
  • Jobs, Education and Training Child Care Fee Assistance – can help with childcare if you need to search for a job, work, study or other approved activities
  • Family Tax Benefit – helps with the costs of raising a child or young person
  • Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme – can help carers get children and young people to school when they live in an isolated area, or if the child or young person cannot go to an appropriate state school daily, because they have a disability or special needs.

Please note that some of these payments require an income assessment for eligibility.

Centrelink’s Grandparent Advisers

A Grandparent Adviser may be able to assist you if you are a grandparent or relative carer and have questions about eligibility and the assistance available. The adviser can provide information specific to your circumstances, assess your eligibility, and refer you to other services if required.

If you would like to speak to a Grandparent Adviser, you should specifically ask to do so when contacting Centrelink, but note that not all Centrelink office locations have an onsite adviser. You can call any time and leave a message noting the best time to return your call. If you are an existing Centrelink customer, have your Customer Reference Number handy. Expect to be asked to provide detailed information about you and the child or young person you care for – this is to determine eligibility requirements and the types of assistance that will best suit your situation.

Call the Grandparent Adviser Line on freecall 1800 245 965 or visit the Australian Government Department of Human Services website https://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/centrelink/grandparent-advisers


Useful resources

Administration of allowances – for queries regarding the administration of department care allowances to carers, contact:

The Care Allowances Helpdesk

Department of Health and Human Services

Phone: 1300 552 319 Fax: 1300 788 062

Email: caregivers.mgt@dhhs.vic.gov.au

Care allowances – see Support for home-based carers in Victoria on the Department of Health and Human Services website https://services.dhhs.vic.gov.au/support-home-based-carers-victoria

Flexible funding for existing permanent carers – Support for home-based carers in Victoria on the Department of Health and Human Services website https://services.dhhs.vic.gov.au/support-home-based-carers-victoria

Support from Centrelink for non-parent carers www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/subjects/support-for-non-parent-carers

Victorian Government Carer Card Program – call the Carer Card Information Line on 1800 901 958 or email carercard@dhhs.vic.gov.au or visit http://carercard.vic.gov.au