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.
The Care Allowance: what’s it for?
The Care Allowance you receive is provided to help you cover the costs of caring for a child or young person.
You are expected to use the allowance to cover the day-to-day costs of looking after the child or young person in your care, such as:
- clothing & footwear
- daily travel
- suitable car restraints
- household provisions & costs
- hobbies & activities
- general educational expenses
- general medical expenses
- pocket money.
You don’t have to keep receipts to show FACS how you spent the Care Allowance on everyday items. However, receipts are usually required for out-of-pocket expenses that are part of the child’s Case Plan, for example, the cost of healthcare, childcare and some education services.
Non-government agencies have similar policies; check with your caseworker for details.
The Care Allowance is not counted as income by Centrelink, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) or financial institutions.
Types of Care Allowances
There are three types of Care Allowances.
The Statutory Care Allowance is a fortnightly payment provided for each child under 18 in statutory care who lives with you. The amount may vary depending on the child’s age and any special care needs.
The Supported Care Allowance is a fortnightly payment to eligible relative and kinship carers for children in their care. The allowance is only paid if FACS determines the child or young person is ‘in need of care and protection’ and the Children’s Court, Family Court or Federal Circuit Court makes an order allocating full parental responsibility to the child or young person’s authorised relative or kinship carer.
The Guardianship Allowance Guardians receive an allowance, known as a Guardianship Allowance, to enable them to meet the needs of the child or young person. This allowance is the same rate as the FACS statutory Care Allowance and is based on the individual needs of the child or young person.
In most cases, payment of the Care Allowance is reviewed annually to make sure the most appropriate allowance is provided. It’s also reviewed whenever there’s a change in the child or young person’s circumstances or placement.
Financial support for families who adopt
Carers often see adoption as a way of making a lifelong emotional and practical commitment to a child. New adoptive parents may be eligible for financial support including the Out-Of-Home Care (OOHC) Adoption Annual Payment and the Adoption Transition Support Payment.
Tell your caseworker if your banking details change
If you are changing your banking arrangements, be sure to let your caseworker know as soon as possible so you don’t miss any payments. It can take a few working days to process the change of details.
Care Allowances for children and young people who move interstate
Sometimes carers want or need to move interstate and wish to take the child in their care with them to their new home. FACS will need to approve the move. If you are a carer with a non-government agency, contact the agency and let them deal directly with FACS. If the child or young person’s parents do not approve the transfer, the case may go to the Children’s Court.
The continuation of the Care Allowance for carers moving interstate depends on whether parental responsibility is held by the carer, the Minister, or is shared between the two.
Where the parental responsibility lies with or is shared with the Minister, the Care Allowance will continue until the care order is transferred to the other state.
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 three months to cover the transition period. This is the case whether the placement has been arranged through FACS or through a non-government agency. Any payment after this time is at the discretion of FACS or the relevant agency.
Sometimes FACS places children and young people with interstate carers. If you were living interstate or had plans to move interstate at the time the placement was made, then FACS will pay the Care Allowance until the child in care turns 18 or until the care order is transferred to the other state.
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.
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