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This section describes the following aspects of data on child care collected in the HECS.
Child care information (including usage, costs, and barriers to labour force participation due to child care related reasons) was collected from households containing resident children aged 0–12 years. The information was obtained from an adult who permanently resided in the household and was deemed to be the 'best person' able to provide this information. In the majority of cases this was the child's parent, step-parent or guardian.
Questions about type(s) of child care used (formal, informal and other), pattern of care with other parent living elsewhere, school attendance, preschool attendance and cost of care were asked in relation to each child aged 0–12 years in the household. If formal or informal care was used by a child in the last four weeks, further questions about cost, child care benefit and hours used were asked for each episode of care.
Data was collected on child care used in the four weeks prior to the personal interview, and as such most data items relate to 'last four weeks'. In addition, data is available for care types used 'in the last week' where the number of hours of care used last week was one or more.
Child Care Benefit (CCB)
CCB is assistance in the form of a payment made by the Australian Government to help with the costs of child care for families who use either approved or registered child care. The scheme is means-tested and allocates an hourly amount that can either be remitted to child care consumers after child care has been paid, or child care organisations can receive the CCB from the Government, therefore reducing the child care fees payable by the amount of the benefit.
Child Care Rebate (CCR)
The Child Care Rebate (CCR) is a payment to help families using approved child care for work, training or study related reasons. The CCR entitlement is calculated as 50% of out-of-pocket child care costs up to a maximum amount of $7,500 per child per year.
Cost of Care
The cost, gross of Child Care Benefit (CCB), to parents for a child to attend care, was collected in the HECS. Estimates of CCB and CCR are collected from the child care questions, however there has been a significant gap between the reported number of households receiving assistance and the total value of that assistance, compared to administrative records. In HECS, CCB and CCR have been modelled to improve the estimates of these payments.
Formal and informal child care
Formal care is defined as regulated care away from the child's home. The main types of formal care are before and/or after school care, long day care, family day care, occasional care and vacation care.
Informal care is defined as non-regulated care, arranged by a child's parent/guardian, either in the child's home or elsewhere. It comprises care by (step) brothers or sisters, care by grandparents, care by other relatives (including a parent living elsewhere) and care by other (unrelated) people such as friends, neighbours, nannies or babysitters. It may be paid or unpaid.
Barriers to labour force participation due to child care related reasons
Data on barriers to labour force participation due to child care related reasons was collected from parents/guardians of children aged 0–12 years in the selected household who were unemployed, did not have a job or worked part time. The data collected includes: whether people would like a job if child care was available; whether they would like to work more hours if child care was available; whether child care prevents them from working/working more hours; and what are all the reasons and the main reason child care prevents them for working/working more hours. This detail is available at the person level.
Units for analysis
The income unit is the preferred unit of analysis for child care. Resources at the income unit level are usually shared between partners in a couple relationship and with dependent children. However, there are limitations on the data provided at this level. At the income unit level, child care data are aggregated from lower levels and as such may apply to more than one child in an income unit. For example, in an income unit where more than one child was cared for by a parent living elsewhere with differing frequencies of care, the item 'Most frequent pattern of care with child's other parent living elsewhere' relates to the most frequent care pattern used by one of the children.
More than one type of care could be selected, therefore some items are multiple response in nature.
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