The Childcare Subsidy helps low and middle-income families to access childcare services.  Find out more about the Childcare Subsidy and eligibility here.

What is the Childcare Subsidy?

Work and Income (formerly Work and Income New Zealand or WINZ) provides an early childhood education subsidy for eligible parents or caregivers of young children. The Childcare Subsidy assists low and middle-income families with children under the age of five to access childcare services.

Parents who are in work or training can get up to 50 hours a week Childcare Subsidy. Other parents can get up to nine hours a week so their children can attend quality early childhood education. You need to be a permanent New Zealand resident or citizen to be eligible for this support. The subsidy is based on the number and age of the children needing care, the parents’ pre-tax earnings, and the children being enrolled in a licensed and chartered childcare centre.

What is a licensed and chartered childcare?

The early childhood programme must be licensed – this includes home-based care schemes, chartered under the Education Act 1989 and Te Kohanga Reo.

A licensed/chartered ECE is one that meets operating and education standards set by the Government. Standards are set for the property, health and safety, staff, education and care programmes, and management. For more information about this read ECE Choosing a Service.

What age child does the subsidy cover?

The Childcare Subsidy is for pre-school children under 5 years and attending an early childhood programme for 3 or more hours a week, (or under 6 years if you get a Child Disability Allowance for them). You could get help with up to 9 hours of childcare a week – and in some cases you could get up to 50 hours a week if you are:

  • working, studying or on an approved training course or
  • involved in an activity that we have asked you to do or
  • a shift worker who works nights or
  • seriously ill or disabled or
  • caring for a child in hospital or a child you get a Child Disability Allowance for.

(For more info on the Child Disability Allowance see below).

What are the maximum hours for a subsidy?

If you are in work or study, or if you have special circumstances that mean you need access to childcare, you can get a Childcare Subsidy for up to 50 hours a week.

Special circumstances might mean, for example, that you need to care for a sick partner, or that you need to attend regular medical treatment for yourself.

If you are not in work or study you can get a Childcare Subsidy for up to nine hours a week if you meet the financial requirements.

How do I know if I qualify?

To qualify for either subsidy you must also meet these conditions:

  • you must be the main caregiver of the child and
  • your family must be on a low or middle income (this could mean you’re on income support) and
  • you must be a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident and
  • your child must have at least 3 hours of care a week.

You can’t get a Childcare Subsidy for more than 9 hours a week if the child’s other caregiver can care for them (unless you get a Child Disability Allowance for that child).

If you are ill or disabled because of an accident you need to talk with ACC first.

How much will I get?

How much you are entitled to depends on the size of your family, your income, and how many hours a week your child goes to the care provider.

You will not see the subsidy as it is paid directly to the care provider you choose.

You can estimate the amount you may receive here. This table will give you an idea of what you may be entitled to receive.

Your subsidy starts from the date the care starts (or from the date you apply if you apply after the care starts) and will be reviewed:

  • the day after your job or course ends
  • after 12 weeks if you stop work because you are ill or injured
  • when your child reaches the age limit for the subsidy
  • when your child leaves the pre-school facility or OSCAR programme or
  • the child leaves your care.

If you’re getting the Childcare Subsidy and your child turns 5 but doesn’t start school straight away, you may receive the subsidy for up to 28 days after their 5th birthday.

OSCAR Subsidy

The OSCAR Subsidy (Out of School Care and Recreation Subsidy) provides  financial assistance for families for children aged 5 to 13 (or up to 18 years if they receive a Child Disability Allowance). It helps towards the costs of before and after school programmes of up to 20 hours a week and school holiday programmes of up to 50 hours a week.

You could get this subsidy if you:

  • are working, doing a work related activity or studying,
  • are seriously ill or disabled,
  • are Paid a Child Disability Allowance for any of your children,
  • are Caring for a child that is in hospital.

The service that provides the after school care must be approved by Child, Youth and Family.

You can’t get an OSCAR Subsidy if the child’s other caregiver can take care of the child, unless you get a Child Disability Allowance for that child.

How do I apply for the subsidy?

You can apply for the Childcare subsidy online, click here.

Alternatively you can call Working For Families on 0800 559 009 and they’ll send you a form to fill in.

You’ll need to get part of the form filled in by the person who runs your care service.

When you apply for the Childcare Subsidy you’ll need to bring proof of:

  • your (and your partner’s) identity and residency,
  • any name changes you or your partner have had,
  • your bank account number(s),
  • children living with you who you support,
  • your (and your partner’s) IRD number,
  • your (and your partner’s) last pay and all income for the last 26 and 52 weeks, any assets you or your partner own which could earn income,
  • any benefit or pension you or your partner get from overseas,
  • the hours you (and your partner) must be at your job or course,
  • and the childcare centre your child is attending.

Important things to make a note of

You need to be sure to tell Work and Income about any changes to you or your partner’s circumstances immediately. These changes could be anything that changes your life and may affect your subsidy entitlement.

For example, you should let Work and Income know if:

  • your or your partner’s income changes
  • your child stops going or moves to another early childhood programme or OSCAR programme
  • there is a change in your child’s attendance
  • the number of hours you (or your partner) work or study each week changes
  • your child’s other caregiver becomes able to look after the child
  • the circumstance you get a subsidy for changes – for instance your health improves or your child leaves hospital.

A word of warning!

Not telling Work and Income of any changes could mean you end up missing out on extra payments or, on the flip side, you may end up being paid more than you should in which case you could end up with a debt to pay back.

Information you supply to Work and Income may be checked against employers, banks and schools and other government agencies.

Child Disability Allowance

The Child Disability Allowance is paid to the main caregiver of a child with a serious disability. It is paid because of the extra care that may be needed by a child who has a physical, sensory, psychiatric or intellectual disability. There is no income or asset test for this allowance.

It is a fortnightly non-means-tested payment of $45.62 (weekly rate, non-taxable) that can be made to the parent or guardian of a seriously disabled child who lives at home and requires constant care and attention. This allowance may also be available when the child lives in a home or hostel and the child’s parent or guardian is required to contribute to the costs of maintaining them.

For more information on this allowance visit Work and Income’s website:


For up-to-date child disability allowance rates, refer to the following page:

Current Rate for Child Disability Allowance

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Kylie Valentine is a qualified secondary school teacher, trained journalist, and the mum of two fabulous children.

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Child disability allowance has increased and is now $45.24/week paid fortnightly.

Rochelle Gribble

Thanks for that update, Jenna! I’ve updated our information 🙂

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