Parents with children enrolled in Lifelong Learning Centres owned and operated by Affinity Education Group are gaining access to additional Child Care Subsidy hours through new volunteering programs set up to improve children’s learning and development opportunities.

A Step Ahead Early Learning Ringwood Centre Manager Alexia Tyrikos said the centres participation in the Lifelong Learning Centres ‘Healthy Children’ program had been a trigger for consultation with families about increasing participation in centre programming and activities.
“Our ‘Healthy Families’ and ‘Healthy Communities’ initiatives have grown this year and we have identified opportunities to support families with access to the new Child Care Subsidy, through their voluntary activities at our centre,” Ms Tyrikos said.  
Gardening, cooking and reading programs are now running fortnightly at A Step Ahead Early Learning and parent and sports coach Lindy Dowell said she is loving the opportunity to participate.
Photo: Lindy Dowell volunteering in netball training for children at A Step Ahead Early Learning, Ringwood.
"It's a pleasure to spend time with my children in such a positive learning environment, and by including volunteering in my approved activity declaration via myGov, I was able to increase my Child Care Subsidy entitlement from 72 hours per fortnight to 100 hours per fortnight," she said. 
Ms Dowell's two children attend A Step Ahead Early Learning four days per week. By increasing her volunteering and booking into Affinity's flexible sessions, Ms Dowell is saving approximately $170.00 each fortnight in child care fees. 

At Aussie Kindies Cranbourne, the volunteering opportunities for families now include reading and the ‘Garden Club’.
Centre Manager Jenna Barton said she had been overwhelmed by the parent response.
“Our ‘Healthy Communities’ and ‘Healthy Families’ volunteering programs have really strengthened the bonds between our educators and families, and this has a positive flow-on effect for children’s learning,” Ms Barton said.
“Even better, some of our families have been able to double their fortnightly Child Care Subsidy entitlements just by adding a few hours of volunteering in our programs,” she said.
Under the new Child Care Package which started 2 July 2018, families entitlements to subsidised child care are calculated based on combined family income, number of hours of Approved Activity the lower income earning parent completes each fortnight, and the type of child care service.
Centrelink’s definition of Approved Activity includes volunteering at centre based day care services in “activities which directly support children’s learning and development”.

The Lifelong Learning Centres network, owned and operated by Affinity Education Group, has also made a free 1800 CHILD CARE hotline available for parents seeking information about how to gain the maximum Child Care Subsidy entitlements.

CEO Tim Hickey said strategies working for families include booking into flexible, shorter day sessions to spread subsidised hours over more days, and increasing Centrelink-approved activities including study and volunteering.

"Parents need to know how to make the new Child Care Package work for them, and our 1800 CHILD CARE hotline team of specialists is a very useful resource for new and existing families," he said.

To find a child care centre near you, click here.