Priority for allocating places

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Sometimes, there may be a waiting list for child care services and to ensure the system is fair, the Australian Government has 'Priority of Access Guidelines' for allocating places in these circumstances. The guidelines only apply to Child Care Benefit approved child care. They are used when there is a waiting list for a child care service or when a number of parents are applying for a limited number of vacant places.

Every Child Care Benefit approved child care service has to abide by the guidelines and tell you about them when you enrol your child into care.


  • First Priority: a child at risk of serious abuse or neglect
  • Second Priority: a child of a single parent who satisfies, or of parents who both satisfy, the work/training/study test under Section 14 of the 'A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999'
  • Third Priority: any other child.

Within these main categories priority should also be given to the following children:

  • children in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families
  • children in families which include a disabled person
  • children in families which include an individual whose adjusted taxable income does not exceed the lower income threshold of $43,727 for 2015-2016, or who or whose partner are on income support
  • children in families from a non-English speaking background
  • children in socially isolated families
  • children of single parents.

A child care service may require a Priority 3 child to vacate a place to make room for a child with a higher priority. They can only do so if you:

  • are notified when your child first entered care that your service follows this policy
  • are given at least 14 days notice of the need for your child to vacate.

Outside School Hours Care

Outside School Hours Care is primarily for school children. A service may ask a child not yet in school to leave care if a child who is in school applies for a place.

Employer sponsored places

If a child care service is funded by an employer for their employees' children it can give priority to those children.