Childcare Subsidy

Childcare Subsidy is a payment that helps families with the cost of pre-school childcare.

Who can get it

You may get a Childcare Subsidy if:

  • you're the main carer of a dependent child
  • you're a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident
  • your family is on a low or middle income.

You should also normally live in New Zealand and intend to stay here.

It also depends on how much you and your partner earn.

The child must be:

  • aged either:
    • under 5, or
    • over 5 if they're going to a cohort entry school (where new entrants start together on a set date after they turn 5), or
    • under 6 if you get a Child Disability Allowance for them
  • attending an approved early childhood programme for 3 or more hours a week.

Approved programmes include early childhood education and care services, eg:

  • kindergartens and preschools
  • childcare centres and creches
  • playcentres and playgroups
  • Kohanga Reo, Punanga Reo, Aoga and other programmes with a language and culture focus
  • approved home-based care.

Check if you can get Childcare Subsidy

To find out if you could get Childcare Subsidy and what else you might qualify for, use our 'Check what you might get' tool.

  • Hours paid for

    A Childcare Subsidy is normally paid for up to 9 hours of childcare a week if you're not working, studying or training.

    You may be able to get up to 50 hours a week if you're in one of these situations:

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

    In most cases you can't get the Childcare Subsidy for more than 9 hours a week if the child's other parent or caregiver can care for them.

    Families getting 20 hours Early Childhood Education (ECE) can't get the Childcare Subsidy for the same hours.

  • How much you can get

    How much you get depends on:

    • the size of your family
    • your income
    • how many hours a week your child goes to the childcare provider.

    Childcare assistance starts from the date the care starts (or from the date you apply if you apply after it starts). All subsidies are paid directly to the childcare provider.

  • How to apply


    We suggest you apply at least 3 to 4 weeks before you need your subsidy to start.

    We can grant you the financial assistance you're entitled to from the date you first contact us, or the date your childcare started, whichever is later, if you complete your application within 20 working days of that date.

    If you're a Youth Service client, you need to talk to your Youth Service provider.

    Apply for Childcare Subsidy only

    • You and your partner (if you have one) need to complete the Childcare Assistance application form.
    • Your childcare provider also needs to complete the supervisor's section inside this form.
    • You'll need to email the application form, and any other documents we've asked you to get to or you can ask your childcare provider to send this to us on your behalf.

    Apply for Childcare Subsidy and other payments

    You can apply online through MyMSD. We'll also check to see if you can get any other help from us based on the answers you give in your application.

    Once you've applied online, we'll tell you what you need to do. This will include having to get your childcare provider to complete the supervisor's section of the Childcare Assistance application form

  • Reviews and changes

    Childcare assistance is reviewed regularly. It also usually stops or is reviewed:

    • the day after your job or course ends
    • after 12 weeks if you stop work because you have a health condition or are injured
    • when your child reaches the age limit for the subsidy
    • when your child leaves the pre-school facility or Out of School Care and Recreation (OSCAR) programme
    • if the child leaves your care.

    You must also tell us straight away about any changes in your circumstances that could affect your payments, eg:

    • if you or your partner's income changes
    • if your child stops going or moves to another early childhood programme or OSCAR programme
    • if there's a change in your child's attendance
    • if the number of hours you (or your partner) work or study each week changes
    • if the reason why you get a subsidy changes, eg your health improves or your child leaves hospital
    • your child starts or stops receiving 20 Hours ECE.