Out of School Care and Recreation (OSCAR) Subsidy

Out of School Care and Recreation (OSCAR) Subsidy is a payment which helps families with the costs of before and after school care for up to 20 hours a week, and school holiday programmes for up to 50 hours a week.


OSCAR services can operate at any traffic light setting as long as the follow public health guidelines for each setting.

Find out more about operating at different traffic light settings.

Keep in touch

If you have any questions about this or any other issues, you can email Community_Information@msd.govt.nz

  • Who can get it

    You may be able to get an OSCAR 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 also need to be 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 Child Disability Allowance for.

    You can't get the OSCAR Subsidy if the child's other parent or caregiver can take care of the child.

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

    To receive your OSCAR subsidy from the day your child starts the programme, you need to submit your application to us before your child's first day. This is especially important at school holidays.

    The child or young person must:

    • normally live in New Zealand
    • be at school
    • be under 14 (or under 18 if you get a Child Disability Allowance for them)
    • be attending an approved OSCAR programme for at least 3 hours a week, which includes:
      • before school
      • after school
      • holiday programmes and camps.

    Check if you can get OSCAR Subsidy

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

  • How much you can get

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

    If you don't know how many hours of care you'll need each week (because you're a casual or on-call worker for instance) we'll talk with you about your options when you apply for a subsidy.

    All subsidies are paid directly to the childcare provider.

    When does it start from?

    Childcare assistance starts from the date the care starts (or from the date you apply if you apply after it starts).

  • Benefits of choosing an OSCAR approved programme

    The OSCAR Standards provide reassurance to parents and caregivers that a programme is properly run and takes place in a safe environment for children. In addition, parents and caregivers may qualify for an OSCAR Subsidy. Parents of children attending unapproved programmes cannot receive an OSCAR Subsidy.

  • 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 OSCAR 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 Centralised_childcare_reviews@msd.govt.nz or you can ask your childcare provider to send this to us on your behalf.

    Apply for OSCAR 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 OSCAR programme
    • if the child leaves your care.

    Changes in your circumstances

    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.


This information is a guide only.

Contact us to talk about your individual circumstances.