Family day care operators put on notice after investigators uncover suspected fraud worth $300 million

Investigation finds evidence of child swapping & phantom claims kids playing  image

A crackdown on childcare payments rorts has found “phantom claims” and “child swapping” are contributing to suspected fraud worth $300 million, the Federal Government says.

Assistant Education Minister Sussan Ley said the vast majority of suspected improper claims were coming from family day care operations.

“The common thing is that there’s a claim made for childcare benefit or childcare rebate for care that hasn’t taken place,” Ms Ley said.

The Government’s compliance investigation has identified cases of “phantom claims” where taxpayer funds were claimed for non-existent children.

It also found evidence of “child swapping”, cases where groups of parents become accredited as childcare providers and fraudulently claim to have looked after each others’ children in order to receive benefits.

Ms Ley said parents could check for evidence of rorting themselves.

“I also stress the importance of families checking their childcare statements for any irregularities,” she said.

The Government said there were prosecutions under consideration and about $4 million had been recovered so far.

About 50 childcare services have faced compliance action since the Coalition was elected last year, including suspensions, cancelled accreditation and fines of more than $2.5 million.

The number of family daycare centres has doubled over the past four years.

Henry Sapiecha

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