The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. The information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to relevant legislation/policy. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia. Foster child HCC


This topic outlines the qualification criteria for the foster child HCC, as well as the following related issues:

  • what constitutes foster care
  • age requirements
  • approved care organisations
  • POI requirements, and
  • cardholders travelling overseas.

Qualification (1.1.Q.10) criteria

A HCC can be claimed for, and issued to the carer of, any child who is in FOSTER CARE where the:

  • foster carer is an Australian resident or an SCV holder living in Australia
  • child is living in Australia with the foster carer, and
  • child is under 19 years of age.

Note: While the HCC is claimed by the carer, it is issued only in the name of the child, and is solely for the benefit of the child.

Note: A NARWP ( applies to HCCs where they are not issued automatically, including the foster child HCC. The NARWP for the foster child HCC applies to the child as the child is the person who qualifies for the card. No NARWP applies to the foster carer.

It is longstanding policy that becoming a foster child can be regarded as a substantial change of circumstances beyond the child’s control and therefore all children who qualify for a HCC because they are foster children can be exempt from the NARWP.

Act reference: SSAct section 7(2) An Australian resident is a person who: …, section 1061ZO(2) This section applies to a person on a day …, section 1061ZO(5) This section applies to a child on a day …, section 1061ZQ Newly arrived resident's waiting period (HCC), section 1061ZQ(2)(e) Newly arrived resident’s waiting period (SpB NARWP exemption), section 5(1)-'child'

Policy reference: SS Guide 1.1.N.70 Newly arrived resident's waiting period (NARWP), Newly arrived resident's waiting period (NARWP), Exemptions from the NARWP, Substantial change in circumstances for SpB

Foster care

A child is considered to be in foster care where:

  • the child is not the natural or adopted child of the carer, and
  • the carer is responsible for the day-to-day care, welfare and development of the child.

Foster care refers to both FORMAL and INFORMAL care arrangements:

  • formal foster care is defined as care managed by a state or territory child protection or welfare authority, and
  • informal foster care is defined as care provided by a relative (for example, a grandparent or aunt), or by a friend through a private arrangement.

Note: A child who is living away from the foster carer in order to study can still be regarded as being in foster care.

Example: At a boarding school.

Age requirements

In order to qualify for a foster child HCC, the child must meet the formal or informal foster care arrangements and be under 19 years of age.

Upon turning 19 years of age, a child in foster care can access a HCC (LIC) in their own right.

Act reference: SSAct section 1061ZO(5) This section applies to a child on a day …, section 5(1)-'child'


The measure to provide foster children with HCCs was introduced to assist FAMILIES and INDIVIDUALS who take up foster care. Only a 'natural person' (as the foster carer) can be an 'Australian resident' and meet the HCC qualification criteria. An ACO is not a natural person and so cannot assist a child to qualify for the HCC. Where a claim for a foster child HCC is identified as being made by or on behalf of an ACO, the claim must be rejected.

Note: Children who are residing in ACOs may be eligible for a LIC in certain circumstances.

Act reference: SSAct section 1061ZO(2) to (4) This section applies to a person on a day …

Policy reference: SS Guide Qualification for LIC, HCC Provisions for Children & Dependants

POI requirements

In recognition of the difficulties often faced by foster carers in providing POI for the foster children in their care, alternative POI arrangements are available. A letter of introduction or identity verification from a relevant agency is an acceptable alternative POI for children in foster care, or a foster family accessing a HCC.

Cardholders travelling overseas

Foster child HCCs can remain current for up to 6 weeks if the holder departs Australia temporarily.

Act reference: SSAct section 1061ZO(5) This section applies to a child on a day …

Last reviewed: