Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund

Boosting access and affordability of ECEC services

The $5 billion Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund will boost access to and affordability of early childhood education and care services for NSW families and children over the next 10 years.

Targeting priority needs

The Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund will target known barriers to families accessing quality early childhood education and care by providing major incentives to enable providers to extend their services to more families, more affordably.  

It will help existing services – including not-for-profit and private providers – to grow in size and quality and it will improve the viability of existing services, particularly in regional and rural locations. The Fund will also support services to drive down their fees for families and to build, retain and better reward their workforce.


A priority for the Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund will be the early childhood education and care workforce. The Department of Education is keen to work with the sector on developing innovative new approaches to help attract and retain the next generation of early childhood teachers and educators.

This may include offering more attractive employee packages. 

Backing innovation and growth

The Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund will help create a range of opportunities for the early childhood education and care sector to innovate and grow.

In addition to workforce initiatives, priority investments for the Fund could include:

  • building larger facilities
  • forming new partnerships to deliver more affordable early childhood education and care places
  • helping providers start new services in areas where there is a shortage of places
  • helping services to operate in communities that need extra help to stay viable
  • trialling new service models to meet the needs of modern families.

Fund governance

The Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund has been legislated as a statutory entity.

The establishment of the Fund in legislation provide:

  • enhanced transparency and accountability to the operation of the Fund
  • certainty of long-term funding
  • enhanced investment confidence and
  • assurance the Fund delivers on its strategic intent to boost accessibility and affordability of quality early childhood education and care and improve outcomes for NSW children and families.

The NSW Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund Act 2022 includes the establishment of a special deposits account for the Fund, and the creation of a statutory entity – the Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund Board.

The Fund Board

Julia Davison and Megan Mitchell, AM, have been appointed as independent members of the Board of the Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund.

Ms Davison and Ms Mitchell bring extensive expertise and experience in the early childhood education and care sector to these important strategic advisory roles.

Julia Davison was the founding CEO of Goodstart Early Learning, the not-for-profit organisation formed by a syndicate of leading community sector organisations to purchase and operate more than 650 of the former ABC Learning Centres.

Julia has extensive senior management experience in the health and public sectors in Australia and the UK. She has a strong interest in public policy, having completed a Masters in Public Administration at the Harvard Kennedy School. She is a passionate advocate for investment in the early years, better access and high quality provision.

In her tenure at Goodstart Julia has led the creation of a unique social enterprise – an at scale organisation with a turnover of $1.3 billion that is driven by its purpose to ensure that young children have the learning, development and wellbeing outcomes they need for school and life. She has also enabled educators to lift the quality of the services they provide and enabled a more inclusive organisation where no child is turned away.

From 2013 to 2020 Megan served as Australia’s first National Children’s Commissioner. In this role, she focused on the rights and interests of children, and the programs, policies and laws that impact on them. As Commissioner, Megan conducted a number of focused investigations into human rights issues for children, monitored and reported on Australia’s performance in promoting the rights of children in line with its international obligations and led the development of national principles for child safe organisations.

Previously, Megan was the NSW Commissioner for Children and Young People and has had an extensive career in senior leadership positions in child protection and out of home care, disability, juvenile justice and early childhood services. Megan was also the CEO of the Australian Council for Social Service for a number of years.

Megan holds post graduate qualifications in Psychology, Social Policy and Education, and is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. She is currently working in research and consultancy roles, undertaking a PhD at the University of Sydney and serving as a director on a number of government and non-government boards.

The Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund Board also includes:

  • the nominee of the Secretary of the NSW Department of Education, Simone Walker, Group Deputy Secretary, NSW Department of Education
  • the Treasury Secretary or an employee of Treasury nominated by the Secretary
  • the Department of Education nominee, Ruth Owen GAICD, Chief Operating Officer, NSW Department of Education.

The Board will help guide decision making for investments by the Fund and will consult widely to ensure it is informed by a diversity of perspectives, including input from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee.

The first Board meeting was held in April 2023.

Support for the sector

IPART review of affordability, accessibility and consumer choice

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) is reviewing the early learning sector to assess the affordability, accessibility and consumer choice in NSW.

IPART is an independent NSW Government agency which conducts reviews through a transparent and impartial process.

IPART will recommend ways to improve affordability, accessibility and consumer choice in early childhood education and care in NSW. It will not be considering price regulation. IPARTs intention is not to negatively impact quality and safety outcomes through any of the review's recommendations.

IPART will deliver an interim report for public comment in August 2023 and a final report to Government by December 2023. Find out more about the IPART review.

The IPART Review is being conducted around the same time as an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) price inquiry into childcare.

The IPART Review is different from the ACCC inquiry. The IPART Review will examine different questions and issues to the ACCC inquiry, with a focus on the distinct NSW sector, including how supply and demand affect affordability, accessibility and consumer choice.

The IPART Review will also look at all parts of the early learning sector in NSW, including community, mobile and department preschools, unlike the ACCC inquiry.

The NSW Department of Education is in regular communication with the Commonwealth to promote alignment between the IPART Review and the ACCC price inquiry. We acknowledge that there is some burden on the sector to participate in both the IPART Review and the ACCC price inquiry, but this is a great opportunity for the sector to contribute to collecting essential information to help guide policy development and future funding decisions. IPART and the ACCC are cooperating and want to make this as easy as possible for the sector to share information with both agencies.

The Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund will open for applications from 2023-24

Consultation on priority areas for the Fund commenced in late 2022 and detailed guidelines for accessing the Fund will be released in 2023, before the Fund opens for applications.

Services and sector organisations (including long day care services, community and mobile preschools), will be able to apply for funding from financial year 2023-24.

More information

For all the latest updates from Early Childhood Education, you can follow us on Facebook.

To provide feedback or ask us a question please contact us.

Return to top of page Back to top