Additional Targeted Equity Loading Funding

Additional Targeted Equity Loading (ATEL) provides additional funding to eligible community and mobile preschools receiving funding under the 2024 Start Strong for Community Preschools program. This additional funding supports services to deliver activities that increase inclusion and participation in early childhood education and care (ECEC) for children 3 years old and above from targeted equity cohorts.

Targeted equity cohorts for ATEL are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, children with disability or additional needs, children from a language background other than English who require English language assistance (ELA), and children from low-income households.

Key features of the program

Spending rules and activities

ATEL funding is to be used by services to benefit children from the eligible cohorts listed in Section 5.2: Child eligibility of the program guidelines to increase eligible children’s inclusion and participation in ECEC. The spending rules for ATEL funding are:

  • additional funding to reduce fees after all Start Strong funds have been exhausted and/or
  • inclusive education and/or inclusion readiness activities, such as through:
    • salaries and wages
    • educational resources including reducing and/or eliminating indirect costs of attending the ECEC service for eligible children
    • other operating costs: These are expenses that go beyond staff salaries and educational resources. They can include rental and license costs, maintenance, upgrades to and cleaning of the facility, utility expenses, professional development, language or cultural programs, technology or software costs, accounting and audit expenses, etc.
    • activities that support child and family engagement and which increase participation such as community outreach activities to build positive relationships with families and increase parental awareness of the benefits of ECEC.

Funding cannot support initiatives already completed or existing. Funding can be used to extend existing initiatives.

Approved services are not to increase the cost of daily fees or other costs to offset the benefit of ATEL.

ATEL funds must be spent by 31 December 2024.

Rules related to funding to reduce fees

Services are able to expend ATEL funds at their discretion within the requirements of the spending rules. Where ATEL is used to reduce fees it can only be applied after all Start Strong Fee Relief funds have been exhausted. Services are also able to use ATEL funding to offset other costs such as enrolment and excursions costs.

Services must communicate fee reductions to families through regular invoices and statements or other means if there are no invoices or statements available. Funding to reduce fees should also be included in annual financial accountability reporting. See Section 10: Financial reporting and data collection of the program guidelines.


To be eligible for funding, services must meet all the following criteria:

  • Services must be a community or mobile preschool eligible for and receiving funding under the NSW Start Strong for Community Preschools or the Mobile Preschool Funding Program in 2024.

  • Services must be an approved ECEC service under the Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010 (National Law) and Education and Care Services National Regulations.

  • Services must accept and comply with the relevant funding agreement which will be provided to services eligible for funding.

  • Services have submitted a representative fortnight of data from a period in 2023 in response to the preschool census or an ad hoc submission.

Funding is calculated using information submitted by preschools during the 2023 representative fortnight in the preschool census.

To be eligible for ATEL funding, a service must have had a child who is at least 3 years old enrolled on or before 31 July 2024 (the child must have a birthdate on, or before, 31 July 2021) and be one of the following:

  • enrolled in a community or mobile service that has a 2021 SEIFA decile 1 or 2 (IRSD, SA2, NSW Ranking), and meets at least one ATEL eligible cohort
  • enrolled in a community or mobile preschool with any SEIFA decile and meets two or more of the ATEL eligible cohorts

Next steps

  • Services eligible for ATEL funding will receive an email in May from the department.
  • Services will need to accept the standard terms and conditions and agree to receive the funding. Directions for doing this will be included in communication from the department in May.
  • Services must only use the funds for activities outlined in Section 6.1: Spending rules and activities of the program guidelines.
  • Following the delivery of funds, providers must follow the financial reporting and data collection requirements per the terms and conditions.
  • More details can be found in the program guidelines.

More information

Read the detailed program guidelines.


Early Childhood Education Information and Enquiries team
1800 619 113


  • Early childhood education

Business Unit:

  • Early Childhood Outcomes
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