Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund

The Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund will be a key enabler to deliver new early childhood education initiatives that directly support those who need it most – children, families and the workforce.

Boosting access and affordability of ECEC services

The 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.

The Flexible Initiatives Trial will be the first program under the Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund and is designed to address concerns about choice and availability of quality early childhood education experiences.

The Trial will provide support for services to offer NSW families access to early childhood education when and where they need it most, including new places in areas of low supply, after-hours care, flexible pick-up and drop-off times, and flexibility in enrolments.

The Flexible Initiatives Trial is the first in a suite of programs to be delivered under the Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund in 2023-24, which will see an initial investment of $100 million to trial and test innovative solutions to challenges faced by the ECEC sector.

The Fund will be used to provide $500 per child of fee relief to 3 year old children attending eligible preschool programs in long day care centres, effective from early 2024.

Additional programs will be made available over the coming months to support uplift related to workforce, capital works and localised responses to demand.

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.

The Fund will be used to develop a pipeline of capital investment programs to support not-for-profit preschool and long day care providers to build more places in local communities that need them.


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.

The Fund will be used to develop options, in consultation with the sector, to support a trial for ECEC services to offer free or low cost ECEC for the children of their teachers and educators.

A Business Capability Development Program will also be launched through the Fund, to improve the sustainability and viability of small and standalone early childhood education services. This initiative is designed to directly support the early childhood education workforce by upskilling staff in identified areas.

Learn more about department support for the early learning workforce..

Fund governance

The Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund has been legislated as a statutory authority. Find out more about the Fund governance.

The first program under Fund is now open for applications

With a pool of up to $20 million over 2 years, the Flexible Initiatives Trial will provide grants to support existing ECEC service providers to trial new or adapted operating models to better meet the needs of children and families and allow parents to enter the workforce or increase their hours.

Detailed program guidelines, example scenarios and links to register for an information session on 12 or 24 October 2023 are now available on our Flexible Initiatives Trial pages.

Applications for round 1 of the Flexible Initiatives Trial close on 1 December 2023.

More information

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  • Early childhood education

Business Unit:

  • Early Childhood Outcomes
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