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 is set to create real and long-lasting change for NSW families where it is needed most. Over the next 10 years, the Fund will improve supply of, and equitable access to, affordable quality early childhood education and care services for NSW families and children, and it will support and grow the ECEC workforce. This will support increased economic opportunity and workforce participation, particularly for women.
Bold and exciting new initiatives are being developed to respond with long-term solutions to the most pressing needs of the early learning sector, of families and of children. Key priorities for the Fund include:
- increasing access to quality early childhood education across NSW
- providing parents with more flexible offerings
- addressing service viability challenges
- attracting, retaining and developing a highly skilled ECEC workforce.
The Flexible Initiatives Trial (FIT) is 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 FIT 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 FIT is the first in a suite of programs to be delivered under the Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund in its first year of operation, 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 fee relief for 3-year-old children attending eligible preschool programs in long day care centres, in a 2-year trial commencing in early 2024 that will save parents $500 a year.
- $64 million has been allocated to the trial over the next 2 years.
- An initial payment of $24,638,060 has been allocated to the department in accordance with the Fee relief trial funding program guidelines (PDF 127KB).
- The Board has elected to have the fee relief delivered through the department’s Start Strong for Long Day Care program.
A Business Capability Development Program to support the viability and sustainability of small and stand-alone ECEC providers will be trialled in 3 regions of the state in 2024 to support access to quality, affordable services for NSW families.
Also in 2024, a total pool of $20 million will be made available to support the growth of not-for-profit ECEC services in high demand areas, and there will be a trial to offer free or low-cost ECEC for the children of ECEC teachers and educators.
Support for the early childhood education and care workforce is a priority for the Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund. The Department of Education is working with the sector to develop innovative new approaches to help attract and retain the current and next generations of early childhood teachers and educators.
Both the trial for ECEC services to offer free or low cost ECEC for the children of their teachers and educators and the Business Capability Development Program trial have been designed to directly support the early childhood education workforce in response to sector feedback.
Learn more about department support for the early learning workforce.
Fund governance and strategy
The Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund has been legislated as a statutory authority and is governed by a 5-member Board which includes members with wide-ranging sector experience and expertise.
The Board works with the NSW Government to set the strategic direction for investment by the Fund, responding to the Independent Market Monitoring Report and government policy.
The Fund is managed by the NSW Department of Education, which is working in consultation with services, sector organisations and supporting agencies, government, communities and families to ensure its initiatives are delivered how, where and when they are needed most.