Fund governance

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

The establishment of the Fund in legislation provides:

  • enhanced transparency and accountability to the operation of the Fund
  • certainty of long-term funding
  • enhanced investment confidence
  • 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 Secretary of the NSW Department of Education or an employee of the department nominated by the Secretary. The Secretary has nominated Mark Barraket, Deputy Secretary, Early Childhood Outcomes, NSW Department of Education as the Board’s Chairperson.
  • The Treasury Secretary or an employee of Treasury nominated by the Secretary. The Secretary has nominated Craig Layton, Executive Director, Strategic Policy, Education and Customer Service, NSW Treasury.
  • A staff member of the NSW Department of Education. The Minister for Education and Early Learning has appointed Jenny Merkley, Executive Director, System Stewardship, Early Childhood Outcomes, 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.

Board meetings

Board communiques (below) provide a summary of key items discussed.

2024

The Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund Board (the Board) met on Thursday 22 February 2024, online via Microsoft Teams.

The Board considered the financial report with the current funding profile and financial status of the Fund.

The Board approved the Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund Grants Framework (the Framework) and associated checklists, noting that the checklists have been developed to support implementation of the NSW Grants Administration Guide.

The Board also approved the recommended applications submitted as part of round 1 of the Flexible Initiatives Trial (FIT) and noted that round 2 of the program is scheduled to open for submissions in the second quarter of 2024. The FIT program aims to address barriers to parental workforce participation, improve accessibility of early childhood education and care (ECEC) and support the ECEC workforce and sector by promoting flexible approaches to service delivery.

The Board noted the updated program guidelines for the Business Capability Development Program (BCDP). The BCDP aims to improve viability and sustainability of services operated by small ECEC providers in identified priority locations through tailored business capability support. It is anticipated that the program will be open to submissions later in 2024.

The Board discussed, and provided strategic input, to develop priorities for the first strategic investment plan which will guide decision making over the 3-year period from the 2024-25 financial year. The identification of priority areas for investment and key enablers for achieving the Fund objectives was made, using the Board-endorsed assessment approach.

The Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund Board (the Board) met on Thursday 21 March 2024, online via Microsoft Teams.

The Board considered updates on CEO Fund programs and a quarterly risk management report. Updated governance arrangements were approved to ensure advice on the development and delivery of programs can be provided through the recently revised internal Department of Education governance.

The Board approved the updated program guidelines for the Flexible Initiatives Trial (FIT) program. The guidelines were reviewed following consultation with relevant stakeholders and incorporated learnings from Round 1 of the program. The guidelines meet the requirements of the updated NSW Government’s Grants Administration Guide and will be in place for Round 2 of FIT applications.

The Board considered priorities for the first Strategic Investment Plan, which will guide investment decisions over a 3-year period from the 2024-25 financial year. The Board approved priorities, and high-level program areas that target these, for consideration by government and inclusion in the Strategic Investment Plan.

The Board discussed possible initiatives to support the early childhood education and care workforce and considered linkages with work already underway within the department. The Board endorsed further development focusing on workforce retention and attraction to be developed under the Strategic Investment Plan.

Finally, the Board noted progress and estimated timeframes for delivery of the Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund Strategy; and received advice as to the potential high-level qualitative and quantitative incremental benefits that could be achieved through 10 years of Fund investment.

2023

At the Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund Board (the Board) meeting held on Thursday 24 August 2023 at 8 Central Avenue, Eveleigh, the Board received updates on various matters relating to the Fund.

An update on the Board’s instrument of delegation was provided and approved by the Board.

The Board discussed and provided input on the risk appetite statement. This also included a discussion around alignment of the risk policy and framework with the NSW Department of Education’s policies.

The Board discussed and endorsed program guidelines for the Early Childhood Education and Care Flexible Initiatives Trial, which will proceed to the NSW Minister for Education and Early Learning and NSW Treasury for approval. The Board also discussed a Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund (the Fund) communications and engagement plan, which will include the launch of the new program, if approved.

The Board endorsed an overview of planned stakeholder engagement for the first Strategic Investment Plan, a key deliverable for the Board under the Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund Act 2022.

Prepared by: Simone Walker, Chairperson, Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund Board

At the Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund Board (the Board) meeting held on Thursday 23 November 2023 at 8 Central Avenue, Eveleigh, the Board received updates on various matters relating to the Fund.

The Board approved the pilot of a framework to support the application of the NSW Grants Administration Guide to Fund programs.

The Board noted the launch of the first Fund program, the Flexible Initiatives Trial (FIT) and the status of Fund programs and priorities for 2023-24. The FIT is the first in a suite of programs to be delivered under the Fund, including providing $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.

A proposal for a new program to enhance the viability and sustainability of NSW Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) services was discussed. The program aims to uplift workforce business leadership and management capabilities. The Board endorsed the program through a business case and program guidelines, which will proceed to the NSW Minister for Education and Early Learning and NSW Treasurer for approval.

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) provided a briefing to the Board on its interim report into its review of early childhood education and care in NSW.

The Board discussed risk management and endorsed a shared audit and risk committee arrangement be considered by the Department of Education. The Board also noted progress in development of an enterprise risk register for the Fund and engaged in discussion and provided strategic input around the identified risks.

Finally, the Board discussed and endorsed progress on development of the Fund’s first Strategic Investment Plan, part of a 10-year strategy for the Fund. The Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund Act 2022 requires the Board to prepare the first Strategic Investment Plan by 30 June 2024.

Prepared by: Mark Barraket, Chairperson, Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund Board

The Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund Board (the Board) met on Friday 15 December 2023, online via Microsoft Teams.

The Board discussed, and provided strategic input, to the early childhood education and care (ECEC) market assessment and capital feasibility study. The study will take a longterm view and identify capital and property related drivers across ECEC services in NSW.

The Board noted the preliminary development and scoping of a 2023-24 capital works trial program to drive growth of not-for-profit ECEC services in high demand areas. This initiative is expected to fund capital works grants ahead of broader capital initiatives being developed for delivery in future years as part of the Strategic Investment Plan.

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) provided a briefing to the Board on the independent market monitoring review of the childcare sector market. The Board commissioned IPART to undertake the independent review required under the Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund Act 2022 as input to the development of strategic investment plans.

The Board was briefed on issues and options related to coordination and advisory services that can support the establishment or expansion of ECEC services. The Board endorsed further work on options to address local needs.

Lastly, the Board discussed and endorsed progress on development of the Fund’s first strategic investment plan. This included endorsement of priority areas, the options analysis framework and the approach to an economic analysis of the plan.

Category:

  • Early childhood education

Topics:

  • Early Childhood Outcomes
  • Early childhood education
  • Early childhood educators
  • Early childhood providers
  • Early childhood teachers
  • General public
  • Parents and carers
  • Web page

Business Unit:

  • Early Childhood Outcomes
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