Business Capability Development Program

The Business Capability Development Program (BCDP) is a new initiative to boost the sustainability of small and standalone early childhood education and care (ECEC) providers in NSW, particularly in areas where local communities may already be facing access and affordability issues.

With an investment of $5.3 million from the Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund, the BCDP is being trialled in 3 priority areas of NSW – around Campbelltown, Dubbo and Coffs Harbour – in 2024-2026.

The BCDP trial will provide key staff at eligible ECEC services with up to 170 hours of tailored support in business leadership, capability development and management.

The program aims to reduce administration time, boost workforce satisfaction and increase business sustainability. Ultimately, it will give participating services more time to do what they do best – educating and caring for children.

The BCDP will be delivered in 2 stages from August 2024 to March 2026. Each stage will be undertaken in close collaboration with the program partner/s who will provide face-to-face, localised delivery that is customised to the needs of each service:

  1. Stage 1 – Discover and plan: business review and development of an action plan (up to 12 hours).
  2. Stage 2 – Implement: bespoke program of capability development activities to uplift service leadership and management skills, based on the action plan. Stage 2 includes support to embed practices and implement strategies for continued success after the program ends (up to 158 hours).

Participating services will be eligible for access payments of up to $13,650 per service to facilitate their participation in the program. Access payments can be used to backfill staff and/or supplement wage expenses for staff participating outside of work hours.


Applications to participate in the program are open to approved ECEC service providers with between 1 and 6 NSW services – including centre-based long day care or community preschool/s and/or mobile preschool/s – in one of the 3 priority 2021 Statistical Area Level 3 (‘SA3’ areas) as defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics:

(Note that public preschools, family day care services, outside school hours care services and Aboriginal community-controlled organisations which are supported by the Sector Strengthening Partnership are not eligible for the BCDP trial.)

If your service meets all the eligibility criteria and you are interested in participating in the BCDP, we encourage you to:

  • contact the NSW Department of Education to ask questions, find out more and connect with your local team who can support you to apply
  • submit your application via the SmartyGrants website.

Key dates

Activity Date
Applications open (apply now via SmartyGrants website) 29 April 2024
Online information session 8 May 2024
Applications close 24 May 2024
Application outcomes advised 2 August 2024
Stage 1 – needs and opportunities analysis August – September 2024
Stage 1 – action plan development September – November 2024
Stage 2 – full grant value outcome advised 31 January 2025
Stage 2 – capability development activities (including
exit strategy)
February 2025 – March 2026
Program ends March 2026
Post-program activities April – June 2026

Information session

Watch the recording of the information session to hear everything you need to know about the BCDP trial and how it might benefit your service.

Learn about the the BCDP and how this initiative will boost the sustainability of small and standalone ECEC providers.

MICHELLE MILNES: Super. I can see our numbers are starting to slowly creep up. I just want to take this opportunity to thank everybody very much for taking some time out of their day today. I know how busy a day can be in an early childhood education and care service. So thanks so much for joining us today to hear a little bit more about the Business Capability Development Program. It's a bit of a mouthful, so we just call it the BCDP. My name's Michelle Milnes. I am currently the relieving director for childcare fund delivery. So at the moment, I look after programs we're designing out of the Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund, and this is the third program that's a test and trial program that we're currently releasing out of the CEO Fund to better support affordable and accessible childcare for families and communities, and also to support the workforce who sit behind those services and provide education and care to children aged zero to 6.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank the entire team that have been supporting with the development of this program. They've been reaching out to services and conducting extensive research to make sure that the programs that we're designing are going to be fit for purpose and are really actually going to add benefit to early childhood education and care services across New South Wales. Before we begin, I'd like to acknowledge the traditional custodians from the lands in which we're all dialling in from today. I'm currently on Dharawal country, which as I understand it is also one of the trial areas in which we'll be supporting services through the BCDP. I'd also like to pay my respects to Elders past and present and also acknowledge any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people joining us from today. I'd also really like to take this opportunity to recognise that Aboriginal people have been nurturing and teaching children on this land for many, many decades, and we really honour and respect that role and hold very true to us the good work that we are seeking to do to support First Nations children and communities to access high-quality early childhood education and care.

Before we start talking about the program itself, just like to cover off on some housekeeping. The microphone, the video, and the chat functions are going to be disabled throughout this webinar. So if you have questions throughout, please use the Q&A function and we'll be able to take some of those questions either online if it's something that's going to be, it's I guess being asked repeatedly, we can share the answer to that through the webinar itself. Otherwise, I have a lovely team of humans in the background who will be able to answer any questions that you might have in the chat function. There are automated closed captions and they'll be enabled throughout the session for accessibility. The session's also going to be recorded, so if you have colleagues who you know might potentially be eligible for the program but they're not able to attend the webinar today, they will be able to access this recording at a later date. Thanks.

So in today's session, we'll be talking about the Business Capability Development Program itself and the key features within the program. We'll be talking through some example scenarios, so thinking really about how the BCDP might be able to be applied to your service, how you can apply for the program. And we'll also have time at the end for questions if you'd like to ask anything specific about the program, what it involves, how you apply, what your commitment might be, and how you can potentially participate. Thank you.

So in terms of the program, if we can just kick over to the next slide, we've come to design the Business Capability Development program because business viability really impacts the early childhood education and care sector. We know there's a range of different compounding issues that are, I guess impacting early childhood education and care at the moment, but one of them really comes down to business skills. So I'm often very transparent in these webinars. I am an early childhood teacher myself. I started in early childhood education and care as a trainee and did my Certificate III in a small, standalone long day care service before completing my early childhood degree and then being an early childhood teacher in preschools and long day care and then progressing on to be a director across a range of different services. So I do really have a firsthand understanding of what it's like to run and work in and teach and educate and do all of the amazing things that early childhood educators do on a daily basis in a range of different early childhood and education and care settings. So when we enter the early childhood education and care space, it really is about educating and caring for young children and as an adjunct, alongside that comes the difficulty, I guess, of running a business. So we know that business skills and knowledge gaps for early childhood educators can really exacerbate, I guess, the workforce shortages that we're facing right now in ECEC. It's often not what people feel that they've signed up for in early childhood education and care, but it forms a really important component for keeping early childhood education and care services running. The variety, I guess, in people's skills and knowledge is incredibly variable across the sector. Some people absolutely love it and have a real flare for running a service and other people do it because it's part of their daily job. Business support's often very difficult to come across for ECEC providers as well because it's a very specific model of business operations and it's different to running another small business and community preschool needs are going to be very different to what a long day care need might be. So this program's really seeking to address all of those compounding issues that are impacting the viability. So the way in which services are being run and their sustainability.

So their ability to operate across a long period of time to be able to continue to meet the needs of children and families in their local communities. We also really recognise that there is a really high administrative burden on services. It's not just, I guess around the running of the service itself, but again, additional administrative components as well. Thank you.

So what is the Business Capability Development Program? The program itself is focused on enhancing the viability and sustainability of early childhood education and care services through a tailored business leadership management and capability development program. It's a bit of a mouthful. So really this program is focused on the business components of running an early childhood education and care service. So when we talk about leadership and management, we often think, well, pedagogical leadership, educational leadership, this is really about service leadership and business operations. So here we're seeking to support early childhood education and care staff to increase the service viability and its ability to operate sustainably and into the future. We want to really support the workforce to improve their capability and their understanding around the ways in which we can operate a service sustainably to increase their satisfaction and their ability to attract and retain staff. And because this is a test and trial program for the Department of Education, we are looking to increase our own insights into the individual needs of services and identify any opportunities to strengthen sector viability into the future.

So as this is a test and trial program, we're focusing here on services that are run by smaller providers. So providers that operate up to a maximum of 6 services across the 3 statistical area 3 suburbs, regions of Campbelltown, Dubbo and Coffs Harbour. So I know that SA 3 doesn't really mean much to anybody, so it's not defined by a suburb or a geographical region, but it's a group of suburbs that have been grouped together by the Australian Bureau of Statistics to help us map data about places and communities and locations. So that's how we're defining the regions that we're currently looking at, at the moment. And the regions and the service types that we are looking at in this particular program were selected based on some research conducted and an assessment of service, service provider and population data to help us ensure the program was going to be accessible to the communities and services that have the greatest need and to enable the provision of on-the-ground support for participants from the department's Local Reform and Commissioning Team. And I'm hoping that people on the call today have had the opportunity to connect with some of their local reform and commissioning folk who we'll talk a little bit about later. So that's who it's for primarily. We're looking here for services that are interested in participating in a program that is going to support them to enhance their capability in those business leadership and management areas. We're also looking for services that might be experiencing some viability or sustainability issues. However, if you kind of join the call and think, oh, actually, we're doing okay, there's still plenty of opportunities to participate in the program because as I talk about a little bit later, there's lots of opportunities for business review and individual and tailored opportunities to better understand how your business could operate more sustainably or more viably. So when we're running this particular program, it's really exciting because it's an individual service level support program. So somebody, program partner, will be coming in to work with services to help them identify their needs. It's not the service next door, not the service down the road. It's really about individual service needs and helping to work collaboratively with services to identify the areas in which they could uplift their capability and capacity. Services will be provided with support, also to help prioritise their needs and to set goals for the future. And they'll then be assigned a tailored capability development package with tailored activities and timeframes to complete them.

So key features. The good things about this program, it's a small scale test and trial pilot. So we're using this program to build an evidence base about how services can be best supported to work sustainably and viably and uplift their capability in that business leadership domain. It's a very localised and tailored approach to program design with the LRC team providing on-the-ground support, reaching out to services and keeping in touch with them throughout the program's duration. So the running of the program itself will be across 2 stages and it will last approximately 20 months depending on what your capability development package looks like. So Stage 1 is standard for all services. That will look like a business review to help services identify their needs and priorities. So at Stage 1, we're looking for approximately 12 hours of commitment from services to better understand their individual needs, conduct a collaborative business review to unpack the areas in which services are really striving and areas in which services might require additional supports. Throughout that 12 hours as well, services will sit down with the program partner to identify their goals and to create what we're calling an action plan. So plan for action. What's going to happen across the remainder of the program to support the service itself to uplift its capability and its viability and its sustainability? So Stage 2, that'll commence in 2025 and that's where services will receive what we're calling their dosage and their package. So they better understand what capability areas they will be focusing on, what their activities might look like and what their timeline is going to look like as well. This is really individualised to meet the needs of each service. So it's certainly not going to be a one-size-fits-all approach. The capability areas for individual services will look different, as will the dosage depending on the need and the ability to commit to the program of individual services. The program itself also includes what we're calling an access payment component, which sounds kind of challenging to get your head around, but really it's a grant payment made to individual services which can be applied to backfilling staff to participate in training or paying overtime if training needs to be completed out of hours because that might work best for the service.

So I did mention our local LRC folk and these are the superstars that we have on the ground supporting the regions that are currently eligible to participate in the Business Capability Development Program. So in Coffs Harbour, we have Kerene and Krystal. In Campbelltown, we have Teagan, Roxie and Meagan. And in Dubbo, we have Lyndall and Tina. So I know our LLC staff have been making contact with services who might be potentially eligible to participate in the BCDP and have been providing them with links and touching base with services just to see or assess I guess sentiment, see how people are feeling about the program, whether or not it might be a good fit for their service at this point in time and just generally, maintaining contact. And they will continue to maintain contact throughout the duration of the program if your service chooses to participate in the BCDP trial.

So as an overview of the program itself, there are a range of different possible capability focus areas and you might see some of these areas listed in the application form when you're thinking about, well, which of these areas are really going to be applicable to my service? So the areas in which we're currently looking to offer capability uplift to individual services are governance processes and oversight. So that might look like supporting services to better understand how they onboard their volunteer board members and how they sustain those operations over time, noting that community preschools can often have volunteer parent committees turning over quite frequently and having to induct new members on an ongoing basis. It could look like community, family and staff engagement. So this would look like internal and external relationship management, conflict management and resolution, support with cultural competency. If your service happens to be located in an area where there are high levels of, or I guess high incidences of families from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds or families from First Nations backgrounds that you really want to be able to connect with on a deep and meaningful level, as well as sustaining and embedding practises of excellence in terms of relationship management and building.

Change management is also an area that services can receive support with. We know that we're working in the early childhood education and care sector, which feels like it's changing rapidly and we are hoping to equip services with strategies to be able to cope with change. So that might look like change management policies, implementing and communicating change to families or to staff members where you're making operational changes. It's really going to be tailored to individual services regarding what their needs might be. Staff management's another area that you can receive support in. So recruitment, staff induction, rostering, policies around staff management, I guess sustaining wellbeing and those sorts of things that relate to the ECEC workforce administration processes. So record keeping, reporting, policies, procedures, digitalising all of those things if you're still working on a paper-based system. Processes and procedures for operational management, things like work health and safety, property and asset management, financial management, and the management of information technology and digital platforms. So this could look like support with risk management strategies, support with budgeting, and embedding ongoing budgeting practises into your service to ensure that you're operating sustainably and viably. We can also support with strategy and business planning, so helping you with project management, disaster management planning and anything associated I guess with the strategic investment into your service and considerations for future. There's also the opportunity for services to tell us about what they think their service viability and sustainability needs might be. And we can certainly take that into account when we're looking at the areas of uplift we can offer to individual services.

So unpacking in a little bit more detail the program stages and what those access payments look like. So that 12 hours of upfront Stage 1 collaborative business review will look like a program partner coming into individual services to run what we're calling a gaps needs and opportunities analysis. So what that looks like is where are there gaps in your operational management? Where are your immediate needs, both from what the program partner might be identifying through conversations with yourself or areas that you've identified yourself, and where might the opportunities to strengthen your operations lie? From there, that'll be analysed and there will be supporting individual services to create their action plan. So that goal setting and allocating a dosage, that's 12 hours upfront. Stage 2, that capability development activity, that's where we get into the guts of the program itself and we have a training panel on board who will be delivering activities to uplift ECEC service capability and support you to embed those strength and practises throughout the program. So we're really looking at this program as not being a set and forget. We're not coming in providing professional learning activities and then saying, kind of, see you later. There is a significant part of the program that looks like supporting services to embed and sustain the practises that they've learned throughout the professional learning to ensure that when the program concludes, services feel very confident and capable to carry on the learnings that they have picked up throughout the program to help them sustain their service into the future. So those individual capability development activities, again, they're going to look different for different services, different regions, different service types, depending on what your capability needs might be. But we will have a panel of training providers available with expertise in the capability areas that you've identified as being of the greatest need for your service and they'll be connecting with you to put together a training package and deliver that to your service in a way that's going to meet your needs. So that could look like a range of different activities. It could be digital online learning, it could be webinars, it could be actually sitting down with a program partner and working through strategies yourselves. It's going to be individualised and we are really hoping that services are going to be thinking about how this could best work for them. Whether it's going to be that face-to-face, whether it's going to be online, whether it's in the daytime, whether it's later in the day, we're really trying here with this program to make sure it's going to suit the individual needs of services.

Now the intensity and the type of activities that are delivered in the BCDP are going to vary. So again, when we're looking at services that are participating, please don't look at other services and say, how come you're doing X? We're really working to support services to identify the areas that are going to be of greatest value to them and also their greatest need. So hours and dosage, we're calling it, will be allocated depending on service need in terms of like intensity. So the access payments to services, we've designed that component of the program to remove the barriers to participation to support services to be able to participate. We know it's difficult to get time off the floor, the opportunity to attend professional learning. We really want to recognise that in the early childhood education and care sector right now. So the access payments are designed to be able to supplement the cost of backfilling staff if you have to get casual staff in to be able to cover your participation in the program or to supplement the wage if we are having to attend training after hours. So that would look like a maximum of $13,650 in access or grant payments per service to facilitate participation in up to 170 hours of program activities. So that's inclusive of those 12 hours upfront as part of the collaborative gaps needs and opportunities analysis and the goal setting. If we're looking at 170 hours, that'd be quite intensive dosage because the service might have very significant needs. Again, that's the maximum participation or commitment required from services to participate in this particular program. It could be as low as, you know, somewhere in that 40-hour region if services have quite light touch needs and need some support to embed some sustainable practises into their everyday operations. So the total estimated grant available to services is 822. So that's a combined pool, but individual service level, maximum of $13,650.

So the timeline for the BCDP. Applications are open. Please apply if you think that your service might be eligible or would benefit from the BCDP. Applications are open now on SmartyGrants and applications close on the 24th of May. We're hoping to advise application outcomes by the 2nd of August to be able to commence with Stage 1, that gaps, needs and opportunities analysis and collaborative business review. And that'll be commencing late August to early September. And action plans and goal setting will be complete by November, 2024. That'll allow us some time to think about and consider dosage and a program package that will suit the individual needs of services. So Stage 2, we're looking for the full grant value outcome to be shared with services by the end of January so that services will better understand what's available to them for the duration of 2025 to help them with their forward planning, noting that January-February can be a very, very busy time in early childhood education and care. So participation in activities will commence in February and depending on the intensity and the dosage of individual packages will run through to March, 2026. That will also include that exit strategy period that I was talking about a little bit earlier where we're looking at supporting the service to embed practises and the program partner will still be coming in and just seeing how things are going, how processes are being embedded to ensure that the learnings are being applied sustainably in the service as well. program will conclude in March, 2026, and post-program activities, including evaluations of the program. So opportunities to tell us how we've done will occur from April to June, 2026. Sounds a very, very long way away.

So example scenarios. We put together a range of example scenarios that are available on the Department of Education website. If you've not had the opportunity to have a look at those there, happy to run through those now as part of the webinar also. So in scenario one, we're looking at a community-based preschool that has governance processes and oversight as their capability uplift area.

So in this scenario, we've got a 2-unit preschool or a 2-room service depending on how you refer to your service makeup that's located in a trial location and they've been advised to join the test and trial program after discussing eligibility requirements, the benefits and the outcomes with their local reform and commissioning team representative. So the Sunnyville's nominated supervisor has completed a successful application for Stage 1 and will be participating in the program, outlining their challenges, what their goals might be from participating in the program and identifying any opportunities for change that are in line with our program objectives. So again, our program objectives for BCDP are really focused on the business operation of an early childhood education and care service. It's not about educational leadership, it's really about that business leadership and management. So once that application's been approved, the Sunnyville Community Preschool receives that upfront Stage 1 12 hours worth of access payments to support staff engagement in the Stage 1 activities and they're going to use the funds there to backfill the costs. So they've obviously decided that they are going to engage a casual staff member to release a nominated supervisor or an early childhood teacher or an administrative person to participate in that gaps needs opportunities, analysis and collaborative business review as well as start to set goals and plan for action.

So as part of this scenario, the Sunnyville Preschool team will collaborate with their program partners to complete that gaps needs and opportunities. They've decided to share their governance, their administration, their communication, staff management, operational and business strategies with the program partners so that they've got some visibility over the way the service is being run and can support that service to better understand their business strengths and areas and opportunities for development. So insights from that process support the service to develop a joint action plan. So the program partner and the service provider or nominated supervisor, whoever the people are who are participating in the program will work together to create an action plan. It's not something that's going to be given to the service, we're really looking for this to be a collaborative process. The particular plan for this service is going to focus on enhancing governance through compliance, business management, stakeholder engagement, and uplifted financial practises.

So from here, Sunnyville progressed to Stage 2 at the beginning of 2025 and they've actually been allocated 70 hours of capability development activities and corresponding access payments. So how that service choose to use their access payments is really up to them because they will have collaborated with their program partner and their training panel to better understand the makeup of their service and the training needs that they are going to need, sorry, the training needs and activities the service is going to need to participate in. So key staff here are engaged in webinars and tailored sessions with the program partner to help them to develop governance structures that are going to work for their service. It's not going to be an off-the-shelf governance structure. We were looking at the training panels to provide individualised and tailored support to preschools, long day care services, and in this case Sunnyville Preschool. The preschool also engages in in-person training and online support to help them better understand their compliance issues and how they can implement compliance-based policies and practises. They also participate in reflective practise workshops with other services that are participating in the Business Capability Development Program so that they can share their experiences and learn from other participating services how they're embedding the practises that they're learning from the program partner into their daily operations. The service is also supported to refine their policies and procedures to make sure that they're in line with service needs with support from the program partner or the training panel. So the outcome of Sunnyville's participation in BCDP after having 70 hours of capability uplift activities allocated to them, they have strengthened their management capabilities, which is supporting them to effectively manage their resources and work towards the goals that they've identified for themselves. They've established a new government's framework which supports their ongoing success in that particular area of community preschool operation and clear roles and escalation processes have helped to improve staff accountability and operations throughout the day. Improved operations have boosted staff wellbeing and community engagement and has resulted in a good outcome for Sunnyville Community Preschool.

So scenario 2 focuses a little bit more on administrative processes and practises and looks at a long day care service that's located again in a BCDP trial location and their approved provider has 5 long day care services. So the service is potentially eligible to participate in the test and trial program and they've been invited to apply after they have been contacted by their local, friendly, LRC rep. The LRC provide a walkthrough of the eligibility criteria for the program. They talked a little bit about the benefits for that particular service of participating in the program and that programs had the opportunity to ask questions about what that might look like for their particular service. So the nominated supervisor is endorsed by the approved provider to submit a successful application for program participation and has outlined what they think their challenges are in terms of operating their standalone-ish long day care service, their goals and their opportunities for alignment with the BCDP program objectives.

So Seaside again begins that Stage 1 with their funding agreement in place and 12 hours of access payments to support their participation in the program. They engage in that collaborative business review with the program partner and that provides insights into their governance, administration, communication, operational strategies in a similar way to what we've looked at with the community-based preschool. Their action plan for this particular long day care centre, however, identifies opportunities to uplift the service's administrative processes. So this service then progresses to Stage 2 and they've been allocated the dosage of 20 hours of capability development activities with a focus just on improving their administrative processes and practises. So they'll receive 20 hours of access payments throughout the duration of the program to support staff members to participate in the BCDP training activities. So in this scenario, the service decides, the nominated supervisor will be attending those , sorry, reflective practise workshops on record management and policy creation gained some insights into best practise in terms of administrative functions. The team at the service level is supported to transition to a digital platform for record management, for efficiency. Capability development activities here in this scenario enables the service to create process documents and upskill all staff around how to move through those administrative processes that are at the service level. The program partner also assist the service itself in transitioning over to that digital platform from a paper-based platform. So here, we're looking at quite a low level dosage because they might have had their processes in place but they really need support around transitioning to a digital implementation platform. So throughout their participation in that 20 hours have strengthened their knowledge and capabilities. They have embedded their improved administrative practises in their day-to-day operations and the implementation of a digital platform for their administrative functions streamlined their daily administrative tasks. Tasks are able to be completed more efficiently and more accurately with documents more readily available to staff. And given that staff have had that opportunity to look at process documents and process flows are better able to understand the administrative processes of the service itself. A decrease in, I guess the administrative burden here on the service boosts staff wellbeing and improves their service efficiency.

So I know people sort of saying, well, what could it look like for me? I think it really depends. It really depends on your service type, what you feel your service is able to commit to, and where you've identified your capability uplift areas to be for your individual service. In terms of what commitment is required from services, it is that 12 hours of upfront in Stage 1 to work alongside the program partner. And this might not look like 12 hours of sitting down with a program partner. It might look like 4 or 5 hours with a program partner to complete a gaps, needs and opportunities analysis, some supplemented time to be considering and reflecting on that gaps, needs and opportunities, thinking about goal setting and then coming back together with the program partner towards the end of that period of time to create an action plan for Stage 2. It's that Stage 2 commitment that it's really determined on the level of need of individual services. So as a service with quite intensive need, as I mentioned, it could look like up to 153 hours, roughly. If I can't do my maths, I probably can't. The total package is 170 hours. I need to have some lunch. But that's for a service who has very intense capability uplift needs. Now if a service says upfront, "Actually, we can't commit to 170 hours of training," we're going to focus on our top three areas, then that's certainly something that I think we can to negotiate throughout the duration of the program. And again, when we're saying 170 hours, it's that maximum allocation that might not look like 170 hours of face-to-face. It might look like webinars, it might look like attending reflective practise workshops with local services in your area that are participating in the Business Capability Development Program to share learnings about how it's going, tips and tricks that they might have learned from their training, how they're embedding those things into their service day-to-day practise. It could look like professional reading, it could look like a program partner or a training panel coming into the service and actually sitting with staff to better understand their operations and the ways in which they could uplift their business capability. What I'll be asked to do, hopefully I've covered up on that. One thing that services are going to be asked to do is just to record the time that they've participated in the program in terms of their commitment. So particularly in that upfront 12 hours, we're just looking for services to be able to complete a time sheet to tell us that yes, we've participated in 12 hours of capability uplift training and what we'll be asking services to do in Stage 2, again, it's going to look very different for individual services. So those individual agreements will be negotiated with services at the service level and services will be supported in a range of different ways. So I know it sounds very much like it's a very tailored program, and it is. It's got clear parameters around it, but it also has very clear supports. So services would be allocated to a program partner in that upfront Stage 1 part of the program. Then they'll be allocated to a either a training provider or a panel of training providers depending on their level of need, the diversity of the capability uplift areas that they require support in, and the activities that they need to engage in because we really want to make sure that we are able to support services on the ground with experts who've got real expertise at the particular capability uplift areas that services identify for themselves alongside that program partner as part of the gaps, needs and opportunities in Stage 1. We'll also have our LRC folk on the ground, as well reaching out to connective services throughout the duration of the program just to see how things are going and facilitate that relationship, ensure things are working well for services and for program partners and training panels.

Hopefully that gives a good summary for everybody on what it could look like. Again, it is a tailored and individual program for eligible services who are participating in the program. Given it's a test and trial program, it is very tailored so that we can get those insights from the sector, from yourselves. It's a really great opportunity to be involved in shaping program development and supports for ECEC services in the future. So applying for the program itself.

Before you start your application, read the guidelines, read the guidelines, and read the guidelines again. I know they can be long, but it's important just to check and see that you definitely are eligible in terms of your service type and your location and it's quite upfront around the requirements of the program. So it's really important that services understand the 2 key assessment criteria. And I know this sounds quite challenging, is a comparative assessment of capability uplift needs in key areas of the self-assessment information. So services are going to be asked to reflect and self-assess their level of need across a range of capability uplift areas. So we on the backend will be having a look at that assessment and just seeing where services are falling in terms of their level of need and their capability uplift areas that they've identified. If required, weighting considerations. So in terms of entry of the program might include a priority location, a service, a provider, or population data within a defined region. At this point in time, we have actually set that criteria. We've picked our locations, we've picked our priority services. So a lot of that information is already captured in the application form itself. And if you're located in those SA 3 regions and you're one of the eligible service types, being a long day care or a community-based preschool and you are operated by an approved provider with less than 6 services, then it is likely you will be eligible to participate in the Business Capability Development Program. But again, please do check the guidelines. The other great place to have a look is the frequently asked questions, which is located on our website.

If you need help with your application, there is a SmartyGrants online application system for this particular program. The details of SmartyGrants, if you think it is a platform era or you're having difficulty navigating the SmartyGrants platform, please contact the SmartyGrants support desk. Number's on the screen there and the email is available to you. Also, if you've got general inquiries post this session, you've gone away, you've digested the information, you're not really sure about how to apply to the program itself or you just need to better understand what it could look like for your individual service because you've got really pressing questions about your individual service and you want to know how we can commit to the program, best thing to do is just to submit a general inquiry to ECEC funding and somebody will get back to you in response to your inquiry. As I understand it, the LRC team have also been reaching out to potentially eligible services. So hopefully services who are potentially eligible to apply have had the opportunity to ask questions of them also.

Great. Questions. Just having a quick look in the backend chat, see if there are questions that I can answer services online. If there are questions I need to take on notice, we will certainly endeavour to publish any of the questions that are being responded to on today's webinar in the backend and also verbally throughout the presentation. We'll uploading those to our frequently asked questions on our website as well, so services can access answers to questions from there. So I'm having a look at the questions that are popping up in the chat in the background. One of the questions that's been asked here is, "How much are we expected to identify to apply? It's coming across that we need to identify one or more of the focus areas, but then once in the program we'll spend 12 hours with our local person to identify levels of need. What if we don't exactly know the direction it will take before Stage 1?" I think that's okay. When services log into the application form, it'll have a range of those capability areas listed for you to think about and reflect on in terms of where you think your needs might lie, where your confidence might lie, or where you think those particular capability areas might be impacting your ability to deliver a service. So the application form itself will help you to consider and start reflecting on your business capability development areas of need, but also your areas of strength. If there's only one area within that, um, capability uplift series of, um, areas, sorry, that's three ums in a row, that's okay because the service, sorry, the program partner will come out to talk to you about the responses that you've popped into your application form as part of that self-assessment and help you to work through and assess those answers against what they're able to see from your business operations. They'll also be able to, I guess, elicit deeper conversations with you around your capability uplift requirements, strengths, gaps, needs and opportunities.

So in terms of the program partners, there've been a couple of questions in the background around the providers and whether or not they will have ECEC sector knowledge. This is a requirement as a program partner or a training panel provider. It's certainly an area that we are assessing applications to participate from a program partner, a training panel perspective. We have a team at the Department of Education that are currently assessing eligibility of program partners to deliver services to ECEC services and their ability to understand and connect with the ECEC sector is absolutely paramount. Just having a look to see if there are any other questions.

I think there's a question here in the backend around doing the needs analysis but not the whole program. We're really looking for services to participate in that gaps needs and opportunities upfront to better understand what their needs and capability areas might be at a later stage in the program. So I'd really like services if they're applying for the program to be considering participating in both stages because the gaps, needs and opportunities is just going to highlight for the service areas in which they could strengthen their practises. If it is challenging to commit to, say a huge battery of supports in Stage 2, I think there's some flexibility around what we might be able to offer the services. So if we're saying 170 hours is way too much, but the commitment that we're looking for is particularly one capability area, then I believe there'll be some flexibility in there for services as well.

A lot of other popular questions, "Is it only for director's nominated supervisors, staff?" That again is up to the service to choose who they would like to participate. So for example, if administrative processes is the area of capability focus that your individual service requires support in, then perhaps your administrative person might be the best person to participate in training. If it's governance processes, then perhaps it is the director and potentially one of the parent volunteers that sits on your parent governance board. It's really up to services to decide who participates in the program to add the most value to individual services. But I'd really encourage services to consider when they're looking at their capability uplift needs, who's going to be best to participate, who's likely to be able to commit to participating throughout the duration of the program and if people are moving in and out of the participation stages that there'll be opportunities to share the learnings and embed those practises either through staff meetings or kind of hands-on learning opportunities for your staff and your service as well. So it's not just one person as the key knowledge holder to ensure that that the program is able to be successful throughout. Popping. I'm just having a look at one of the questions. Sorry, I'm multitasking.

"So it sounds like program partners are third parties?" Absolutely. Program partners are third parties. So we are contracting program partners and a training panel to be able to provide capability uplift activities to services. We're looking at organisations that can be either on the ground or that have good sector knowledge and community knowledge that can support the individual needs of services across the trial regions that we're seeking to support as part of the Business Capability Development program.

"So will program partners have relationships with key external inputs training providers online?" Yeah, absolutely. They will have relationship with training providers and online processes. That's certainly something that we're assessing these training panel providers in terms of their ability to deliver training in a flexible way that meets the individual needs of services that is highly relevant to the early childhood education and care sector.

"What processes might be in place to manage situations where program partners and services might not have a great relationship for whatever reason?" That is a really good question. We have got a complaints handling policy as part of the Department of Education. We will also have really regular touch points with our LRC staff and on the backend in terms of our program implementation team will also have a very strong relationship with the program partners. So we are looking to really seek feedback from the sector in terms of what's, what I'm saying, sector participating services around, firstly, what their capability uplift areas might be. We're looking to assess the suitability of these program partners from a department perspective and we have an evaluation panel that has got experience in early childhood education care, has got representatives from the Aboriginal Engagement and Education Team and people who have got on-the-ground experience in terms of ECEC. So we're looking to establish a panel that really does have a good relationship with the sector, can deliver in terms of capability uplift activities and is able to maintain relationships which, you know, as we know, relationship's key in early childhood education and care and it's certainly at the front of mind with delivery of this particular program. I think that is all the questions I can see in the background, Vaida, unless there's any that I am missing?

VAIDA SHAW: Nope, that was it. You've covered everything. Thank you so much.

MICHELLE MILNES: Super. Thank you. Well look, I really would like to, again, take the opportunity to thank you for taking almost an hour out of your day today to hear about the Business Capability Development Program. We're really excited to roll out this initiative. It's really different to any of the programs that we've rolled out previously in the department and we're really seeking to support the sector and its workforce to operate their businesses sustainably and viably and to continue to do the good work that you're doing already in terms of educating and caring for young children and supporting their families and communities.

VAIDA SHAW: Thanks so much. Have a great afternoon everyone.

MICHELLE MILNES: Enjoy your day. Thanks so much.


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