Frequently asked questions

General questions

The program will be delivered by contracted external program partners who will support services through 2 program stages.

The 2 stages are

  • Stage 1: Discover and plan – collaborative business review and development of an action plan. (August – November 2024)
  • Stage 2: Implement – participants engage in varying levels and types of capability development activities to uplift skills and are supported by an allocated program partner to embed practices and implement strategies for sustainability after the program ends. (February 2025 – March 2026)

Development activities will focus on enhancing service and staff capabilities to strengthen business leadership and management. The program activities include but are not limited to:

  • governance processes and oversight
  • community, family, and staff engagement
  • change management
  • staff management
  • administration processes  
  • processes and procedures for operational management and risk management,
  • processes and procedures for work health and safety,
  • processes and procedures for property and asset management,
  • processes and procedures for financial management
  • information technology use and processes
  • strategy/business planning
  • other capability development areas services may need to support business viability to sustain and grow operations to meet the needs of the community.

The time required to participate in the Business Capability Development Program is dependent on the level of support a service is deemed eligible for. If a service is assessed as requiring a higher level of support, then more time will be required to be devoted to the program and its activities to achieve intended outcomes.

Participants and allocated program partner/s will co-design action plans centred around service-level needs and opportunities identified during their business review.

The Campbelltown, Coffs Harbour and Dubbo SA3 areas were chosen using a 3-step assessment process to identify and target locations where the Business Capability Development Program – which is a test and trial program – would have the greatest impact.

Based on an assessment of service, service provider and population data, these areas represent priority cohorts and have been selected to ensure the program is accessible to communities and services with the greatest need.

Factors that were considered in the assessment of potential locations included:

  • Demand-supply ratio (DSR)
  • % small providers
  • Labour force participation for mothers of children aged 0-4 years
  • 2021 Socio-Economic Indexes for Area (SEIFA) decile
  • % Indigenous population
  • % born in Australia
  • % English as first language

Yes, because eligible participants may receive grant funding in the form of access payments to support participation in the program.

More information on access payments and the assessment process for participation is provided in the program guidelines.


The types of services that can participate in the Business Capability Development Program are the following approved service types operating in NSW:   

  • a centre-based service (education and care for children up to school age) including:
    • long day care services
    • community preschools
    • mobile preschools

These services must be operated by a NSW approved provider, operating up to 6 services in total.

Where an approved provider operates 6 or fewer services in identified trial program locations, each service must complete an individual application and self-assessment to participate in the program. Each service will be assessed for eligibility and level of capability supports will be determined based on individual service need.

The service or provider can apply. An applicant service must have endorsement from their approved provider. Each service will be assessed against their relative need - so services owned by the same provider may end up with different levels of support and different areas of capability uplift.

The trial program has initially been designed to support centre-based services including long day care and community preschools as well as mobile preschools.

In deciding the targeted service types, the below factors were considered:

  • age of children in care
  • regulatory requirements
  • sector growth patterns
  • distribution of service types across regions
  • barriers to sustainability
  • unique business support needs of different service types
  • funding streams

One of the core objectives of the Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund is to complement, rather than duplicate, funded initiatives. Recipients of the CCCF grant may be eligible to receive free business support delivered through business advisors to help services review and improve their financial viability and sustainability – noting that to be eligible for business support, the service must be a recipient of one of the following CCCF grants:

  • special circumstances
  • disadvantaged and vulnerable communities
  • restricted services.

The Sector Strengthening Partnership support includes tailored capacity building, workforce planning and development for Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) to contribute to key priorities under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.

However, ACCOs that meet the program eligibility requirements and that are not currently participating in or receiving supports from the Sector Strengthening Program are eligible to apply to participate in the Business Capability Development Program.

For enquiries about the SNAICC Sector Strengthening Partnership, please contact:

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ECEC team
1800 619 113

The Business Capability Development Program aims to increase ECEC service business viability and sustainability. It is not an individual professional development program. The program’s assessment process, informed by the participant’s identified needs and capability development opportunities, determines the number of hours of support to be provided and associated access payment amounts. The access payment supplements the cost and time associated with service participation in program activities.

A service is only eligible for this program if they are run by a NSW ECEC provider with between 1 and 6 services.

Applications and self-assessment

The application form and self-assessment must be completed by an authorised officer from the applicant service organisation who confirms the accuracy of the application’s content. The term ‘authorised officer’ refers to

  • the person with management or control or nominated supervisor, as per the service record in the National Quality Agenda IT System (NQAITS) and/or
  • the primary contact or person with management or control, as per the provider record in NQAITS.

No. Services wishing to participate in the program are required to complete the application and self-assessment through SmartyGrants.

For SmartyGrants system related questions or issues, please contact:

Smarty Grants Support Desk
03 3920 6888 between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday

No. A service self-assessment is a requirement of the application process.

No. Provider endorsement is a requirement to participate in the Business Capability Development Program.

The Business Capability Development Program has a targeted competitive assessment process. To be considered, applicants need to meet and demonstrate eligibility requirements in their application and, in addition, complete a self-assessment.

If the number of applications is greater than the number of budgeted places in the program, eligible applications will then progress to Stage 1 assessment.

More information is provided in Stage 1 Assessment criteria of the program guidelines.

Following satisfactory completion of Stage 1 of the program, existing participants who wish to continue into Stage 2 will be evaluated by the assessment panel to determine the extent (as an allocation of hours) and types of capability development activities. For more information see Stage 2 - Assessment to determine program activities and funding in the program guidelines.

The business review (part of Stage 1) will be used as the basis for a creation of a co-designed action plan to maximise support for the participating service tailored to their needs. Based on a service’s context, available resources and comparative merit and need, services will be supported through:

  • capability development activities to upskill staff in identified priority areas
  • embedding skills and processes within a service and team
  • implementing a sustainable exit strategy from the program.

Please contact the Early Childhood Education Information Enquiries team on 1800 619 113 or This team can put you in contact with your Local Reform and Commissioning (LRC) representative. LRC can provide assistance with understanding the program guidelines, eligibility criteria and other program queries.

For assistance with the online application system, please contact the SmartyGrants Support Desk on 03 3920 6888 between 9 am and 5 pm, Monday to Friday or via  

After reading through the program guidelines, it is estimated the application form will take 30 minutes to complete.

The program partner is currently being selected through the NSW Department of Education procurement process which includes an application and suitability assessment process. The process will not be completed by the time applications close.

Individual applications for the BCDP are required for each eligible ECEC service. Each service application must also be approved by the provider. Your Local Reform Commissioning representative can support you to navigate the application process.

Program participation

If a service wishes to withdraw from the program prior to commencement of Stage 1, they can withdraw their application through SmartyGrants (up to 24 May 2024) or email if applications have closed (on or after 25 May 2024).

The program has been designed to be flexible to accommodate individual service needs and circumstances. If a service is considering a change to their participation, they should first speak with the program partner assigned to their service and escalate concerns to the department if needed. Any changes to participation throughout the program will result in variations to individual funding agreements.

A participating service must notify the ECEC funding team – by email to – of any changes to the service that may impact their service eligibility. Notifiable changes include – but are not limited to – changes to service type, location, or approval status and transfer of service provider.

The ECEC funding team will then contact the service to provide next steps relating to program participation.

The program has been designed to be flexible to accommodate individual service needs and circumstances. If a service is considering a change to their participation, they should first speak with the program partner assigned to their service and escalate concerns to the department if needed. Any changes to participation throughout the program will result in variations to individual funding agreements. The Funding Agreement will detail obligations in relation to the return of unused funds.

Potential program partners are required to demonstrate knowledge of and experience in the ECEC sector as part of the tender process.

The program is designed to be delivered in 2 stages to have the best impact for services. The department is encouraging services that are applying for the program to consider their ability to participate in both stages. The Stage 1 Gaps, needs and opportunities analysis is going to highlight for the service areas in which they could strengthen their practises. Stage 2 offers professional learning to uplift business capability.

The delivery cost of all capability uplift and development activities allocated to participating services will be covered by the Department of Education on behalf of the Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund.

The recording will be available on the website in the next week and we will email a link to all registrants once it is available.

When services complete an online application, they will be required to reflect on each of the program’s designated capability areas to understand their strengths and confidence regarding each capability area.
Once the program has commenced, the program partner will then meet with you to discuss responses in your application forms as part of your self-assessment and, with you, decide the capability uplift requirements, strengths, gaps, needs and opportunities for your service.

The department is contracting organisations that can support services on the ground and that have good sector and community knowledge. This is important to ensure they understand the individual needs of services across the trial regions that we're seeking to support as part of the program.

This is something the department is assessing. The training panel providers will need to be flexible in terms of their ability to deliver training to meet the individual needs of services and in ensuring that the training provided is highly relevant to the ECEC sector.

The Department of Education has a complaints handling policy which outlines the processes for making a complaint. The department will also have regular touch points with participating services through the Local Reform and Commissioning team. The Business Capability Development Program implementation team will have regular discussions with the program partner.

Access payments

Access payments and supporting documentation is only available via ECCMS. Program participants who are not currently registered with ECCMS will receive an email from the funding team outlining the process and procedure for registering with ECCMS.

The access payment is a flat-fee hourly rate to supplement participation, based on the Early Childhood Teacher minimum casual award rate as outlined by the Fair Work Ombudsman. The numbers of hours available are:

  • Stage 1 - 12 hours
  • Stage 2 - up to a maximum of 158 hours

No. Participating services will be allocated their hours of support and capability development activities through the assessment process. Access payments are intended to support staff participation in their allocated uplift activities. In the event where a service chooses to allocate additional resources to program related activities, this would need to be funded by the service and agreed with the program partner.

Yes. Participants will be required to acquit the expenditure of funds in accordance with their specific funding agreement. A simple financial expenditure declaration form will be provided where services can briefly outline their use of funds.

No. The access payment is only to support service participation in capability development activities delivered by program partner/s.

No, all successful services will be eligible for 12 hours of access payments to participate in Stage 1 activities.

As part of the acquittals and monitoring process a small number of services may be audited with regard to the use of access payments. This process will be proportionate to the size and risk of the grant and will be outlined as part of the funding agreement. This could involve providing documentation to support expenditure claims and/or providing attendance logs to the service/program partner to confirm activity participation.

Stage 1

Providing and discussing information about a service is imperative to identify your business capability needs and identify opportunities to strengthen your business leadership and management as part of Stage 1.

Information and data collected through the application form and self-assessment – and during participation – will be used by the NSW Department of Education and the Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund Board for the purposes of assessing your application, procuring suitable program partner/s, designing program activities, and ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the program. All collected data will be stored securely and confidentially. Access to participant data will be strictly limited to authorised personnel involved in the program. Measures will be in place to protect the anonymity and confidentiality of participants.

Stage 2

Hours of support and capability development activities are informed by multiple factors outlined in Stage 2: Implement in the program guidelines. Recommendations are made by the Stage 1 program partners which will be reviewed and endorsed by the assessment panel.

Program partners will be selected via an open tender process and assessed against criteria determining their suitability to deliver capability uplift activities to ECEC services. Participants and program partner/s for Stage 1 will co-design an action plan centred around the service level opportunities identified during their business review. Service preferences outlined in the service action plan will be considered as part of the assessment for Stage 2.

The program encourages participation from staff and volunteers in a range of roles in the participating service. This may include approved providers, service workforce, support and administrative staff.

Capability development activities and funding amounts are determined through the Stage 2 assessment, which will include consideration of participants’ individual service needs and constraints.

There are several considerations in determining the capability development activities that a service is approved to participate in. These are outlined in Stage 2 – Assessment to determine program activities and funding in the program guidelines.

If a service has questions or concerns about their participation, they are encouraged to contact the department.


Early Childhood Education Information Enquiries
1800 619 113

The program design includes a sustainable transition period at the completion of capability development uplift activities. Where a service has support needs outside of the program, they may be referred to complementary programs.

Yes. As part of their participation in the program a service must engage in the post program health check. This will assist in the evaluation of the program by collecting and documenting insights about the program, including but not limited to the impact of the program during and after participation, sustain learnings and continued independent progress. The information will also inform future enhancements of the program and support continuous improvement within the service.


  • Early childhood education

Business Unit:

  • Early Childhood Outcomes
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