Frequently asked questions

A capital works grant in this context is an agreed amount of funding that is provided for the delivery of the agreed capital works project. The grant is provided by the NSW Department of Education to the applicant. The Start Strong Capital Works Grants Program provides eligible entities grant funding to create new community preschool places through the delivery of capital works projects in areas of need and growing demand.

Decisions to apply for a capital works grant rest with the applicant organisation. Any decision to apply for a capital works grant should first be discussed and agreed to at your governing body (board or management committee) meeting. Important things to consider include:

  • Are you currently operating or intending to operate a centre based community preschool service?
  • Does your organisation and proposed service meet the eligibility requirements?
  • Is there a definite priority and intention to create new or increase current preschool places?
  • Has an increase in preschool places been considered in your business planning?
  • Is there an evidence base for need and growing demand for preschool places in your service and/or the community?
  • Is your organisation committed to managing a capital works project (or contracting this to an expert) should you be awarded a grant?
  • Is your organisation in a position to manage the grant award and construction process?

A capital works grant may provide you with the opportunity to undertake new building works to a proposed site, extend or renovate existing premises or purchase a vehicle for a currently operating mobile preschool.  For more information please refer to the program guidelines.

It is up to applicants to determine whether they meet the eligibility requirements of a grant. Eligibility requirements are outlined in the program guidelines

The purpose of the Capital Works Grants Program is to increase preschool places in areas of need and growing demand through the delivery of capital works projects. The intention of the program is to increase children’s access to quality early childhood education. Organisations intending to apply should carefully assess their capacity to increase preschool places. An increase in preschool places is considered as part of the assessment process for grant applications.

Successful grant applicants will be accountable for increasing preschool places following the project completion, in accordance with their capital works grant funding terms and conditions.  Specific criteria applies to Category 5-Crisis situation. Applicants approved under Category 5-Crisis situation need to demonstrate a commitment to maintaining or increasing preschool places. It is important however that all applicants including those applying under Category 5-Crisis situation, aim to achieve a net increase in approved preschool places wherever possible. For examples of crisis situations in this context, please refer to the program guidelines.

The Department strongly encourages interested services to first read the program guidelines before they start the application process. The application guide has been developed to assist applicants and provides examples to specific questions and sections of the application process. It also provides examples of the types of documents applicants may submit with their application.

In previous grant rounds, some applicants have sourced support from representatives of their governing body (preschool’s management committee or board) to complete their applications for capital works grant funding.

A further benefit to applicants is the application submission time period of 9 weeks during which applications can be submitted. This time period should be used to discuss, plan and organise application requirements for the relevant category of the proposed capital works project.

A glossary of commonly used terms has been included in the 2020 capital works grants round to assist applicants in understanding program-specific terminology. The glossary is located at the end of the application guide. If you still need help, you may contact the Capital Works team on or via telephone on 1300 755 426.

Need and demand refers to the current shortage in preschool places, the current supply of available preschool places and the projection of future demand for preschool places. The Department will also conduct its own data analysis on need and growing demand that takes into account a range of indicators and data sources.

To support your answer to this application question, you may choose to submit supporting documentation that best supports your circumstances. The following provides some examples of the type of information that may be suitable however, this is not intended to be an exhaustive or exclusive list.

  • An overview of the current situation that led to the application, for example that there is an increase or anticipated increase of children accessing 600 hours of preschool. This might include the current or anticipated future demand for preschool places.
  • The service may currently be at capacity with a waiting list that may include equity children.
  • Factors that have influenced why the service is at capacity might include significant growth in the number of children and families in the area, or projected growth with recent developments in the area (supported by an overview and evidence of this situation to support the application).
  • There may be an identified shortage of early childhood education and care places available in the area (supported by an overview and evidence of this situation to support the application).
  • An overview of relevant programs for equity children that have influenced demand for the service.
  • An overview of community engagement activity and findings to support evidence for demand.
  • Projected population growth linked to significant employer or industry commencing in the town/area and/or significant increase in scale of new residential area development sites.
  • Other significant factors that indicate a new demand or shortage in the local area. For example closure of other early childhood services delivering preschool programs.

The project period runs for ten years from the date the works are completed which means completed buildings must be able to offer the preschool places created by the capital works project for this period (10 years). As such, applicants must be able to provide evidence that they have the capacity to secure the proposed site for the entire project period through land ownership, a long term lease or other suitable arrangements. The Department will work with successful applicants to agree appropriate security instrument for the grant.

A security instrument is a form of guarantee that is in place for a period of ten years from the date the capital works project is completed. It provides security to the Department against the value of the grant should the grantee in any way fail to complete the capital works project or meet the terms and conditions of the funding agreement. 

The Department’s security preference is a mortgage for owned premises, or a mortgage of lease for leased premises. The Department may propose a range of security instruments in some situations where the preferred security instrument is not available.

The Department will work with successful applicants to agree appropriate security instrument for the grant.

The Department strongly encourages interested services to use the application guide and refer to the following websites to attain a better understanding of the components of project builds including development application requirements, timelines, procurement approaches and managing risks associated with undertaking construction works.

See below link for information on planning controls aligned to the National Quality Framework and the State Environmental Planning Policy (Educational Establishments and Child Care Facilities) 2017 (the SEPP). These NSW planning guidelines are used by consent authorities (i.e. local councils) when assessing a development application for a centre-based early childhood education and care facility. The guidelines cover a broad range of requirements for early childhood education and care services in NSW.

If you plan to deliver your capital works projects on crown land leased through your local council, you may wish to refer to the link below.

If you have submitted your application in error prior to the closing date, you may retrieve and further edit your application from SmartyGrants by contacting the Capital Works team on or via telephone on 1300 755 426.

SmartyGrants is a user-friendly platform. View the help guide for applicants for an explanation of the essential steps you need to take to complete and submit your application form.

Applications close on midnight, Sunday 23 August 2020. Late applications will not be considered. Some unforeseen and exceptional circumstances may apply however these would need to be considered on a case by case scenario.

Following the closing date, applications will be checked for eligibility and completeness. The Department may contact applicants during this phase to clarify factual information, particularly on the eligibility criteria.

Following eligibility checks, applications will progress to the competitive assessment stage undertaken by an assessment panel.

Timing of the 2020 grant round assessment outcome will depend on a number of factors including volume of applications received. Capital works grants are assessed competitively through a comprehensive process. Whilst every endeavor is made to notify applicants of the outcome promptly, there is no scheduled timeline for notification of the grant outcome. Timelines will be updated as the assessment and confirmation process progresses. 


  • Early Childhood Outcomes

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  • Early Childhood Outcomes
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