Program guidelines

The 2020 Start Strong Capital Works Grants Program aims to increase the number of 600 hour community preschool places available in areas of need and growing demand. The primary objective of this program is to achieve an increase in community preschool places through the delivery of capital works projects.

Research shows that children who participate in a quality early childhood education program for at least 600 hours in the year before school are more likely to start school equipped with the social, cognitive and emotional skills they need to engage in learning.

Grant-based funding allows the use of innovative approaches to improve access to quality services and increase community preschool places across the state.

Program overview - 2020 round

In 2019, the NSW government made an election commitment to allocate an additional $20m over four years for new and existing community preschools to build, renovate or extend their facilities to cater for increasing enrolments across the state.

Funding of $10 million dollars has been committed to the 2020 Start Strong Capital Works Grants Program.

Eligible services can apply for funding through this program to:

  • build a new centre based community preschool
  • extend an existing centre based community preschool
  • renovate premises for a centre based community preschool
  • purchase a motor vehicle for an existing mobile preschool
  • respond to a crisis situation with a capital works project

Capital works grants will be awarded through a competitive assessment process. Applications will be open through SmartyGrants during 22 June 2020 until 23 August 2020.

For guidance on the suitability of this grants program to individual services and their proposed projects, please see the frequently asked questions.

Once services are ready to apply we strongly encourage them to refer to the application guide. These two resources provide useful practical information on the application journey and cover a range of examples and supporting documents that a service could include with their application.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible to be able to apply for this grant program applicants must:

  • be registered or incorporated in NSW
  • be a not for profit organisation or association, or a local government entity
  • have appropriate governance mechanisms and sound financial management
  • hold, or will hold a valid Provider Approval to operate an early childhood education service in NSW (Provider Approval must be obtained within 12 months of receiving notification of the successful outcome of the grant application)
  • operate, or will operate, a centre based community preschool service with a valid Service Approval (Service providers intending to operate an early childhood education centre must obtain Service Approval within 12 months of receiving notification of the successful outcome of the grant application)
  • comply with the requirements of applicable national and state laws and regulations for the relevant service type (e.g. the Early Childhood Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010, Children (Education and Care Services National Law Application) Act 2010
  • applicants applying for funding to purchase a motor vehicle must currently operate a mobile preschool service in NSW with a fixed term mobile preshool funding contract with the NSW Department of Education.

You are not eligible to apply for the 2020 round Start Strong Capital Works Grants Program if:

  • you are a for-profit organisation or association, including a sole trader or a Pty Ltd company
  • you do not currently operate a mobile preschool or do not operate/do not plan to operate a centre based community preschool service in NSW a valid service approval.

Application categories

Applicants can apply for funding through this program under these five categories:

  1. Build a new centre based community preschool
  2. Extend an existing centre based community preschool
  3. Renovate premises for a centre based community preschool
  4. Purchase a motor vehicle for a currently operating mobile preschool
  5. Respond to a crisis situation with a capital works project

Categories 1, 2 and 3: Build, extend or renovate – centre based community preschools

Applications in these three categories will need to demonstrate that the proposed capital works project for a centre based community preschool (including crisis situations) will meet the following requirements:

  • the service must contribute at least 5% of the total project cost. Applicants must supply proof that the service can provide this contribution. This requirement may be waived for crisis situations if necessary
  • the capital works grant must not be used to fund the purchase of land (and the existing buildings on the land). Applicants will be asked to confirm this as part of the application
  • the application must provide information related to proof of ownership of land or a lease arrangement for a minimum of 10 years
  • the Department requires confirmation that the centre based community preschool will continue to operate for a period of 10 years from the date the Works are completed
  • for renovations, the premises may or may not be currently operating as a preschool service. The renovation will increase the premises’ functionality to operate as a preschool service in order to meet the program aim (rather than renovating solely for aesthetic purposes)
  • also see the application guide on specific evidence required for these categories.

Category 4: Purchase motor vehicle for currently operating mobile preschool service

Applications will need to demonstrate that the purchase of a new motor vehicle for a mobile preschool meet the following:

  • the applicant must currently operate an approved mobile preschool
  • the motor vehicle must be used primarily to deliver preschool education to approved mobile preschool venues
  • the motor vehicle must be fit for purpose and capable of transporting equipment to mobile venues and of operating safely in varying weather conditions
  • the motor vehicle must be registered in NSW
  • note that one application per new vehicle is required.

Category 5: Crisis situation applications

The crisis situation category is for capital works projects that increase or maintain preschool places in centre based community preschools by addressing an immediate need in one or more of the following situations, when all other options have been exhausted:

  • maintaining or increasing community preschool places where a service is facing closure due to exceptional circumstances, for example, compulsory acquisition of premises
  • providing access to the preschool to satisfy government accessibility requirements for preschools, where the capital works project enables an increase in community preschool places
  • maintaining or increasing community preschool places where a service impacted by the 2019/20 NSW bushfires must complete urgent structural remediation work as a result of a shortfall/gap in their insurance cover or a refusal of an insurance claim
  • providing unique solutions for preschool provision in remote communities where access is limited or non-existent.

The requirement for applicants to provide a 5% contribution to the total project cost may be waived if necessary.

Applications under the crisis situations category will also need to address application requirements for the relevant Category (1, 2 or 3) for centre based community preschools. Mobile preschools in urgent need of replacement vehicle(s) should apply for grant funding under Category 4 – Purchase a motor vehicle for a currently operating preschool.

Security arrangements – security instrument for the grant award

A security instrument is a form of guarantee that is in place for a period of ten years from the date the 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 project or meet the terms and conditions of the funding agreement.

A security instrument needs to be agreed to by all parties before the Funding Agreement can be executed. The Department may propose a range of security instruments depending on the grant application category and land ownership or lease arrangements. The security instrument options include a ‘security interest’ under the Personal Property Securities Act 2009, a real property mortgage/mortgage of lease or a third party guarantee. An agreed security instrument between parties is a condition of the Funding Agreement and the grant award cannot proceed until this is in place. The Department provides guidance and information to successful grant applicants to ensure a security interest can be negotiated and agreed and to enable the progression of the capital works grant and related project.

Further application requirements

The type of information that applicants will require includes, but is not limited to:

  • evidence of Provider Approval or of intent to obtain Provider Approval within the required 12 month timeframe
  • evidence of Service Approval or of intent to obtain Service Approval within the required timeframe
  • evidence of appropriate governance mechanisms and sound financial management
  • a detailed project plan, timeline and quotes
  • a project description, concept/ building design plans and scope of works (for category 1, 2, 3, 5)
  • a photo of the proposed capital works project site, including any buildings that are part of this grant application (for category 1, 2, 3, 5)
  • a detailed project budget, including the applicant's contribution and additional sources of funding for the project
  • evidence of the need and demand for preschool places
  • projected increase in community preschool places and the current approved capacity as per NQAITS (for currently operating services)
  • description and/or evidence source on how the applicant estimated the projected increase in places (e.g. floor plans referencing floor space ratios)
  • evidence of consultation and engagement with the local Aboriginal community
  • evidence to show how the grant will contribute to improving access for Aboriginal children, ‘equity children’ (children with a disability or additional needs, children from low income families) and children of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
  • evidence of site ownership or formal lease or other leasing agreements for the site (for category 1, 2, 3, 5)
  • evidence that the applicant is able to proceed with the proposed capital works project on the site (for category 1, 2, 3, 5)
  • quotes for motor vehicle (for category 4)
  • evidence of the structural damage that requires urgent repairs and, evidence of insurance claim and the outcome of the lodged claim (for category 5, bushfire impacted service)
  • quotes for structural repairs to premises impacted by the NSW bushfires (category 5).

The Department encourages applications that:

  • provide relevant evidence of a demonstrated shortage of preschool places
  • provide a substantial increase in the available 600 hour preschool places. A substantial increase is defined as a large increase in the number of approved community preschool places per day compared to the current service capacity
  • demonstrate value for money in terms of the cost per preschool place created
  • will improve the provision of a culturally safe and appropriate educational setting for Aboriginal children, informed by evidence of consultation with the local Aboriginal community
  • improve the provision of an appropriate education setting for ‘equity children’ (Aboriginal children, children with disability or additional need, children from low income families) and children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
  • demonstrate readiness to proceed with the project, for example with a detailed project plan, timeline and proof of ownership or adequate lease period.

Application assessment process

Applications for the 2020 round of the Start Strong Capital Works Grants Program close on 23 August 2020.

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. Each assessment panel member conducts an individual assessment of each application against the program and category specific criteria. The assessment panel members then convene in a joint panel meeting and agree on prioritisation of applications to be endorsed for a grant award.

The Department will prioritise applications that are in areas of need and growing demand as part of the assessment. The Department will refer to available data to determine priority areas, including population projections and Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) data.

The final placement of each application will consider the total score across all relevant criteria and the overall impact of the proposed project on the program outcome.

The assessment of applications submitted under category 5 - crisis situation will include consideration of the extent to which the applicant describes an immediate need, and whether the submitted evidence shows that all other options have been exhausted.

Endorsement of grant awards will be subject to budget availability.

Assessment outcome

All applicants will be advised of the outcome in writing. The outcome will be one of the following:

  • successful - grant application endorsed
  • unsuccessful - grant application not endorsed

Applicants have a right to request detailed feedback on their grant application following the announcement of endorsed grants. Applicants also have the right to complain or appeal about any aspect of the capital works grants application or assessment process. To lodge a complaint or appeal, please submit your issue in writing via capital.works@det.nsw.edu.au.

Appeals will be forwarded to an independent decision maker not previously involved in the grants assessment process.

Successful applicants will be required to complete relevant documentation that applies to their grant category and to agree to a suitable security instrument as proposed by the Department. A grant confirmation letter will be forwarded to the successful applicant and the terms and conditions to receive funding. Successful applicants will need to provide the Department with ancillary documentation, a funding specification, project plan with milestones and such other documents as advised by the Department from time to time.

Full expenditure of funding is a condition of this program, and services will be expected to:

  • complete financial acquittals: Services will be requested to complete financial acquittals on their capital works grant expenditure. The Department also conducts audits confirm the accuracy of data provided in financial accountability statements.
  • meet project reporting requirements to the Department and continue to do so for a duration of ten years from the date the Works are completed.
  • return any unspent funds to the Department.

Contact details

Applications are open through SmartyGrants from 22 June – 23 August 2020. To assist applicants in the preparation of grant applications for this program, see the frequently asked questions and application guide. The Department encourages all applicants to refer to these two resources before submitting their capital works grant application.

For more information about the 2020 round of the Start Strong Capital Works Grants Program, please contact:

Early Childhood Education Directorate
Ph. 1300 755 426
Email: capital.works@det.nsw.edu.au

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