Start Strong Capital Works - Frequently asked questions

Capital Works Grants Program FAQs

Start Strong Capital Works Grants are funds given to eligible not-for-profit organisations to undertake capital works projects and deliver additional preschool places in areas of need and demand across NSW. 

The Start Strong Capital Works Grants Program enables eligible not-for-profit organisations to access funding across several grant categories, including:

The Crisis Fund of the 2022/2023 Start Strong Capital Works Grants Program is now live. Please refer to the department website for further information on opening dates and rounds for other Funds. Round 1 of the Major Capital Fund will open on 4 October 2022.

The decision to apply for funding rests with the applicant organisation. Any decision to apply for a capital works grant should first be discussed with your governing body. 

Important things to consider include:

  • Are you currently operating or intending to operate a centre-based preschool, long day care service or mobile preschool service?

  • Do you meet the eligibility requirements?

  • Do you intend to create additional preschool places?

  • Has an increase in preschool places been considered in your business planning?

  • Is there need and demand for preschool places in your community?

  • Is your organisation committed to managing a capital works project if you are awarded a grant?

These questions are prompts to guide you to determine the funding stream that best addresses your needs and suits your capital works project. They also help you decide when you are ready to apply and for which round.

It is up to applicants to determine if they meet the eligibility requirements outlined in the program guidelines for each of the four Funds.  There are separate eligibility requirements for each Fund and these may vary within each Fund across rounds.  

Previously unsuccessful applicants are encouraged to apply. You should review any feedback from the department on your previous application to ensure you are putting forward an application that aligns with the purpose and eligibility requirements of the Fund. 

If you have any questions, please contact the Capital Programs team on capital.works@det.nsw.edu.au  or via telephone on 1800 619 113.

The department will review an applicant’s past performance and assess whether it is likely to have an impact on successful delivery of the proposed project. This will include considering whether the applicant has:

  • taken appropriate steps to deliver previous projects funded through the Start Strong Capital Works Grants Program within appropriate timeframes (where applicable);

  • overdue projects funded by the department and whether extensions have been requested and/or approved; and

 

  • completed projects funded by the department and whether all documentation required to acquit the grant funding has been submitted, including regular monthly reporting and acquittal within the contracted time frame.

As part of the assessment process the department reserves the right to use information gained as part of its normal course of business in determining performance against the eligibility and assessment criteria. This may include investigating the applicant’s regulatory performance and compliance history with regard to their Provider Approval and any associated Service Approval/s (both current and historical).

Poor performance against these factors may result in projects not being recommended for funding.

 

A range of supports are available to assist eligible organisations to prepare a grant application. These are outlined on the support for preparing a grant application page of the website.

All applicants will benefit from a range of supports, including:

  • Webinars covering a range of key topics relevant to the application process and the delivery of a capital works project. A webinar is scheduled for 13 October 2022, with registrations opening soon. Dates and topics of further webinars will be announced on our website shortly.

  • Online Resources and Tools to assist applicants in preparing an application for their Fund of choice, including:
    • Fund Guidelines
    • Fund Application Guides
    • Useful Information.

Targeted applicants will be able to express their interest in accessing one-on-one application support from industry experts to prepare an application for the Major Capital Fund and Crisis Fund. For more information on the targeted groups and the one-on-one application support, please review the Application Support Guidelines.

If your question is related to the SmartyGrants website and form, you can view the help guide for an explanation of the essential steps you need to take to complete and submit your application form. 

 

Once you submit your application you will not be able to send further documentation unless the department specifically requests it. We encourage you to submit a complete application to ensure your application can be properly assessed.

Funds have either been extended, are continuous or have multiple rounds, giving providers time to prepare and submit complete applications.

A Glossary of commonly used terms is available on the website to assist applicants in understanding program-specific terminology. 

If you still need help, you may contact the Capital Programs Team on capital.works@det.nsw.edu.au or via telephone on 1800 619 113.

All amounts listed on your application must exclude GST, this includes the grant amount being requested. 

If amounts include GST, this can artificially lower the value for money calculation of your project and it may impact the assessment outcome.

This refers to the sources of funds the provider contributes to the total capital works project costs. Applicants are encouraged to contribute at least 5% of the total cost of the project with provider contribution, but this may be waived for Crisis Fund applications at the discretion of the department.

The provider contribution can be comprised of preschool funds and/or loans. Applicants will be required to confirm and provide evidence of the availability of these funds and/or loans.

Provider contributions are not required to be over 5% of the total project cost. However, please note that provider contributions above 5% have a positive impact on the value for money calculation of your project and will make this element of your application more competitive. 

This refers to any funding by parties other than the Start Strong Capital Works Grant Program and the Provider applying for the grant (ex GST). Alternative sources of funding can include other grants from State, Federal or Local Government, any donations from private or public organisations and in-kind services. In-kind services (for example, the offer of free engineering services) should be listed on your budget but should be quantified as $0.  All other types of contribution must have the dollar amount specified. 

Providers are encouraged to use other sources of funding to support the delivery of capital works projects, in addition to the grant and the provider contribution. The more funding a provider can contribute and source, the higher the value for money of the project. 

Applicants must confirm and provide evidence of the amount and availability of these funds. These amounts will not be funded by the department. 

The total cost of the project must factor in all expenses, including professional and project management fees, legal fees, builder and construction contingency, provider contingency and any other administrative costs related to the project. 

Total project expenses should be equal to the total project budget, including the grant amount, provider contribution and any other sources of funding.

For capital works projects, it is highly recommended that you include provider and builder/ construction contingency costs in your budget. Builder/construction contingency refers to the sum set aside to cover any cost escalations and overruns related to the build. It is expected that the builder/construction contingency is included within the builder’s quote. Provider contingency refers to the funding set aside by the applicant for other risks associated with the delivery of the capital works project, outside of construction or builder expenses. Examples may include unforeseen increases in project management and/or statutory fees. 

A reasonable allowance for contingency can be included in the project expenditure budget within the application for grant funding.  

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 Programs Team on capital.works@det.nsw.edu.au or via telephone on 1800 619 113.

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

Following the closing date, applications will be assessed against the eligibility criteria, followed by an assessment against the assessment criteria established for each Fund category as outlined in the individual Fund Program Guidelines.

Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) is a product developed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics that ranks areas in Australia according to relative socio-economic advantage and disadvantage. The indexes are based on information from the five-yearly Census.

Capital works projects in areas where there is a shortage in preschool places and relative socio-economic disadvantage (low SEIFA) will be prioritised.

Applicants will receive updates on application assessment and approval timeframes as the process progresses. Timeframes will vary and will be dependent on the volume of applications received.

Major Capital Fund FAQs

The compliance period runs for ten years from the date the capital works project is completed, which means the service must be able to offer the preschool places created by the capital works project for ten years on the capital works site.

Applicants must be able to provide evidence that they have the capacity to secure the proposed site for the entire project and compliance period through land ownership, a long-term lease or license, or other suitable land arrangements.

A Security Instrument is a form of guarantee that is in place 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 is required to register a security instrument for the Major Capital Fund and Crisis Fund projects. This is a mandatory requirement for high-value grants to ensure that the department’s investment and the delivery of additional preschool places are secured for a 10-year period post-project completion.

For this fund, applicants are required to consent to this requirement should they be successful with their application:

  • if you own the land, you understand you will be required to enter into a mortgage;

  • if you have a 10-year lease, you and your landlord will be required to consent to a mortgage of lease; 

  • if you have a license on a school site, you must discuss the planned project and licensing implications with your contract manager at School Infrastructure NSW;

  • if you have any other land arrangements or circumstances, you consent to an appropriate security instrument as advised by the department.

The time needed to negotiate and execute the Security Instrument will vary depending on the complexity of your mortgage or lease arrangements and the value of your grant award.

The Security Instrument must be in place before the department can execute the Funding Agreement and pay funds to the Approved Funded Provider.

 

If you propose to build or upgrade a service on a department school site you must have a current licence agreement to operate the service prior to applying for the grant. 

Please note that the Early Childhood Education Directorate does not manage the allocation of licences to operate preschools on public school sites. This process is independently managed by School Infrastructure NSW. 

For further information in relation to a current licence agreement or lease, please contact your current licence agreement contract manager at School Infrastructure NSW: preschools.sinsw@det.nsw.edu.au. Your contract manager can assist in facilitating any additional contact with stakeholders, such as the school principal and the Asset Management Unit of School Infrastructure NSW, to ensure the planned project is fully supported and can be accommodated on the school site.

Successful applicants for a project on a department school site will need to provide evidence of a current licence agreement and/or lease to operate the service for a ten-year period after project completion.

If you are currently delivering a preschool program in a not-for-profit long day care setting and intend to use the Start Strong Capital Works funding for an increase in preschool places only, there will be an opportunity for you to apply for Rounds 2 and 3 of the Major Capital Fund.

You must differentiate the long day care and preschool components of your project throughout your application. This grant cannot fund any increase in long day care places for non-preschool aged children, or spaces that are not primarily used for preschool provision, including but not limited to:

  • rooms dedicated for community or allied health services, 

 

  • rooms, facilities or spaces, both indoor and outdoor, that are utilised primarily for nursery or toddler age groups.

If your project proposes an increase in long day care places for non-preschool aged children, these have to be funded by the provider or other sources of funding and evidence of this should be provided in your application.

Please note that the Major Capital Fund will only open to eligible long day care services to apply for Rounds 2 and 3.

 

An increase in preschool places is an expected outcome of a Major Capital Fund grant. If you do not intend to increase preschool places then you will not be eligible for funding through the Major Capital Fund.

Successful grant applicants will be accountable for increasing preschool places on the National Quality Agenda IT System (NQAITS) once the project is complete and must make reasonable endeavours to fill these as preschool places in accordance with their capital works grant funding Terms and Conditions. 

During the compliance period providers will be requested to submit evidence of the number of preschool places, for example enrolment information or census results.

The department strongly encourages you to use the Major Capital Fund Application Guide and refer to the support preparing a grant application page of the website. These resources will provide a better understanding of the components of project builds including development application requirements, timelines, procurement approaches and managing risks associated with major capital works.

Need and demand refers to the current shortage in preschool places, it factors in the current supply of available preschool places and the projection of future demand for preschool places. 

The department will consider its own data on need and demand including services in SA3 areas with a shortfall in community preschool places and will also consider the Socio-Economic Index for Areas (SEIFA) and Accessibility and Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA).  However, you may also submit evidence to support your application. This could include:

  • references to limited number of centre-based long day care or community preschool services in the local area and whether they are currently at or close to capacity, issues regarding access to these services.

  • an overview of demand for preschool places, including a waiting list for the service.

  • evidence of significant growth in the number of children and families in the area due to population growth, new industries or residential development.

  • evidence of an identified shortage of preschool places in the area.

  • letters from parents and community feedback if applicable.

 

  • 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.

 

SA3 shortfall area refers to catchment areas defined by the Statistical Area 3 (SA3) that are forecasted to experience a shortage in the supply of community preschool places in 2023 and beyond. 

The department engaged Ernst and Young (EY) to undertake an independent analysis on the demand and supply of community preschool services across NSW, which resulted in the identification of a number of SA3s with a shortfall of community preschool places.

Priority will be given to community preschools intending to undertake capital works to extend, renovate or build a community preschool in an SA3 identified as having a shortfall by the Department’s methodology. These applicants may also be eligible to receive a capped number of hours of one-on-one support to prepare an application. Please see the Application Support Guidelines for further information.

Please note applicants proposing to undertake a capital works project in an area not identified as having a shortfall can apply and will still be considered under the Major Capital Fund. Eligible applicants are highly encouraged to put forward an application under the Major Capital Fund if they meet the program’s objectives, eligibility and assessment criteria

Your increase in preschool places is the number of licenced (per day) preschool places that you intend to create as a direct result of your project. 

For example, if you currently have a licence for 20 children per day as recorded on the National Quality Agenda IT System (NQAITS), and you expect to have a licence for 25 children per day after the capital works project, your proposed increase in preschool places is 5. 

You should carefully consider the space planning guidelines and regulatory requirements for Early Childhood Education services (see support for preparing a grant application page of the website) to ensure the increase you are proposing is feasible, noting you will be required to provide evidence to substantiate the proposed increase in places.

Please note that all questions about preschool places refer to your licence or per day places as per NQAITS, and not 600-hour or 'per week' places. 

If you are relocating a service to a new site subject to capital works, the increase would only be the additional places that can be accommodated in your new site. For example, if you currently have a licence for 30 children per day as per NQAITS and you expect to have 40 in the new site after the capital works, your proposed increase would be 10 places per day.

Your increase in preschool places is the number of licenced (per day) preschool places that you intend to create as a direct result of your project. 

For example, if you currently have a licence for 20 children per day as recorded on the National Quality Agenda IT System (NQAITS), and you expect to have a licence for 25 children per day after the capital works project, your proposed increase in preschool places is 5. 

You should carefully consider the space planning guidelines and regulatory requirements for Early Childhood Education services (see support for preparing a grant application page of the website) to ensure the increase you are proposing is feasible, noting you will be required to provide evidence to substantiate the proposed increase in places.

Long day care or multipurpose settings should note that references to preschool places refers to approved number of licensed places dedicated exclusively for enrolments of preschool-aged children participating in a preschool program. 

Please refer to the Major Capital Fund Program Guidelines for further information regarding these definitions.

If you are relocating a service to a new site subject to capital works, the increase would only be the additional places that can be accommodated in your new site. For example, if you currently have a licence for 30 children per day as per NQAITS and you expect to have 40 in the new site after the capital works, your proposed increase would be 10 places per day.

If you have a preschool program, please clearly identify on your application what the current split between places for preschool-aged children undergoing a preschool program and non-preschool places is, and the places you intend to deliver for each service type. The Major Capital Fund will only fund the portion of increase in places dedicated to the delivery of a preschool education program for preschool-aged children in your existing multipurpose or long day care service.

If there is a portion of the build that will not be used primarily for preschool provision (e.g. rooms allocated to community or health services), these spaces will not be included in the calculation of increase preschool places. 

Value for money is determined by looking at the total income and the total cost of your proposed project.

When reviewing the cost of your project, the department will consider the 'cost per place'. This is calculated by dividing the grant amount requested from the department, excluding GST, by the number of additional preschool places you intend to create with your project. 

If your project has a lower cost per place, this may positively impact your value for money assessment. Noting that the benefits of your project will be considered along with cost.

To clearly ascertain the cost and value for money of your project it is vital that:

  • your application is complete;

  • your proposal clearly outlines the number of preschool places per day you intend to create with your project. For the purposes of this grant, the increase in places must be the number of preschool places you intend to deliver once the capital works project is complete. Please consider the spaces and regulatory requirements (see support preparing a grant application) for increasing preschool places to ensure the proposed increase is feasible;

  • you provide 2 quotes obtained in the past 4 months to substantiate your claims; and,

  • you provide a clear budget that outlines all the financial elements of your project (grant amount, provider contribution, other sources of funding if any and total cost of the project). All figures must exclude GST and must be consistent throughout the application.

To improve the value for money of your application you can:

  • test the market by seeking multiple itemised quotes for your project;

  • reduce the grant amount by increasing the provider contribution or seeking external sources of funding;

  • reduce the grant amount by removing non-essential elements of your design, revising the types of materials used in your build or ensuring you are not seeking funding for non-eligible elements as per the Fund Guidelines; and,/or

 

  • reduce the cost per place of your project by maintaining the grant amount but increasing the number of preschool places per day your project can deliver. 

When calculating the number of preschool places that can be created from your project you must take into consideration the space and regulatory requirements for Early Childhood Education services (see support for preparing a grant application). You will be required to provide evidence as to how you calculated the proposed increase in line with regulatory requirements.

 

While there is no limit on the grant amount you can request, value for money is considered when assessing whether your project will be recommended for funding. 

The Major Capital Fund will not fund spaces that are not primarily used for preschool provision. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • rooms dedicated for community or allied health services; and,

  • rooms, facilities or spaces, both indoor and outdoor, that are utilised primarily for nursery or toddler age groups.

If there is a portion of the build that will be used primarily for other purposes (e.g. rooms allocated to community or health services), these spaces must be funded by the provider or other sources of funding. This should be clearly noted on your budget breakdown.

Similarly, if you are a multipurpose facility or not-for-profit long day care your budget must differentiate the portion of your build that will increase preschool places. This grant can only fund the portion that will increase preschool places. The provider or other sources of funding will have to fund the portion of the build that will increase long day care places for non-preschool age children. 

Refer to the Major Capital Fund Guidelines for a list of elements which can and cannot be funded by the grant.

Please note submitting quotes obtained in the past 4 months is a requirement to assess the value for money of your project. At least two quotes that reflect the final design of your project must be included in your application. 

Applicants should contact the department if they are unable to obtain the required quotes. In exceptional circumstances this requirement may be waived. 

A suitable project manager must be identified and appointed within four weeks of the Funding Agreement execution.

The name and contact details (email, telephone number, including mobile) of the proposed project manager must be included in the application and confirmed in the Funding Agreement.

For applications with a total project cost of $500,000 excluding GST or above, applicants will be required to provide evidence of their project manager’s qualifications and experience in the management of infrastructure projects. Project management costs should be included in the budget for the grant application. 

Failure to follow these requirements regarding a project manager could ultimately result in the department withdrawing from the funding commitment. 

Funds are released as each milestone is achieved. The first milestone payment cannot be released until the Funding Agreement and the Security Instrument have been negotiated and fully executed by all parties. 

Please note that depending on your circumstances, the execution of a Security Instrument can take time. Please factor this into your timeframes and requirements prior to entering into any contracts with any third parties, to avoid any financial hardship.

The grant is paid in instalments in accordance with project milestones. The grant type and total project cost will determine the number of project milestones and payments. 

For example, if you have 4 milestones then you will be paid: 

  • 40% for Milestone 1 completion

  • 30% for Milestone 2 completion

  • 20% for Milestone 3 completion

 

  • 10% for Milestone 4 completion.

You are required to submit progress reports and evidence to the department when you complete a project milestone. The Department will send you the progress report template to complete at the appropriate time. The department will assess the progress report and if it is satisfactory, will arrange payment of that milestone. Evidence should include any relevant approvals, reports or certificates related to the capital works, before and after photos and itemised invoices.

 

Construction works must start within 12 months of receipt of a successful Outcome Letter. Major Capital Fund projects must be completed and acquitted within 24 months of the Funding Agreement being executed. 

If you do experience unexpected delays, please contact the Capital Programs Team as soon as possible. Please note that as per the Terms and Conditions, the grant recipient is responsible for any shortfalls in funding or overruns that may arise.

Any requests for extension to the project timeframes will be considered by the department in accordance with the provisions in the Funding Agreement. At a high level, such requests will generally involve:

  • the grant recipient contacting the department immediately upon identifying that they may not meet the timeframes for project delivery; and

  • the grant recipient being required to provide detailed written evidence that explains the reason for the delay and demonstrates how the project will be completed within the additional time requested. 

The grant recipient must note that timeframe extensions may not be approved, and that excessive delays may ultimately result in the department recommending to the Minister withdrawal of the funding commitment.

For all grants provided under the Major Capital Fund, service approval will need to be obtained for the additional approved places within 12 months of project completion.  

For further information on the Approvals Process please visit the department’s website or contact the department’s Quality Assessment and Regulation Services on 1800 619 113 (toll free) or by emailing ececd@det.nsw.edu.au.

Crisis Fund FAQs

The Crisis Fund supports the maintenance and/or creation of preschool places where there is an immediate and/or urgent need for capital works in at least one of the following circumstances:

  1. An existing not-for-profit centre-based long day care or community preschool service is facing closure or relocation due to exceptional or unforeseen circumstances, for example compulsory acquisition of premises or a natural disaster, which would result in children being unable to access preschool education in reasonable proximity to their community.

  2. An eligible organisation wants to expand an existing, or operate a new, not-for-profit centre-based long day care or community preschool in a remote or very remote area as per the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) (ARIA Index) where access to preschool education is limited or non-existent.

  3. An Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation wants to expand an existing, or operate a new, centre-based long day care or community preschool service within NSW. 

You will be required to submit evidence to prove your crisis situation as per the scenario that best describes your circumstances. 

Please note that applicants intending to undertake routine maintenance works or repairs to meet compliance and regulatory requirements, or services that are relocating voluntarily to a new site that requires capital works are not eligible under this category. See the Crisis Fund Guidelines for further details.

 

The compliance period runs for ten years from the date the capital works project is completed, which means the service must be able to offer the preschool places created by the capital works project for ten years on the capital works site.

Applicants must be able to provide evidence that they have the capacity to secure the proposed site for the entire project and compliance period through land ownership, a long-term lease or license, or other suitable arrangements. 

A Security Instrument is a form of guarantee that is in place 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 is required to register a Security Instrument for Major Capital and Crisis Funds grants. This is a mandatory requirement for high-value grants to ensure that the department’s investment and the delivery of additional preschool places are secured for a 10-year period post-project completion.

For this fund, applicants are required to consent to this requirement should they be successful with their application:

  • if you own the land, you understand you will be required to enter into a mortgage;

  • if you have a 10-year lease, you and your landlord will be required to consent to a mortgage of lease; 

  • if you have a license on a school site, you must discuss the planned project and licensing implications with your contract manager at School Infrastructure NSW;

  • if you have any other land arrangements or circumstances, you consent to an appropriate security instrument as advised by the department.

The time needed to negotiate and execute the Security Instrument will vary depending on the complexity of your mortgage or lease arrangements and the value of your grant award.

The Security Instrument must be in place before the department can execute the Funding Agreement and pay funds to the Approved Funded Provider.

 

If you propose to build or upgrade a service on a department school site you must have a current licence agreement to operate the service prior to applying for the grant. 

Please note that the Early Childhood Education Directorate does not manage the allocation of licences to operate preschools on public school sites. This process is independently managed by School Infrastructure NSW. 

For further information in relation to a current licence agreement or lease, please contact your current licence agreement contract manager at School Infrastructure NSW: preschools.sinsw@det.nsw.edu.au

Your contract manager can assist in facilitating any additional contact with stakeholders, such as the school principal and the Asset Management Unit of School Infrastructure NSW, to ensure the planned project is fully supported and can be accommodated on the school site. 

If you are currently delivering a preschool program for preschool-aged children within a not-for-profit long day care setting and intend to use the capital works funding for an increase/maintenance in preschool places only, then yes you can apply.  

You must differentiate the long day care and preschool components of your project throughout your application. This grant cannot fund any maintenance and/or increase in long day care places for non-preschool aged children or spaces that are not primarily used for preschool provision including but not limited to:

  • rooms dedicated for community or allied health services, 

 

  • rooms, facilities or spaces, both indoor and outdoor, that are utilised primarily for nursery or toddler age groups.

If your project proposes an increase/maintenance in long day care places for non-preschool aged children, these have to be funded by the provider or other sources of funding and evidence of this should be provided in your application.

 

This depends on your crisis circumstances and the specifics of your capital works project. The broad objective of this category is to respond to a crisis with capital works to maintain and/or increase preschool places. 

Some applicants may only maintain the current preschool places they offer while some other applicants may both maintain and increase their licence because of the proposed capital works. 

Please note that whenever the Capital Programs Team refers to preschool places we are referring to the approved licensed or per day places that are dedicated exclusively for enrolments of preschool-aged children participating in a preschool education program, delivered by a qualified early childhood teacher. Please refer to the Crisis Fund Application Guide for further assistance.

To determine if your capital works site is currently located in a remote or very remote area, you may enter your capital works address and all relevant suburbs or localities on the ABS website, click on the green icon that reads “Identify Regions and ASGS classification”, and refer to the  2016 Remoteness Area (RA) classification. 

Please note that local areas or addresses classified as Inner or Outer Regional or Major Cities will not be eligible under this crisis subcategory. If you encounter difficulties navigating the ABS map to determine your 2016 Remoteness Area (RA) classification, please contact us at capital.works@det.nsw.edu.au for assistance.

The department strongly encourages you to use the Crisis Fund Application Guide and refer to the support preparing a grant application page of the website. These resources will provide a better understanding of the components of project builds including development application requirements, timelines, procurement approaches and managing risks associated with capital works projects.

Value for money is determined by looking at the total income and the total cost of your proposed project.

When reviewing the cost of your project, the department will consider the “cost per place”. For the Crisis Fund, this is calculated by dividing the grant amount requested from the department, excluding GST, by the number of preschool places you intend to create and/or maintain with your project. 

If your project has a lower cost per place, this may positively impact your value for money assessment. Noting that the benefits of your project will be considered along with cost.

To clearly ascertain the cost and value for money of your project it is vital that:

  • your application is complete;

  • your proposal clearly outlines the number of preschool places per day you intend to maintain and/or create with your project. For example, if with this project you are maintaining your existing 20 places per day and creating 3 additional ones, your cost per place will be calculated dividing the grant amount excluding GST by the 23 places you are maintaining and creating with the project. If you are only maintaining your existing 30 places, it will be calculated based on these 30 places. Please consider the space and regulatory requirements (see support for preparing a grant application) for increasing preschool places for determining whether the maintenance and/or increase in places you are proposing is feasible;

  • you provide 2 quotes obtained in the past 4 months to substantiate your claims; and,

  • you provide a clear budget that outlines all the financial elements of your project (grant amount, provider contribution, other sources of funding if any and total cost of the project). All figures must exclude GST and must be consistent throughout the application. 

To improve the value for money of your application you can:

  • test the market by seeking multiple itemised quotes for your project;

  • reduce the grant amount by increasing the provider contribution or seeking external sources of funding;

  • reduce the grant amount by removing non-essential elements of your design, revising the types of materials used in your build or ensuring you are not seeking funding for non-eligible elements as per the Crisis Fund Guidelines; and/or

 

  • reduce the cost per place of your project by maintaining the grant amount but increasing the number of preschool places per day your project can deliver. 

When calculating the number of preschool places that can be created with your project you must take into consideration the space and regulatory requirements for Early Childhood Education services (see support for preparing a grant application). You will be required to provide evidence as to how you calculated the proposed increase in line with regulatory requirements.

 

While there is no limit on the grant amount you can request, value for money is considered when assessing whether your project will be recommended for funding. 

Applicants are encouraged to contribute at least 5% of the total cost of the project (ex GST), as the provider contribution however, this amount can be waived for Crisis grants.

The Crisis Fund grants will not fund spaces that are not primarily used for preschool provision. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • rooms dedicated for community or allied health services; and,

  • rooms, facilities or spaces, both indoor and outdoor, that are utilised primarily for nursery or toddler age groups.

If there is a portion of the build that will be used primarily for other purposes (e.g. rooms allocated to community or health services), these spaces must be funded by the provider or other sources of funding. This should be clearly noted on your budget breakdown. 

Similarly, if you are a multipurpose facility or not-for-profit long day care your budget must differentiate the portion of your build that will maintain and/or increase preschool places. This grant can only fund the portion that will maintain and/or increase preschool places. The provider or other sources of funding will have to fund the portion of the build that will maintain and/or increase long day care places for non-preschool age children or other service types, such as BASC. 

Refer to the Crisis Fund Guidelines for a list of elements which can and cannot be funded by the grant.

Please note submitting quotes obtained in the past 4 months is a requirement to assess the value for money of your project. At least two itemised quotes that reflect the final design of your project must be included in your application. 

Applicants should contact the department if they are unable to obtain the required quotes. In exceptional circumstances this requirement may be waived. 

A suitable project manager must be identified in your application and appointed within four weeks of the Funding Agreement execution.

The name and contact details (email, telephone number, including mobile) of the proposed project manager must be included in the application and confirmed in the Funding Agreement.

For applications with a total project cost of $500,000 excluding GST or above, applicants will be required to provide evidence of their project manager’s qualifications and experience in the management of infrastructure projects. Project management costs can be included in the budget for the grant application.

Failure to follow these requirements regarding a project manager could ultimately result in the department withdrawing the funding commitment.  

Funds are released as each milestone is achieved. The first milestone payment cannot be released until the Funding Agreement and the Security Instrument have been negotiated and fully executed by all parties. 

Please note that depending on your circumstances, the execution of a Security Instrument can take time. Please factor this into your timeframes and requirements prior to entering into any contracts with any third parties, to avoid any financial hardship. 

The grant is paid in instalments in accordance with project milestones. The grant type and total project cost will determine the number of project milestones and payments. 

For example, if you have 4 milestones then you will be paid: 

  • 40% for Milestone 1 completion

  • 30% for Milestone 2 completion

  • 20% for Milestone 3 completion

 

  • 10% for Milestone 4 completion.

You are required to submit progress reports and evidence to the department when you complete a project milestone. The department will send you the progress report template to complete at the appropriate time. The department will assess the progress report and if it is satisfactory, will arrange payment of that milestone. Evidence should include any relevant approvals, reports or certificates related to the capital works, before and after photos and itemised invoices, among others.

 

Construction works must start within 12 months of receipt of a successful Outcome Letter. Crisis Fund projects must be completed and acquitted within 24 months of the Funding Agreement being executed. 

If you experience unexpected delays please contact the Capital Programs Team as soon as possible. Please note that as per the Terms and Conditions, grant recipients are responsible for any shortfalls in funding or overruns that may arise.

Any requests for extension to the project timeframes will be considered by the department in accordance with the provisions in the Funding Agreement.  At a high level, such requests will generally involve:

  • the grant recipient contacting the department immediately upon identifying that they may not meet the timeframes for project delivery; and 

  • the grant recipient being required to provide detailed written evidence that explains the reason for the delay and demonstrates how the project will be completed within the additional time requested.

Grant recipients must note that timeframe extensions may not be approved, and that excessive delays may ultimately result in the department recommending to the Minister withdrawal of the funding commitment.

 

Service approval must be within 12 months of project completion, including for any additional places as per the application, if any. 

For further information on the Approvals Process please visit the department’s website or contact the department’s Quality Assessment and Regulation Services on 1800 619 113 (toll free) or by emailing ececd@det.nsw.edu.au.

Minor Capital Fund FAQs

The Minor Capital Fund provides grants of up to $100,000 (ex GST) to support the creation of additional preschool places through smaller-scale extensions or renovations and/or the recalculation of unencumbered space for centre-based community preschool and not-for-profit long day care services in areas of need and demand across NSW.

The Minor Capital Fund grants can be used to:

  • extend or renovate existing centre-based preschool or long day care service where it will result in an increase in preschool places; and/or

  • engage a certified building practitioner to re-calculate unencumbered space where it will result in an increase in preschool places, without capital works. 

The compliance period runs for five years from the date the Minor Capital Fund project is completed, which means services must be able to offer the preschool places created by the Minor Capital Fund project for five years. 

Applicants must be able to provide evidence that they have the capacity to secure the proposed site for the entire project and compliance period through land ownership, a long term lease or other suitable arrangement.

If you propose to build or upgrade a service on a department school site you must have a current licence agreement to operate the service prior to applying for the grant. 

Please note that the Early Childhood Education Directorate does not manage the allocation of licences to operate preschools on public school sites. This process is independently managed by School Infrastructure NSW. 

For further information in relation to a current licence agreement or lease, please contact your current licence agreement contract manager at School Infrastructure NSW: preschools.sinsw@det.nsw.edu.au . Your contract manager can assist in facilitating any additional contact with stakeholders, such as the school principal and the Asset Management Unit of School Infrastructure NSW, to ensure the planned project is fully supported and can be accommodated on the school site.

Successful applicants for a project on a department school site will need to provide evidence of a current licence agreement and/or lease to operate the service for a five-year period. 

If you are currently delivering a preschool program within a not-for-profit long day care setting and intend to use the Start Strong Capital Works funding for an increase in preschool places only, there will be an opportunity for you to apply to the Minor Capital Fund in 2023. Please monitor the Minor Capital Fund webpage for further announcements.

An increase in licenced places allocated to preschool delivery is an expected outcome of a Minor Capital Fund project. If you do not intend to increase preschool places then you will not be eligible for funding through the Minor Capital Fund.

Successful grant applicants will be accountable for increasing preschool places on the National Quality Agenda IT System (NQAITS) once the project is complete and must make reasonable endeavours to fill these as preschool places in accordance with their capital works grant funding Terms and Conditions. 

During the compliance period providers will be requested to submit evidence of the number of preschool places, for example enrolment information or census results.

All applicants must provide professional plans drawn up by a certified building practitioner as part of their application to support your proposed capital works project and preschool places.

In addition to this, the applicant must also confirm the number of additional preschool places that will be created in relation to unencumbered space and all relevant regulations. 

Services that can deliver an increase in places by updating professional plans (without minor capital works) can apply to have the cost of engaging a certified building practitioner reimbursed under this grant.

Applicants will be required to provide confirmation of the number of preschool places that will be created, as well as professional plans from a certified building practitioner that confirm that the unencumbered space can accommodate additional preschool places. 

Applicants will not be eligible for funding if additional preschool places cannot be created.

Although the below is not intended as an exhaustive list, applicants should consider the information provided in the resources below as a minimum when preparing their application:

As per the above listed regulations, you will be required to include both the unencumbered indoor and outdoor space available in your calculations.

Need and demand refers to the shortage in preschool places and it factors in the current supply of available preschool places and the projection of future demand.

The department will consider its own data on need and demand and will also consider the Socio-Economic Index for Areas (SEIFA) and Accessibility and Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA).  However, but you may also submit evidence to support your application. This could include:

  • references to limited number of centre-based long day or community preschool services in the local area and whether they are currently at or close to capacity, issues regarding access to these services.

  • an overview of demand for preschool places, including a waiting list for the service.

  • evidence of significant growth in the number of children and families in the area due to population growth, new industries or residential development.

  • evidence of an identified shortage of preschool places in the area.

  • letters from parents and community feedback if applicable.

  • 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.

Your increase in preschool places is the number of licenced or per day preschool places that you intend to create as a direct result of your project, allocated exclusively for preschool-aged children enrolled in a preschool program. 

For example, if you currently have a licence for 20 children per day as recorded on the National Quality Agenda IT System (NQAITS), and you expect to have a licence for 25 children per day after the minor capital works project, your proposed increase in preschool places is 5. 

You should carefully consider the space planning guidelines and regulatory requirements for Early Childhood Education services (see support for preparing a grant application) to ensure the increase you are proposing is feasible, noting you will be required to provide evidence in this regard.

For those in a community preschool setting, please note that all questions about preschool places refer to your licence or per day places as per NQAITS, and not 600-hour or “per week” places. 

For those in a not-for-profit long day care or multipurpose setting, please note that references to preschool places refers to approved number of per day places dedicated exclusively for enrolments of preschool-aged children participating in a preschool program.

Please refer to the Minor Capital Fund Program Guidelines which will be on the department website in the new future, for further information regarding these definitions

If you are a multipurpose service or a not-for-profit long day care service running a preschool program, please clearly identify on your application what the current split between places for preschool-aged children undergoing a preschool program and non-preschool places is, and the places you intend to deliver for each service type. The Minor Capital Fund will only fund the portion of increase in places dedicated to the delivery of a preschool education program for preschool-aged children in your existing multipurpose or long day care service.

If there is a portion of the build that will not be used primarily for preschool provision (e.g. rooms allocated to community or health services), these spaces will not be included in the calculation of increase preschool places. 

Value for money is determined by looking at the total benefit and the total cost of your proposed project.

When reviewing the cost of your project, the department will consider the “cost per place”. This is calculated by dividing the grant amount requested from the department, excluding GST, by the number of additional preschool places you intend to create. 

If your project has a lower cost per place, this may positively impact your value for money assessment. Noting that the benefits of your project will be considered along with cost.

To clearly ascertain the cost and value for money of your project it is vital that:

  • your application is complete;

  • your proposal clearly outlines the number of preschool places per day you intend to create. For the purposes of this grant, the increase in preschool places must be the number of preschool places you intend to deliver once the capital works project is complete. Please consider the spaces and regulatory requirements (see Support preparing a grant application) for increasing preschool places to ensure the proposed increase is feasible;

  • you provide 1 quote obtained in the past 4 months to substantiate your claims; and,

  • you provide a clear budget that outlines all the financial elements of your project (grant amount, provider contribution, other sources of funding if any and total cost of the project). All figures must exclude GST and must be consistent throughout the application. 

To improve the value for money of your application you can:

  • test the market by seeking multiple itemised quotes for your project;

  • reduce the grant amount by increasing the provider contribution or seeking external sources of funding;

  • reduce the grant amount by removing non-essential elements of your design, revising the types of materials used in your build or ensuring you are not seeking funding for non-eligible elements as per the fund guidelines; and/or,

 

  • reduce the cost per place of your project by maintaining the grant amount, but increasing the number of preschool places per day your project can deliver.

When calculating the number of preschool places that can be created with your project you must take into consideration the space and regulatory requirements for Early Childhood Education services (see support for preparing a grant application). You will be required to provide evidence as to how you calculated the proposed increase in line with regulatory requirements.

 

The maximum grant amount is $100,000 excluding GST.

Refer to the Minor Capital Fund Guidelines, which will be available on the website in the near future, for a list of elements which can and cannot be funded by the grant.

Please note submitting a quote obtained in the past 4 months is a requirement to assess the value for money of your project. At least one recent quote for the work to be undertaken must be included in your application. 

Applicants should contact the department if they are unable to obtain the required quotes. In exceptional circumstances this requirement may be waived. 

Funds are released as each milestone is achieved. The first milestone payment cannot be released until the Funding Agreement has been negotiated and fully executed by all parties. 

The grant is paid in instalments in accordance with project milestones. The grant type and total project cost will determine the number of project milestones and payments. 

For example, if you have 2 project milestones then you will be paid: 

  • 70% for milestone 1 

  • 30% for milestone 2.

You are required to submit progress reports and evidence to the department when you complete a project milestone. The department will send you the progress report template to complete at the appropriate time. The department will assess the progress report and if it is satisfactory, will arrange payment of that milestone. Evidence should include any relevant approvals, reports or certificates related to the capital works, before and after photos and itemised invoices.

If you experience unexpected delays please contact the Capital Programs team as soon as possible. Please note that as per the Terms and Conditions grant recipients are responsible for any shortfalls in funding or overruns that may arise.

Any requests for extension to the project timeframes will be considered by the department in accordance with the provisions in the Funding Agreement. At a high level, such requests will generally involve:

  • the grant recipient contacting the Department immediately upon identifying that they may not meet the timeframes for project delivery; and

  • the grant recipient being required to provide detailed written evidence that explains the reason for the delay and demonstrates that the project will be completed within the additional time requested.

Grant recipients must note that timeframe extensions may not be approved, and that excessive delays may ultimately result in the department recommending to the Minister withdrawal of the funding commitment.

For all grants provided under the Minor Capital Fund, service approval must be obtained for the additional approved places within 12 months of project completion. 

For further information on the Approvals Process please visit the Department’s website or contact the Department’s Quality Assessment and Regulation Services on 1800 619 113 (toll free) or by emailing ececd@det.nsw.edu.au.

Mobile Fund FAQs

The Mobile Fund has been available under the Start Strong Capital Works Grant Program to allow applicants to purchase replacement vehicles for their mobile services in the past.

The 2022 SSCW grant program also enables eligible providers to purchase additional vehicles for their mobile service if it will result in an expansion of service delivery.

The Mobile Fund is separate from Department of Education’s Mobile Preschool Funding Program which provides funding for the provision of preschool education delivered for the 2 years before school to children enrolled in mobile preschools in regional and remote NSW.

Mobile grants can be used to purchase a new vehicle that will be primarily used to deliver preschool education services. 

The grant cannot fund a vehicle that:

  • is going to be used as a transportation service/for the purpose of transporting children; or,

  • is not going to be used primarily to deliver a preschool education e.g. running errands, playgroups etc. 

Refer to the Mobile Fund Guidelines for a list of what can and cannot be funded by the grant.

You are not eligible to apply if you are not currently funded by the NSW Department of Education as a mobile preschool.

You must provide two quotes obtained within the past 4 months with your application. 

Applicants should contact the department if they are unable to obtain 2 quotes. In exceptional circumstances this requirement may be waived. 

Mobile services can apply for more than one new vehicle. One application is required per vehicle. 

While there is no maximum grant amount for the Mobile Fund, the Assessment Panel will consider value for money when assessing your grant application.  

The department will consider the cost of the vehicle and the benefit of the proposed project to determine value for money. 

To remain eligible for funding, you must not enter into a contract or purchase the vehicle proposed in your application before executing the Funding Agreement.

Funds are released in one payment once the Funding Agreement has been negotiated and fully executed by all parties.

If you experience unexpected delays please contact the Capital Programs Team as soon as possible. Please note that as per the funding Terms and Conditions, the Approved Funded Provider is responsible for any shortfalls in funding or overruns that may arise.

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