2021 Major Capital Fund Guidelines

1. Major Capital Works Fund overview

The Start Strong Capital Works Grant Program aims to improve access to preschool by creating additional community preschool places in areas of need and demand across the state.

The Major Capital Works Fund supports the creation of additional community preschool places through new builds, extensions and renovations of centre-based community preschools in areas of need and demand.

Expressions of Interest (EOI) for grant funding will be received and assessed on an ongoing basis from 6 October 2021 until 4 March 2022, or until funds are exhausted. The application assessment process will be conducted for applications received by each of the following dates:

  • Trache 1: 5 December 2021
  • Trache 2: 6 February 2022
  • Trache 3: 4 March 2022.

Applicants will be notified as soon as practicable following the assessment outcome. During the assessment process, the Department may request additional information from applicants. Advice may be sought from other NSW government agencies or other third parties (such as probity advisors), to assist with the assessment of applications.

Part-funding of applications may be recommended where there is insufficient funding available. It may also be recommended either that:

(a) only a component of the project is considered suitable for funding or
(b) a lesser funding amount than the amount requested is deemed appropriate.

1.1 Purpose and objectives

The Fund is part of the Start Strong Capital Works Grant Program commitment to increase the number of community preschool places in NSW in areas of need and demand.

An increase in community preschool places is an expected outcome of a Major Capital Works grant.

Approved funded providers must also contribute to the following objectives:

  • Maximise the number of community preschool places available.
  • Where possible, leverage funds from sources external to the Department, including private finance, charitable donations and grants from state and federal government.
  • Ensure the continued operation of the service to deliver community preschool places throughout the ten-year compliance period.
  • Support ongoing management of the service in line with applicable regulatory requirements.

1.2 Project completion

Major capital works projects must be completed and acquitted within 24 months of the funding agreement being executed. Funding agreements must be signed by an authorised officer in the applying organisation no later than four weeks after receipt.

If you have concerns about these timeframes, please contact the Capital Programs Team on capital.works@det.nsw.edu.au or 1800 619 113 prior to submitting your application, to discuss the timeline of your project. Adjustments to this timeline may be considered where there is evidence of exceptional circumstances. If you don’t think the project will be able to be delivered in this time, you may wish to apply at a later date.

2. What can (and cannot) be funded

There are items that you can and cannot include in project cost estimates in your Major Capital Works Fund application. The elements that cannot be funded by the grant must be covered by the service provider or other sources of funding.

  • project management costs
  • planning and design costs
  • soil hygienist reports
  • site preparation, including clearing or demolition
  • construction and commissioning
  • landscaping and car parking
  • fixed fittings and fixed equipment
  • removal of contaminates on project sites (e.g. asbestos/arsenic), as long as it is within scope of the State’s financial contribution to the project.
  • site acquisition and lease costs
  • routine or cyclical maintenance works
  • spaces not used primarily for the delivery of community preschool education (e.g. rooms for community or health services)
  • purchase of cars, buses and other vehicles
  • ongoing administration or operational costs
  • staff salaries and training
  • toys, playground equipment, portable equipment and consumables
  • cosmetic upgrades that do not increase capacity
  • additional funding due to project cost overruns.

The Major Capital Works Fund will not fund projects that:

  • do not create additional community preschool places;
  • are located outside NSW;
  • are submitted by a for-profit organisation or association, including a sole trader or a Pty Ltd company;
  • do not align with the program objectives;
  • do not meet the requirements outlined in these guidelines;
  • do not meet the assessment criteria;
  • have already been completed (i.e. retrospective funding);
  • have already been funded by the Start Strong Capital Works Grants Program (i.e. the preschool places committed cannot be funded twice); or
  • duplicate project elements already funded through another source (i.e. where another grant is funding the same element/s).

3. Who can apply?

To be eligible for funding applicants must:

  • be registered or incorporated in NSW;
  • be a not for profit organisation or association, or a local government entity; and
  • operate or intend to operate a community preschool service as an Approved Provider with a valid Service Approval.

For-profit organisations cannot apply for Major Capital Works grants.

Long day care providers running a preschool program are not eligible to apply. Delivering a preschool program within a long day care is not the same as operating a community preschool service.

Existing multipurpose providers operating both a long day care and community preschool service may seek funding under this program to increase places for community preschool service only.

4. Assessment

Applications will be competitively assessed against the assessment criteria and will be assessed in two stages:

Stage 1: Expression of interest

The main purpose of the Expression of Interest (EOI) stage is to assess whether the project meets eligibility requirements and will deliver expected outcomes. Applications will also be assessed individually for high level alignment against the assessment criteria. EOI applicants need to provide high level information against the criteria for this to be conducted (refer to the checklist below)..

Only thos applicants who meet the eligibility requirements and high level alignment with the assessment criteria will be invited to participate in Stage 2..

Stage 2: Invitation to apply

Stage 2 is the formal application stage for eligible applications. Applicants are required to complete a detailed application against the assessment criteria as the basis for seeking final funding approval.

Applications for both stages must be submitted via SmartyGrants by an authorised officer.

The submission of an application at Stage 2 does not guarantee funding. Funding requests will be assessed on a case by case basis in line with these guidelines and may be declined.

Assessment criteria

Eligible applications will be competitively assessed according to the following assessment criteria:

  1. Increase in preschool places in areas of need and growing demand. Areas that can demonstrate a shortage in preschool places and/or have a low SEIFA index will be prioritised.
  2. Accessibility and Inclusion. The project will provide and/or improve the provision of a culturally safe and appropriate educational setting for equity children (Aboriginal children, children with disability and additional needs, and children from low income families).
  3. Capacity and capability for delivery. The applicant needs to demonstrate readiness to proceed with the project and capability to deliver the capital works with acceptable or tolerable risks.
  4. Overall quality and completeness of the application. The applicant needs to present a well-developed proposal and put forward a suitable solution to meet the objectives of the program.
  5. Value for money. The cost of the project is within the agreed benchmarks for the funding category and any other attenuating factors that may impact the cost of the project have been considered.

Past performance

We will review your past performance and assess whether it is likely to have an impact on successful delivery of your project. This will include considering whether you have:

  • taken appropriate steps to deliver previous projects funded through the Start Strong Capital Works Grant Program within appropriate timeframes (where applicable);
  • overdue projects funded by the Department and whether extensions have been requested and approved; and/or
  • completed projects funded by the Department and whether you have submitted all documentation required to acquit the grant funding, including regular monthly reporting and acquittal within the contracted time frame.

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

5. Funding conditions

Organisations that receive a grant must:

  • agree to the requirements outlined in these guidelines. Failure to do so may result in funding being withheld or an offer of funding being withdrawn;
  • contribute at least 5% of the total project cost;
  • agree to a security instrument as a precondition for funding;
  • enter into a Funding Agreement with the Department;
  • following the Funding Acknowledgement Guidelines for NSW Government infrastructure grants, including liaising with the Capital Programs team on events such as openings, and erecting signage for projects;
  • submit progress reports and required supporting evidence for approval by the Department upon completion of agreed milestones and completion of the project;
  • if the project is on a Departmental site, have a current licence agreement or lease to operate the service for a ten-year period; and
  • agree that no additional State funding will be allocated to the proposed project, including where there are cost overruns, and if additional costs arise, they must be met by the applicant.

ECE facilities funded through a Major Capital Works grant must:

  • be operated by an organisation that is approved to provide early childhood education services in NSW or that intends to obtain necessary provider approvals. For new providers, grant award will be contingent on provider approval being obtained;
  • offer or intend to offer a centre based community preschool service with a valid service approval;
  • operate a community preschool service for at least ten years from when the project is completed. The places funded by this grant must be available to the community as community preschool places for a ten year period; and
  • comply with the requirements of applicable national and state laws and regulations.

Please note that progressing through the submission of a Stage 1 (Expression of Interest) to Stage 2 (Invitation to Apply) and participating in Stage 2 does not guarantee funding.

You must not enter into a contract or commence any works proposed in your application until you have executed a Funding Agreement with the Department. Approved applicants that proceed with works prior to executing the Funding Agreement do so at their own risk. The Department will not fund completed projects.

The Funding Agreement cannot be executed or funds paid until a security instrument has been agreed and executed with the Department. For more information on the security instrument requirements please refer to the Security Instrument Fact Sheet.

These documents will clarify your obligations if you succeed in receiving Capital Works Program funding. They are available on the Department’s website.

All projects are expected to adhere to relevant building guidelines and regulations.

6. Project management requirements

A suitable project manager must be identified at the time of the Stage 2 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 managers 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.

7. Project reporting requirements

As a condition of grant funding, successful applicants must comply with project monitoring and reporting requirements, including:

  • submitting milestone progress reports and required evidence when milestones have been met;
  • advising the Department in advance of key milestones including but not limited to architect appointment, design completion, sod turn and construction completion and providing opportunities for public communication of these milestones;
  • advising the Department of scope changes (relating to time, cost and project scope) by completing and submitting a variation form;
  • attending site inspections, meetings and teleconferences with Department staff or representatives if required; and
  • providing copies of building contracts, receipts and/or invoices when requested.

8. Project timeframe extensions

Successful applicants must contact the Department immediately upon identifying that they may not meet the timeframes for project delivery. Applicants will be required to complete a variation form providing detailed evidence that explains the reason for the delay and demonstrates how the project will be completed within the additional time requested.

Timeframe extensions are not guaranteed to be approved. Excessive delays may ultimately result in the Department recommending to the Minister to withdrawing the funding commitment.

9. Service approvals

For all grants provided under the Major Capital Works Fund, you will need to obtain approval 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.

10. Acquittal requirements

All successful applicants are required to complete the following requirements and submit a Final Works Report to the Department to acquit their funding. The Final Works report must be signed and dated by two authorised representatives and include the following information

  • certificate of final completion;
  • certificate of occupancy;
  • final project expenditure list;
  • letter of service approval, including licensed places or evidence that an application to amend service approval has been lodged; and
  • photos of completed project.

11. How to apply

Applications (for both Stages) for funding will be received and assessed from 6 October 2021 until 4 March 2022 or until funds are exhausted.

Application forms can be accessed online at SmartyGrants.

Applicants must register to use the SmartyGrants application system. Registration is a free and straightforward process.

For assistance with the online application system, please contact the Smarty Grants Support Desk by phone on (03) 9320 6888 between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday or email service@smartygrants.com.au. It is strongly recommended that you download the same application form from SmartyGrants and the Application Guide provided on our website as soon as possible so that you can become familiar with the information required. You can also find information via the guide and Frequently Asked Questions.

All sections must be completed, and the application form submitted to be considered for funding. Changes can be made to an application any time until it is submitted.

12. Projects on departmental sites

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

For further information in relation to your current licence agreement or lease, please contact Schools Infrastructure NSW on preschools.sinsw@det.nsw.edu.au.

13. Application checklist

Stage 1: Expression of Interest

Applicants will be required to provide:

  • a description of the project based on chosen category and its impact on the service/community.
  • confirmation of need and demand in your area.
  • an outline of the project/works, including a timeline for delivery.
  • confirmation of the number of licenced places that will be created with your project (specifying the number of new places if the works are for an existing service).
  • an outline of your project budget and requested funding amount (excluding GST), including provider contribution.
  • at least 1 quote obtained in the past 6 months to substantiate your budget.
  • confirmation that the project will provide and/or improve the provision of a culturally safe and appropriate educational setting for equity children (Aboriginal children, children with disability or additional needs, and children from low income families).
  • confirmation of readiness to proceed with the project, which may include details of site ownership, formal lease or other leasing agreements for the proposed site for a ten year period and support from all stakeholders involved in the delivery of your project.

Applicants will also need to provide evidence of:

  • Provider approval or intent to obtain Provider Approval within the required 12 month timeframe.
  • Service approval or intent to obtain Service Approval within the required timeframe.
  • registration or incorporation in NSW.
  • status as not for profit or a local government entity.

Stage 2: Invitation to apply

Applicants assessed as eligible in Stage 1 who are invited to participate in Stage 2 will be required to provide:

  • a detailed project plan, risk assessment for your project and expected timeline.
  • a project description, including concept/ building design plans and final scope of works.
  • an itemised project budget, including the applicant’s contribution and additional sources of funding for the project, if any.
  • at least 2 quotes obtained in the past 6 months that reflect the final design of the capital works project. Applicants should contact the Department if they are unable to obtain 2 quotes. In exceptional circumstances this requirement may be waived.
  • confirmation of the number of preschool places that will be created with the final design of the capital works project.
  • description and/or evidence on how the applicant estimated the number of places to be increased or to obtain a service approval for the intended number of preschool places in line with regulatory requirements (e.g. floor plans referencing floor space ratios).
  • a description and supporting evidence detailing how the project will provide and/or improve the provision of a culturally safe and appropriate educational setting for equity children (Aboriginal children, children with disability and additional needs, and children from low income families).
  • evidence that the applicant is able to proceed with the proposed capital works project on the site including, but not limited to:
    • Evidence of site ownership or formal lease or other leasing agreements for the site for a ten year period.
    • Evidence that you have discussed the security instrument requirement as a precondition for funding with all relevant parties (your committee, landlord, lessor, or SINSW as applicable).
    • Evidence that you have support from all affected stakeholders and delivery partners (your landlord, Council, committee, other funding bodies, etc).
    • Information and evidence of other sources of funding, if any, and proof of funds for the provider contribution.
  • Evidence that there is need and demand in your area.

Applicants may request detailed feedback on the outcome of their Stage 1 or Stage 2 applications.

Applicants who have complaints about any aspect of the application and assessment process may submit their issue in writing at: capital.works@det.nsw.edu.au.

14. Contact details

For more information about the Start Strong Capital Works Grant Program please contact the Early Childhood Education Programs Directorate by phone or email.

Ph. 1800 619 113

Email: capital.works@det.nsw.edu.au


  • Early childhood education

Business Unit:

  • Early Childhood Outcomes
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