Start Strong Capital Works Grants Program
The Start Strong Capital Works Grants Program improves access to preschool by creating additional preschool places in areas of need and demand across the state.
Eligible not-for-profit organisations can apply for grant funding to build, renovate or extend their facilities to deliver preschool education to preschool-aged children in a centre-based setting, respond to a crisis situation, or to purchase a vehicle for a mobile preschool.
The Start Strong Capital Works Grants Program is one of many funded programs that the department is implementing to ensure that all children in NSW can participate in 600 hours of quality preschool education in the year before school, no matter where they live or what their circumstances are.
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.
The Start Strong Capital Works Grants Program has been revised to improve the suitability and accessibility of the program for the community preschool sector. This includes four distinct grant categories with continuous, extended or multiple rounds, making it easier for community preschool providers to access the right funding option when it is needed.
Eligible not-for-profit organisations can apply for funding through the following Funds:
- Major Capital Fund: supports the creation of additional preschool places through new builds, extensions or renovations of centre-based preschools that offer preschool education to preschool-aged children in areas of need and demand.
- Crisis Fund: aims to respond to a crisis with capital works to ensure service continuity for providers impacted by exceptional and unforeseen circumstances, supports access to preschool education in remote and very remote areas of NSW and increases the number of Aboriginal preschool services across the state.
- Minor Capital Fund: provides grants of up to $100,000 (ex GST) to support smaller-scale renovations or refurbishments to increase preschools places, as well as the recalculation of unencumbered space that will lead to an increase in places without capital works.
- Mobile Fund: supports mobile preschool services to replace existing vehicles and/or to purchase additional vehicles to cater for increased demand.
Both the Major Capital and Minor Capital Funds will give priority to eligible applicants intending to undertake capital works in an area with a shortfall of preschool places as identified in the Fund Guidelines. However, please note that applicants outside of these shortfall areas are still strongly encouraged to submit an application if they meet the eligibility criteria. There will be an opportunity for applicants to submit additional information to substantiate need and demand in their area during the application process.
How to apply
The Start Strong Capital Works Grants Program is open to eligible not-for-profit organisations, including community preschools, not-for-profit long day care providers, existing mobile preschool service providers, Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, including Multifunctional Aboriginal Community Services (MACS) and local councils.
Each Fund has Guidelines that include detailed eligibility criteria and application requirements. As each Fund Round opens, these will become available on the following pages:
Open for applications until 30 June 2023.
Visit the Crisis Fund webpage for more information.
Major Capital Fund
Round 1: was open from 4 October to 14 November 2022 (for community preschools only).
Round 2: was open from 6 February to 2 April 2023 (expanded eligibility for community preschools and long day care services offering a preschool program).
Round 3: open from 3 April to 14 May 2023 (expanded eligibility for community preschools and long day care services offering a preschool program).
Visit the Major Capital Fund webpage for more information.
Minor Capital Fund
Round 1: was open from 24 October to December 2022 (for community preschools only).
Round 2: open from 3 April to 14 May 2023 (expanded eligibility for community preschools and long day care services offering a preschool program).
Visit the Minor Capital Fund webpage for more information.
Was open from 6 February to 2 April 2023 (for mobile preschools only).
Visit the Mobile Fund webpage for more information.
Support for grant applicants
A range of resources are available to support applicants in preparing a grant application, including:
- Frequently asked questions
- Fund guidelines
- Fund application guidelines
- Webinars - information about these are on the Support for Preparing an Application page.
Additional support is available for targeted groups to scope their capital works project and prepare a grant application. These applicants may be eligible for one-on-one assistance from Community Connections Solutions Australia and financial assistance for eligible expenses required for the purposes of gathering key documentation for their submission. Further information and the eligibility criteria for this support package is available in the Application Support Guidelines.
600 hour enrolment – an enrolment in an early childhood education program that is offered for at least 600 hours per year or 15 hours per week.
Australian Charities & Not-for-profies Commission (ACNC) – the national regulator of charities and not for profit entities. The ACNC Charity register shows details about a charity’s operations and the names of the people involved in running the charity.
AFP or Approved Funded Provider – an organisation approved to receive a grant of funding under the Program and who is a party to the Funding Agreement.
AMU or Asset Management Unit - a business area within School Infrastructure NSW (SINSW). AMU provides day to day advice to schools including maintenance program planning and delivery, and capital works projects planning and delivery.
Application Support - the financial and non-financial assistance, funded by the Department, for eligible organisations to scope a capital works project and prepare a grant application.
Approved number of places/licensed places - the maximum number of children that can be educated and cared for by the centre-based service at any one time, stated on the service approval and published in NQAITS.
ARIA - the Accessibility and Remoteness Index of Australia which divides Australia into five classes of remoteness based on a measure of relative access to services. Remoteness Structure.
Authorised Person - a person who holds a position in a not-for-profit organisation that gives them authority to declare and sign documents, as per the Australian Charities and Not-for profits Commission (ACNC) website.https://www.acnc.gov.au/charity/charities If the Authorised Persons for your organisation are outdated, steps should be taken as a priority to update that information with ACNC.
Building Practitioner - the definition of a building practitioner is defined as the following in the Education and Care Services National regulations:
- a person who is registered as a building surveyor, building inspector or draftsperson under a law of a participating jurisdiction; or,
- a person who is registered as an architect under a law of a participating jurisdiction; or
- a person who is licensed as a surveyor under a law of a participating jurisdiction; or
- a person who is licensed or registered as a building certifier under a law of a participating jurisdiction; or
- a person who is accredited under a law of a participating jurisdiction to design buildings that will be used to provide education and care services.
Capital works – the term refers to construction related additions or improvements to an existing premises or new build construction activities. The capital works activity will either directly contribute to the delivery of a new preschool premises or to the expansion of an existing preschool premises.
Capital Works Site - the address at which the capital works will take place and be completed.
Cost per Preschool Place (CPP) - a metric used by the Department to assess Value For Money (VFM). Under the Major and Minor Capital Funds, CPP is calculated by dividing the Grant Amount by the number of Preschool Places to be created. Under the Crisis Fund, CPP is calculated by dividing the Grant Amount by the number of Preschool Places to be maintained (and created – if applicable).
DA - ideally a Development Application approval from your local council should be included with your application to ensure your capital works project complies with the applicable NSW state government code. If not included on your application, it will be required at a later stage.
Funding Agreement - a legal document that confirms the Terms and Conditions of the grant award. The Funding Agreement contains the Funding Specification.
Funding Guidelines - provide comprehensive information regarding the eligibility and application requirements for each Fund.
Funding Specification - forms part of the Funding Agreement and contains various project specific requirements (e.g. Project Description, Project Plan with milestones, Project reporting requirements, security requirements). It includes any document referred to in it.
Grant Amount - the amount of grant funding provided by the Department of Education. The grant amount is exclusive of GST.
Grant Confirmation Letter - the letter issued by the department to the AFP setting out the grant amount, the nature of the security to be provided to the department and/or any other requirements that the AFP must comply with in order to secure the acquittal of funding. The letter is issued after the AFP has returned the signed Terms and Conditions and the Project has been approved by the department.
Licensed places/Approved number of places - the maximum number of children that can be educated and cared for by a centre-based service at any one time, stated on the service approval and published in NQAITS.
Milestone - a marker in a capital project that signifies a change or stage in development. For example ‘approval of development application’.
Multipurpose Centre - provides a range of services in one location. For example, a centre could run a family day care service and a community preschool service.
NQAITS - the National Quality Framework, which sets out the minimum qualification, and educator to child ratio requirements, for children's education and care services.
NQS - the National Quality Standard sits under the NQF and sets a high national benchmark for early childhood education and care and outside school hours care services in Australia.
ORIC - the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations is a regulatory body for Indigenous Corporations.
Other Sources of Funding - this may include other grants or donations from private or public entities, or in-kind services.
Professional Plan(s) - drawings of the proposed capital project prepared by a certified building practitioner.
Preschool-aged child - children in the two years before school, or three-year-old children who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, or three-year-old children with disability or additional needs, or from low-income families.
Preschool places - for the purposes of the Start Strong Capital Works Grants Program, ‘preschool places’ refers to approved licensed places dedicated for enrolments of preschool-aged children participating in a preschool education program delivered by a qualified early childhood teacher.
Preschool education program - an early childhood educational program delivered by a qualified early childhood teacher to preschool-aged childrenl, for at least 600 hours per year or 15 hours per week.
Procurement - the process of obtaining a product or service to deliver the capital works project. For example, the process of deciding and selecting a contractor, builder or project manager for the design and construction of your project.
Provider - a registered not for profit entity with a registered PR number on NQAITS.
Provider Contribution - this refers to the sources of income the Provider contributes to the capital works project. Applicants are encouraged to contribute at least 5% of the total project cost of the project with provider contribution, but this may be waived for Crisis Fund applications at the discretion of the department.
Security Instrument - a form of guarantee that 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. This may involve third parties such as a landlord or local council depending on your circumstances.
SEIFA - the Socio-economic Index for Areas Score that indicates how advantaged or disadvantaged areas are based on socioeconomic factors such as income, education, employment and skills/occupations. The lower the score or band, the more disadvantaged that area is. SEIFA by Local Government Area (LGA)
SINSW - School Infrastructure NSW is responsible for delivering capital works on school sites that aim to provide access to high quality education facilities across NSW for all school-aged children.
Start Strong - the NSW Government commitment to ensure that all children in New South Wales can participate in 600 hours of quality preschool education in the year before school, no matter where they live or what their circumstances are.
Total Project Cost - is the total project expenditure amount to deliver the capital works project. The total project cost for the capital works project also includes the project management, professional fees, builder and construction contingency, provider contingency and administrate expenses where applicable.
Unencumbered Space - is floor space that is not encumbered by furnishings or fixtures. As detailed in the Education and Care Services National Regulations, unencumbered space determines the number of licenced preschool places a service may offer per day.
For more information about the Start Strong Capital Works Grants Program, please contact:
Early Childhood Education Directorate
1800 619 113 (toll free)