Disability and Inclusion Program

Key Updates

High Learning Support Needs

  • New applications are required for all children. This includes all children who were funded in 2021 – See Section 4.
  • Eligible HLSN applications supported by a written diagnosis and/or developmental assessment, received on or after 1 July, will receive up to 300 hours of funding support. Where exceptional circumstances mean that the child’s participation could be supported by greater than 300 hours in the final six months of the year, funding may be adjusted on a case-by-case basis – See Section 5.1
  • Priority payments will be considered for applications that indicate safety concerns and are submitted within the first four weeks of the Quarter 2, 3 or 4 application periods – See Section 5.2

Minor Capital Works

  • Preschools applying for funding for equipment/furniture are now required to confirm that there is sufficient space for these items – See Section 4.

1. Purpose

The Disability and Inclusion Program provides funding and support to enable children with disability and additional needs in community preschools to participate in a quality early childhood education program on the same basis as their peers.

Research and data show:

  • In NSW, the proportion of all children enrolled in a preschool program aged 3 – 5 years with a disability is 7.6%.[1]
  • About 85 per cent of community preschool educators work with a child with disability.[2]
  • Children who participate in a quality early childhood education program for at least 600 hours in the year before school are more likely to arrive at school equipped with the social, cognitive and emotional skills they need to engage in learning.
  • Research shows that most children with disability will benefit from inclusive early childhood education, including greater engagement with peers and positive effects on play and behaviour. [3]

This program is consistent with:

This program aims to:

  • Increase the capacity of the early childhood education sector to include children with disability and additional needs on the same basis as their peers.
  • Support equitable education outcomes for children with disability and additional needs during their attendance at preschool and as they transition to school.
  • Align with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in NSW (the NDIS provides functional supports, and this program provides educational supports).
  • Target funding to children who have high learning support needs.

The Disability and Inclusion Program is complemented by Start Strong funding for community preschools.

Under Start Strong, preschools are required to provide priority of access to a quality preschool program to children with disability and additional needs. Start Strong equity funding is also available for children with disability and additional needs.

2. Service Eligibility Criteria

The Disability and Inclusion Program is for community preschools that meet all of the following criteria.

Preschools must:

  • Be a not-for-profit, centre-based or mobile preschool
  • Be an approved early childhood education and care service under the National Law and Regulations
  • Be delivering an early childhood education program designed by a degree-qualified early childhood teacher in accordance with the Early Years Learning Framework (providing a structured, play-based early childhood education) under the National Partnership Agreement on Early Childhood Education
  • Have accepted the Early Childhood Education Grants Programs Terms and Conditions and be in receipt of funding under Start Strong Funding for centre-based community preschools or a mobile contract for mobile preschools.

3. Program Components

There are four program components of the Disability and Inclusion Program:

  1. High Learning Support Needs (HLSN) funding
  2. Minor Capital Works (MCW) funding
  3. Sector Capacity Building program
  4. Early Childhood Inclusive Education Scholarships
Program Component Description Component Guidelines / More Information

High Learning Support Needs

Funding for children with high learning support needs is provided to develop and deliver each child’s Individual Learning Plan (ILP). View the 2022 High Learning Support Needs Funding Guidelines

Minor Capital Works

Funding for minor environment adjustments and specialised educational equipment/furniture View the 2022 Minor Capital Works Funding Guidelines

Sector Capacity Building program

A training and support program for preschool staff, delivered by Early Childhood Intervention Services.

Arrangements for the 2022 Sector Capacity Building program are currently under consideration.


Information about the 2021 Sector Capacity Building program arrangements can be found here.

Early Childhood Inclusive Education Scholarships

A new scholarship program that will focus on inclusive and special education within the early childhood education context.

The program is currently under development and services will be notified when applications open.

The department also provides free training and professional development through the Sector Development Program. For information on the latest courses, please visit the department’s website.

4. Program Evaluation

An evaluation of the Disability and Inclusion Program is currently underway and will be completed in 2022. This evaluation will focus on the High Learning Support Needs and Sector Capacity Building components of the Disability and Inclusion Program.

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