Disability and Inclusion Program

1. Purpose

The Disability and Inclusion Program provides funding and support to enable children with disability or additional needs in not-for-profit community preschools to participate in a quality early childhood education program on the same basis as their peers.

Research and data show:

  • in NSW, 8.7% of all children enrolled in a preschool program in 2020 aged 4-5 years old were children with disability
  • about 85 per cent of community preschool educators work with a child with disability
  • 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
  • most children with disability will benefit from inclusive early childhood education, including greater engagement with peers and positive effects on play and behaviour.

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 support, and this program provides educational support)
  • target funding to children who have high learning support needs.

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

2. Service eligibility criteria

The Disability and Inclusion Program is available only for community preschools (including mobile preschools) receiving NSW Start Strong for Community Preschools funding.

3. Program components

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

Program Component Description Component Guiudelines/ 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 2024 High Learning Support Needs Guidelines
Inclusive Environments (previously Minor Capital Works) Funding for minor environment adjustments and specialised educational equipment/furniture. View the 2024 Inclusive Environments Guidelines
Sector Capacity Building Program

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

View the 2024 Sector Capacity Building Program Guidelines
Early Childhood Inclusive Education Scholarships A scholarship program for early childhood teachers to undertake a postgraduate qualification in Early Childhood Inclusive Education. View information about the Early Childhood Inclusive Education Scholarship program

Learn more about the 2024 Disability and Inclusion Program program guidelines

- So thank you everyone for joining the session today. We will be providing an overview in today's webinar on the New South Wales Disability and Inclusion Program Guidelines, or DIP, for 2024. As you may have seen, we have made some changes to program guidelines this year driven both by feedback from community preschools and findings from the program evaluation. So if you're joining us today, I just want to explain that this program, the Disability Inclusion Program, is relevant for New South Wales community preschools. So if you work at another type of early childhood education and care service, such as long daycare or family daycare or outside-of-school hours care service, then the program that will be most relevant to you is the Australian Government's Inclusion Support program. So I believe that one of my colleagues is just for you so that you can have a look at that program. But we will be focusing today on community preschools in New South Wales. So just with that little bit of introduction, as we kick off the morning, I would like to start with an acknowledgement if we could just move the slides along. So I would like to acknowledge that we're all joining today from a range of Aboriginal lands. I'm on Gadigal land today and I would like to pay respect to Aboriginal Elders past and present. And as we just start our meeting and we situate ourselves in the content that we're going to work through, I'd encourage all of us to hold at the forefront of our minds the Jarjums, so young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in this case, who will be emerging as Elders of the future. Thank you. I'm just going to start with a little bit of housekeeping. We might just have a little bit of a delay in the slides there. Sorry, everybody. So just want to walk through a couple of things just as we kick off in terms of housekeeping. So probably just some introductions actually to start with. I'm Kristie Brown.

So I'm the Director of Access and Inclusion at the Department of Education, part of the Early Childhood Outcomes Branch. And I'm joined today and your primary presenters are going to be Sue Stuart-Watt, who is the Manager of the Disability Inclusion team. Sue, if you want to give us a wave, if you've got your video working. And also Monique Dam who'll be presenting and she is one of our Senior Policy Officers in the team. I also have a number of colleagues from the team who, like anything, work often in the background to make things happen. So I just want to call them out because they're worth acknowledging. So thank you to Naomi Mamolis, John Ross, Yae Kim, and Josie Smith. So they will be looking to answer as many questions as possible in the Q&A, either throughout the session or at the end. Now I'll flip to a little bit of housekeeping. So as I said, the New South Wales Disability and Inclusion program is for New South Wales community and mobile preschools. So that's the arrangements that we're talking through today are directly relevant for that service type. If you work at another type of ECEC service, such as a long daycare, family daycare, or outside of school hours care service, then you may be eligible for the Australian Government's Inclusion Support program, or ISP. So there'll be some information in the chat on that program. You're very welcome to stay and hear about this program, but it won't be directly relevant to you in terms of your current operating context. You need to go to the ISP if you've got questions around funding and support for disability and inclusion in your service types. A little bit more housekeeping, sorry, and then we'll get into the primary information. So we have disabled or turned off the mic, video, and chat functions for the webinar, but you can ask questions via the Q&A function. So the Q&A function will, depending on how you've got your Zoom set up, it should be at the bottom of your screen. So there's a Q&A section there so you can post your questions there. We will be running, you know, a deeply democratic process around questions. You may notice that there's an up vote function for questions. And so this up vote function lets you in a sense give a like or add your support to a question that's been asked. And when it comes time to run through the Q&A at the end, we will look at those questions with the most up votes just because it lets us answer those questions where we know that people have a strong interest and there's a lot of interest. We will, as I said, also have some members of the team answering questions as we go. So some questions may be answered live, some may be answered through the chat function or through that Q&A function. And this is just so we can answer as many questions as possible. Remember that you can also, if for some reason we don't get to your question or if it's not a question that you would ask in an open forum, so if it's a specific question about a child or an application or your service, then you can call us on 1-800-619-113 or email us at the ECEC funding inbox. And I believe that there'll be some information on those contact details posted in the chat as well just so I don't have to try and read out web addresses and you don't have to scramble for pens. So please do contact us if you've got any questions either that we don't get to today or that you have as you read through the program guidelines or you start to make applications for this year. We will record the session today and we will upload it to the department's website along with the slides, conscious that often people come back and forward to this information as they work through the program and program arrangements for the year. So we'll make sure that that's loaded up there for you as a resource. Okay. I believe now I am going to hand over to my colleague Sue who's going to start talking us through the details around the Disability Inclusion program for this year. If we just want to flick the slides along. It might be a bit of a delay. There we go. And Sue, have we got you?

- You do. Can you hear me and see me?

- We can hear and see you.

- There you go.

- Excellent.

- I'm going to hand over to you.

- Wonderful.

- Thank you. Hello, everyone, and thank you for joining us this afternoon to find out a little bit more about the New South Wales DIP program for 2024. Just to start us off, I'm going to give a little bit of context before I head into the changes. And so just for all of us so that we're all understanding the program and the elements of the program, the slide that you're seeing now actually identifies the four main funding streams of the Disability Inclusion Program. We have our High Learning Support Needs component, which is for individual children and that funding is usually used for additional staffing establishment if required. We have the Inclusive Environments funding stream, which was formerly known as Minor Capital Works, and that's one of the changes that we're going to be speaking about a little bit later today. We have the Sector Capacity Building stream of funding, which is our providers of which there are 5 across New South Wales who work exclusively with our community-based preschools to assist you with your inclusion readiness and also to assist you to engage in the Disability Inclusion program. And then we also have a 4th funding stream, which we won't go into a lot of detail today, but inclusive scholarships which were opened last year. And so Josie is one of our team members is going to pop in the chat the link to the actual Disability Inclusion program so that if you wanted to find out a little bit more information, that's there for you. And then we're going to head onto the next slide, which is actually our first key change to the DIP program for 2024. There's a number of key changes and we're going to go through each of those incrementally for you and then hopefully answer your questions at the end of the webinar. And so our first key change is to the provisional, the introduction of a provisional prepayment of Quarter 1 2024 High Learning Support Needs funding. And so this is for eligible providers who can opt in for a provisional prepayment for children that were eligible for annual High Learning Support Needs funding in Quarter 4 of 2023 and for those children have been identified as returning in 2024. Now it is an opt-in process, so it's not compulsory. And so eligible services would have already received an email from us indicating that they're eligible to opt in for this provisional prepayment. Now the important thing to remember around this provisional prepayment is that you will still need to submit an individual application for the 2024 High Learning Support Needs children who are attending. We are aware that sometimes our families can indicate that the child is still enrolled and will still be enrolled in 2024, but then by the time we get to January/February on our return, those children may have moved on. And so it's important that if you have opted in for provisional prepayment that you notify us if a child isn't returning or hasn't returned and that you also put in an application, which we're going to talk about a little bit further on in the webinar. So looking at those blue boxes, the department that you can see on the slide, the department will contact eligible providers, which has already been done if you're an eligible provider. The provisional pre-payment is calculated based on the number of hours requested for continuing children for Quarter 1 in 2024. And the provisional prepayment will be made outside of the regular payment schedule. Providers are required to submit their opt-in form by the 10th of November, which is at the end of this week. So if you have received that opt-in email, we need you to respond by the 10th of November. To receive the provisional prepayment, providers must first sign the 2024 Early Education Funding Agreement Terms and Conditions in ECCMS and that will occur in the coming weeks. So you are going to respond to the opt-in if that's what you would like, you would like your provisional prepayment of Quarter 1 funding, and then you will go into ECCMS and you will sign the funding terms and conditions and then that will enable us to actually make the payment, which we are hoping will be paid in December. Payments will be received in December. Those payments, so the provisional prepayment, will be offset against payments made in quarters 1 to 3 of 2024. Any provisional, sorry, prepayment not subsequently approved for eligible 2024 High Learning Support Needs funding applications will be required to be returned as part of the Quarter 3 adjustments or refunds. And so to simplify this process, as you're aware, there's a number of different funding rounds throughout the year. The only change that we have made to those funding rounds and how they work is by introducing this provisional prepayment in November/December. And then, when we get to 2024, all of the funding rounds work in exactly the same way as they always have. So what we know is that providers will still need to submit that individual application for 2024 High Learning Support Needs funding. So you've opted in, your provisional, sorry, provisional prepayment has been approved, you receive money in December, the funding amount, and then you have until Friday the 8th of March, which is the normal cutoff date for our Quarter 2 applications, where you will actually need to have submitted the 2024 High Learning Support Needs application for the children that you received the prepayment for. And so in front of you now are some of those key dates for the provisional prepayment of the Quarter 1 2024 High Learning Support Needs funding. And so one of the key dates is obviously the opt-in form. Needs to be back to us by this Friday. You will need to sign the funding agreement terms and conditions by Friday, the 8th of December. So you've got quite a bit of time between submitting your opt-in form and actually needing to have signed the term, the funding terms and condition in ECCMS. And then you will need to submit individual applications for the children that you received the provisional prepayments for either by the Quarter 1 application cutoff date, which is the 8th of December of this year, or the Quarter 2 application cut off date, which is Friday, the 8th of March. And for those of you that may be wondering, I'm preempting that there might be some questions around, well, why did we introduce a provisional prepayment? And this was very much based on the feedback that we received from the sector around the difficulty in terms of retaining and maintaining consistency of staff for our children with high learning support needs and the surety of knowing whether funding would be available. So we're hoping by introducing a provisional prepayment that it will be able to assist services to make those decisions earlier and not need to wait until the January/February of the following year. So if we could flip to the next slide, please. So our second key change is that we have simplified the applications for continuing children. So this is not just for the children that you have applied for a provisional, provisional, excuse me, provisional prepayment for, but all returning children. So a simplified application will be available for children who were assessed as eligible for annual High Learning Support Needs funding in quarters one to 4 of 2023 and who continue to have high learning support needs in 2024. So the simplified applications for eligible children should still reflect the child's current functioning in the community preschool and must state the current adjustments and support requires. And these applications will be found in ECCMS. So how this will work is when you log into ECCMS to submit your High Learning Support Needs applications, you will find that applications for continuing children have been pre-populated. And what that means is the information that you submitted in 2023 will be rolled over and you will be able to see those in the 2024 application. You will not be able to alter any of the information that has been rolled over from 2023 to 2024. However, there will be the same questions that you will be able to actually then add additional information because we do need, as part of our grants funding administration guide, to actually show that applications have been assessed annually, which obviously means that applications have been assessed every year. And so these simplified applications we're hoping will reduce the administrative burden on a lot of you. We know it's a really, really busy time, the end of the year and the first quarter of the first year. Applications, when you do go into these applications, and you'll see these when you refer to the funding guidelines, what we are asking is that applications where information has been copied under those key questions, so we've got the application, we've got the application questions, we have an additional 4th question, which you haven't seen yet, but when you go into ECCMS, you will see. So we've got all of the standard information being carried forward and a 4th question, which is just asking you to verify the child's current level of functioning for 2024. And that information cannot be cut and pasted from previous applications. So it does need to be a new statement that may even paraphrase what was submitted in previous years, but it cannot be a copy and paste. So, again, as I've said, we're hoping that this will reduce the administrative burden. Can we pop to the next slide, please? And so these simplified applications, to be completed for new applications only. So the 3 questions will remain the same. So these are for your normal funding applications, for new children or children who were ineligible for funding in 2023. So this is your standard application. The three questions will remain the same. The 4th question that you can see on your slide to be completed only for returning children whose applications were eligible in 2023. And this is the 4th question that I was referring to previously. And it asks and explains to be eligible for High Learning Support Needs funding for 2024, current information needs to be provided to verify that the child continues to require constant and ongoing support and significant adjustments to enable participation in the preschool program on the same basis as their peers. This information cannot be copied and pasted from the child's 2023 application. And then we ask, please describe how this child is functioning in the preschool environment and the adjustments required to enable participation on the same basis as their peers in 2024. And so I'll leave that for now and I'm sure that we'll have some questions towards the end. If we can move on to key change 3, please. And key change 3, I'm actually going to hand over to Monique who is our Senior Policy Officer. Monique, are you there?

- Yes. Thank you, Sue. Hi, everyone. So we've also made some changes to what previously was called Minor Capital Works funding, which we have now renamed Inclusive Environments funding. We want to make it clearer that the scope of the program is broader than Minor Capital Works as it includes funding for the purchase of specialised equipment and furniture and minor environmental modifications. We also want to reduce confusion in the sector between this funding stream and the Start Strong Minor Capital Fund. The new name also reflects the broader scope of the 2024 program, which includes a trial of service-based inclusion readiness funding. And Josie is just going to post a link to the 2024 Inclusive Environments funding guidelines. Another key change is that from now on, applications for Inclusive Environments funding will be available for all children with constant and ongoing support needs. To be eligible for funding, the child or children need to have constant and ongoing support needs and require significant adjustments to enable them to engage with the educational program on the same basis as their peers or a temporary illness or injury that requires short-term adjustment to enable participation in the educational program on the same basis as their peers. However, for 2024, it is no longer a requirement for the child or children to have an application approved for HLSN funding. We are also trialling for the first time service-based Inclusion Readiness funding. Eligible community preschools can apply for funding to improve their capacity to include children with disability or additional needs in the future. The aim is to promote inclusive environments and to reduce barriers to the future enrolment, access and participation of children with disability and additional needs. Up to $5,000 per community preschool per year is available for specialised equipment and furniture or minor environmental modifications. To be eligible, the community preschool must not have previously received High Learning Support Needs or Minor Capital Works funding in the past and it must not have any children with disability recorded as attending the service in the 2023 Annual Preschool Census. And due to budget constraints, applications for this funding can only be accepted until the budget allocation is reached. That only applies to this specific stream of service-based Inclusion Readiness funding. So here are the application and payment cutoff dates for High Learning Support Needs and Inclusive Environments child-based funding. And these dates are in the funding guidelines, which have been linked in the chat for you. And here is the application cutoff and payment date for service-based Inclusion Readiness funding. So there, as you can see, there is a single round for that trial of Inclusion Readiness service-based funding. I will now pass back to Sue. Sue, I think your mic is not on yet.

- Sorry, is that better?

- Perfect.

- Thank you so much. So one of our other funding streams as you are all aware is our Sector Capacity Building program. So I just wanted to let everybody know that for 2023 and 2024, our Sector Capacity Building program is still in operation and remains unchanged with the providers that hopefully you have all already met. Now, our SCB providers, as you know, are there to assist you in your inclusion readiness and to assist you with your actual engagement with the Disability Inclusion program. Our Sector Capacity Building providers, the change that you will see when you go onto our website is that we now actually have a slide which actually allows you to see who the providers are in each of the regions. If we could flip to the next slide, please. So when you go onto our guidelines, you will actually see this page or this information displayed for you now, which actually identifies our 5 Sector Capacity Building providers across the state. But for some of you, what you may find is that the Sector Capacity Building provider may have some contracted providers, subcontractors working for them. So the contract may be held by, for example, Early Links in the Hunter region, but the delivery of that service may actually be provided by a second party. And so please don't be concerned if that's the situation for your service. And so with our Sector Capacity Building provider, we really encourage you all to engage with that provider if you haven't engaged with that provider already. And now you have some web addresses that you can actually use to contact them if you have not already. Of course, it is an opt-in program. It's not compulsory, but we do encourage everyone to engage as much as they possibly can because we're hoping to improve our outcomes across the state for children with disability.


  • Early childhood education

Business Unit:

  • Early Childhood Outcomes
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