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, 7.6% of all children enrolled in a preschool program in 2020 aged 4-5 years old were children with disability [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.
  • 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 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 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.

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 2023 High Learning Support Needs Guidelines
Minor Capital Works Funding for minor environment adjustments and specialised educational equipment/furniture. View the 2023 Minor Capital Works Funding Guideliines
Sector Capacity Building Program

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

View the 2023 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 about the 2023 guidelines for High Learning Support Needs and Minor Capital Works funding

- All right, well, it's officially 2:02, so unless anybody objects, we'll kick things off now. So, hi, everyone. Thank you for joining us today. We will be talking about the High Learning Support Needs and Minor Capital Works funding applications and guidelines for 2023. I'd like to just take a couple of minutes to do an acknowledgement of country. Thank you. All right, sorry, I'm just having a little bit of issue of mine with the slides. So I am joining you today from Gadigal Land, and I would like to pay respect to Aboriginal elders, past, present, and Jarjums emerging, who are, of course, the heart of what we're doing and talking about today. I would like to extend respect to any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander colleagues who are joining us today. And as part of acknowledging country, we're going to play a short video now. Now, this acknowledgement was delivered by children at Kooloora Preschool, which is on Darkinjung country on the Central Coast. So hopefully, the technology works for us here.

- [Children] We placed our hands on the ground to acknowledge Aboriginal land. We place our hands in the sky that covers Aboriginal land. We place our hands on our hearts to care for Aboriginal land. we promise.

- So hopefully that sets us up with the right tone today, keeping Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander children at the forefront of our minds. All right, a couple of points on housekeeping before we get into the substance of the presentation. So firstly, for those of you who don't know me, which might be many of you, my name is Kristie Brown, and I'm the director of the newly formed Access and Inclusion branch, which is part of the Early Childhood Outcomes Division of the New South Wales Department of Education. So I have a number of colleagues who are joining us today as well from our Disability Inclusion team. So you're going to hear from Monique Dam, who's the acting manager of that team. You'll hear from Naomi Mamoas, who's the education support officer, and some of our other staff might jump in at different times. So just to start off, I just want to confirm that we are recording the presentation today. If that's an issue for anybody, please let us know. But as you can see, the video and the voice recordings are switched off, so there shouldn't be any issues around privacy. We will talk about the disability inclusion program funding and supports available for community preschools only. So this, for those of you who are familiar with the program already, you'll know that this funding program is focused on community preschools, so including mobile preschools within that. But if you do work in a different type of service, and you've come along today, you are welcome to stay in here about the program. But it probably is very unlikely to be directly applicable to you in your work. If you are coming, for instance, from a long daycare or a family daycare service, there is the Commonwealth Inclusion Support Program, which is more likely to be directly relevant to you. And I think we're going to pop into the chat function the link to the ISP. All right, so today, you'll have an opportunity to ask questions via the Q&A function. And so we'll respond to as many of these as we can during our webinar. We're not able to address or respond to individual or child specific queries, and I'm sure it goes without saying, but please don't share any personal or identifying information about children in the Q&A. We are aiming to get through as many questions as we can either through the presentation content or through the live Q&A discussion at the end. But if we don't get to your question today for some reason, remember that you can also reach out to your sector capacity building provider, who can support you with a range of information around inclusive practices, or you can also contact us at the department through the Information and Inquiries team. And we'll also copy the details for that into the chat for you. All right, and as I said, since we're presenting a webinar, your microphone and video and chat functions have been turned off. And that's really it for me. At this point, I'm going to hand over to my colleague, Monique, who's going to talk you through some of the key features and program arrangements for 2023. Over to you, Monique.

- Thank you so much, Kristie. Hi, everyone. Thank you so much for joining us today. I would also like to acknowledge that I'm joining you from the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. This land was never ceded. As many of you know, the High Learning Support Needs and Minor Capital Works funding programs are two components of the New South Wales Disability and Inclusion Program, also known as the DIP. This program provides funding and support to community preschools, to enable children with disability and additional needs to participate in a quality early childhood education program on the same basis as their peers. HLSN funding is provided for community preschools to develop and deliver an individual learning plan for a child with High Learning Support Needs. Funding is available for the equivalent of 600 hours of support per child per year. Minor Capital Works funding of up to $20,000 is available for minor modifications, and up to $5,000 is available for specialised equipment and furniture per child per year. The Sector Capacity Building Program provides free training and support to staff and community preschools to implement inclusive education practices, and to enhance ongoing inclusion readiness. Scholarships are available for early childhood education teachers to undertake a post-graduate qualification in early childhood inclusive education. Some of you may know that applications closed in October, and the department is currently reviewing the applications we received. And now, you'll notice in the chat a link to the Disability and Inclusion landing page. So now, I'm just going to give you an overview of some of the key changes to the HLSN Funding Guidelines. Indexation has been applied commencing January, 2023, which has resulted in an increase in the funding rate. The new funding rate is $24.27 per hour for the equivalent of up to 600 hours of support per child per year. This means that community preschools can receive up to a total of $14,562 per child per year. Indexation is guided by New South Wales Treasury determined rates. And those rates are in the guidelines. NDIS plans will now be considered as evidence to support an application. As with other types of documentation, the responses to the application questions will still need to demonstrate that the child requires significant adjustments to be included in the education program. A NDIS plan alone is not sufficient evidence of legibility for funding. Another change that we've made in recognition of the challenges that children and families may face in obtaining a diagnosis is to ensure that annual funding is provided for observations-based applications. As you may know, where a child has been identified by the preschool as having High Learning Support Needs, and where the child does not have a written diagnosis or MDIS plan, community preschools can submit an application supported by observations. And these observations are recorded by educators at the preschool. We've also listened to community preschool's feedback about the administrative requirements for observations-based applications. From now on, community preschools will no longer need to submit a quarterly variation to their observations-based application. Funding for applications supported by observations is available on an annual basis. And the assessment process will continue to be in place for all applications. In response to a number of requests for further guidance in submitting applications with observations, a series of optional templates is now available to assist community preschools to make and record observations. Community preschools can use the templates to support an application for HLSN funding. Please do keep in mind that the use of the templates is optional and does not determine the application outcome nor eligibility for funding. So templates are now available for different types of observations, including an antecedent behaviour and consequence recording, which can be used to determine whether what happens before and after the behaviour might be influencing the child's behaviour. ABC recordings should be taken across the preschool routine. Anecdotal observations tell a story with short and focused descriptions of the child's focus behaviours. A frequency tally records the number of times that a child's focus behaviour was observed. A language sample records the language used in an interaction and can include the child's verbal and nonverbal communication via a transcription of a video or an audio recording. A running record is an exact record of what the child does and says as it happens. A scatterplot tracks and counts behaviours and helps to identify frequency and patterns across times of the day. And finally, a time sample maps the child's experiences and behaviour at regular intervals. The time samples of different days are need to be completed before a picture of the child's day can be formed. All of these templates are optional, and we've developed them in response to interest from community preschools for more guidance on how to record observations as evidence for HLSN funding applications. Again, the templates do not determine the application outcome nor eligibility for funding. You can access the templates via our website, and a link will now be provided in the chat. We also encourage you to watch the webinars on inclusive education developed by STaR Association, which are funded by the department, including a webinar on observations. Sector capacity building providers are also able to assist community preschools to use these templates to collect evidence for HLSN applications. The department has updated the questions in the HLSN funding application form. We listened to your feedback that the questions could be simpler, and we've added an optional third question. We've aimed to improve the efficiency of the application process and improve your experience of preparing the applications. So we have provided some guidance for the questions. So these are the questions that you can see now. And the additional guidance that we've provided for question one is that we suggest you consider the child's strengths and the child's needs in relation to the developmental domains and the early years' learning framework outcomes. For question two, the additional guidance that we've provided is that you may wish to think about adjustments such as adult guidance, teaching strategies, or environmental modifications. And please describe the adjustments that are required. For example, reviewing transitions using a visual routine, small group work, physical prompting, task breakdown, modelling, or specialised equipment and facilities. Please note that simply stating the child requires one-on-one support is not a sufficient response to the second question. You'll notice there's also a third question which is optional. And that's for you to provide any other information you'd like us to consider in relation to the child. In terms of key changes to the Minor Capital Works Funding Guidelines, there have been very minor changes. The Minor Capital Works funding allocations must be spent in the calendar year in which the funding was allocated, and all equipment and furniture must be maintained in accordance with Regulation 103 of the Education and Care National regulations. This means that all equipment and furniture must be safe, clean, and in good repair. We encourage services to familiarize themselves with, and to consider applying for MCW funding. This funding, as was mentioned earlier, enables community preschools to make minor adjustments, and to purchase specialised equipment or furniture to support children with High Learning Support Needs to access and to participate in the educational program on the same basis as their peers. And again, sector capacity bills and providers can support community preschools to apply for this funding. So just letting you know, the dates for 2023 applications are now open. They're open on Monday. Here are the key application and payment dates for High Learning Support Needs and minor Minor Capital Works funding. These dates are in the guidelines that we'll link in the chat, so please do have a look at those. And please note that while we plan, that this is the plan for the dates, application cut-off dates can still be subject to change, and of course, the department will notify preschools of any change via the standard communication channels such as email. I'll just give you a moment to have a look at that. And again, these are in the guidelines. So we want to take this opportunity to remind you of the free training and support that's available to all New South Wales community preschools to implement inclusive education practices. Sector capacity building providers can assist community preschools in many ways, such as by supporting you to submit applications for HLSN and Minor Capital Works funding, to enable the participation of children with disability using funded and unfunded supports, to develop and implement individual learning plans, to evaluate the educational program and environment to support the participation of children with disability, and to prepare for the immediate or future enrolment of children with disability and additional needs. And again, those are just some examples, so please do refer to the sector capacity building guidelines, which will be linked in the chat. And please also do reach out to your sector capacity building provider. So community preschools can engage with their provider at any time, and do not need to be receiving HLSN or MCW funding. We really encourage you to get in touch with your provider to find out more about the supports available to you. And again, have a look at the chat box for a link to the guidelines.

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