Emergency notice

Disability and Inclusion program guidelines 2020

The purpose of the program is to provide funding and support to enable children with disability and additional needs to participate in a quality ECE.

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Key information for the 2020 program

  • New applications required for all children: Services are required to make new High learning support needs (HLSN) applications for all children. This includes children funded in 2019 - see Section 5.4 for more information.
  • Documentation requirements: HLSN applications require services to upload a written diagnosis and/or developmental assessment for the child. Where this documentation is not available, services must submit preschool observations which clearly state the developmental areas where the child displays difficulties - see Section 5.3 for more information on preschool observations and how to write them.
  • HLSN funding based on preschool observations is not on-going: If the application is assessed as eligible then one quarter of funding is provided. The service must submit an application review for the child before the next assessment cut-off date to determine if further funding will be provided. This application review must either provide the diagnosis and/or developmental assessment, or demonstrate progress towards obtaining this documentation - see Section 5.9 for more information.
  • Minor capital works funding: Applications for Minor Capital Works are child specific. To be eligible for funding, the child/children need to have an application submitted for High learning support needs funding - see Section 6.2 for more information.
  • Sector Capacity Building Program: All services are encouraged to participate in the Sector Capacity Building Program to support and enhance ongoing inclusion readiness. Even preschools who do not currently have children with a disability or additional needs enrolled can benefit from the free training, support, networking and advice this program offers - see Section 8 for more information.

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:

  • as of 2013, nine per cent of all children attending community preschools in NSW were living with a disability or additional needs, and about 85 per cent of community preschool educators work with a child with disability[1]
  • in NSW, the proportion of children with disability enrolled in a preschool program in 2018 aged 3 – 5 years is 9.2%[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
  • children with a disability and/or developmental delay who participate in quality early childhood education benefit from engagement with children without disability.[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.

2. Service eligibility criteria

This program is for community preschools that meet all of the following criteria.

Services 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 terms and conditions of funding and be in receipt of funding under Early Childhood Education Grants Program (either Start Strong Funding for centre-based community preschools or a mobile contract for mobile preschools).

3. Program components

There are four program components:

  1. High learning support needs funding
  2. Minor capital works funding
  3. Sector capacity building program
  4. Early childhood early intervention scholarships.

Please note: under Start Strong, equity funding is available for children with disability and additional needs who are enrolled in a community preschool for 600 hours per year*.

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

Please refer to the Start Strong funding guidelines for further information.

Data for Start Strong is calculated based on the number of hours of enrolment that the service enters in the preschool census.

*In recognition of the fact that 600 hours per year is not always possible for children with disability and additional needs, an exception can be granted to children with disability who are enrolled for a minimum of 300 hours per year. For this exception to be granted, the preschool must indicate that they will ensure the child’s Individual Learning Plan (ILP) includes a progressive plan to increase to 600 hours per year prior to school commencement. The Department will monitor this through reporting requirements and the annual audit program. Funding to children enrolled for a minimum of 300 hours per year will be provided at the full Start Strong equity rate.

4. Assessment and payment dates

Table 1: Assessment and payment dates for High learning support needs and Minor capital works funding. Applications open on Friday 25 October 2019.

2020 assessment cut-off dates for High learning support needs and Minor capital works funding

Payment

Submitted by 5pm Thursday 14 November 2019

Quarter 1 – February 2020

(January – 30 March 2020)

Submitted by 5pm Thursday 27 February 2020

Quarter 2 – April 2020

(April to June 2020)

Submitted by 5pm Thursday 28 May 2020

Quarter 3 – July 2020

(July to September 2020)

Tuesday 30 June 2020

Backdating deadline

Funding for approved applications submitted on or after 1 July 2020 will be backdated to 1 July 2020 or the child’s enrolment start date for 2020, whichever is the most recent date.

For more information on backdating rules, please see Section 5.11 Notification, payment and backdating

Submitted by 5pm Thursday 20 August 2020

Quarter 4 – October 2020

(October to December 2020)

Submitted by 5pm Thursday 15 October 2020

Final adjustments for 2020 – December 2020
(new applications and variations)

Assessment cut-off dates are subject to change. The Department will notify preschools via email of any changes to these dates.

Where the assessment process determines there is an urgent need to support and supervise the child due to significant safety concerns for the child, and/or other children, and/or staff at the preschool a safety risk payment can be made. This means a payment outside the above quarterly payment schedule.

Safety risk payment situations are exceptional and rare.

5. High learning support needs funding

5.1 Aim

Funding for children with high learning support needs is provided to develop and deliver the child’s Individual Learning Plan (ILP). The aim of the ILP is to support the child’s specific learning requirements to enable them to participate in the educational program on the same basis as their peers. See section 11. Helpful information in these guidelines for further information on ILPs.

Community preschools can apply for funding for a child with high learning support needs up to a total of $13,800 per child per year. This funding is provided at a rate of $23 per hour for the equivalent of up to 600 hours of support (according to the program spending rules).

Enrolment decisions, including decisions about enrolment hours are not determined by the Department or this program, and are the responsibility of the preschool in consultation with families.

5.2 Child eligibility criteria

To be eligible for this funding, the child needs to:

  • turn at least 3 years old in the preschool year (funding will be calculated according to the child’s date of birth and start date at preschool) and
  • have high learning support needs as defined in these program guidelines.

Children with high learning support needs:

  • have constant and ongoing support requirements to enable them to engage with the educational program on the same basis as their peers (and the intensity, duration and frequency of the educational supports provided is significant)
  • require systematic adjustments to the educational program
  • require an individualised learning plan (ILP) that incorporates specific teaching strategies, and specifies how interventions and supports can be embedded into preschool activities
  • require consistent adult support and guidance to engage as the same level at their peers (this may be provided by existing staff at the preschool and/or by employing additional staff to support the child)
  • may require access to specialised technology, seating and/or standing equipment.

School exemptions

Where a child is 6 years old and above, an exemption from school must be in place for the child to be eligible to receive annual funding.

For children who turn 6 before 31 October in that preschool year, this documentation must be uploaded with the child’s application.

For children who are in the process of obtaining a school exemption certificate, applications will be reviewed each quarter until a school exemption certificate is provided.

For further information on the school exemption process, please contact the child's local school or the local Educational Services team.  Your local Educational Services team can be contacted on 131 536.

5.3 Application types

Applications supported by documentation

Applications for children with High learning support needs (HLSN) must be supported by a written diagnosis and/or developmental assessment from the relevant specialists.

Documentation eligibility

  • Documentation must be on letterhead and signed by the relevant specialist.
  • Relevant specialists are an audiologist, registered psychologist, paediatrician, psychiatrist, speech pathologist, occupational therapist, a professional qualified to administer psychometric assessments, or other relevant medical specialist.
  • The assessment date on documentation related to a moderate to severe language delay or disorder, or severe behavioural and social emotional disability, must be less than 15 months prior to the application submission date in that program year. Where the assessment date on documentation provided in 2019 applications of this nature is more than 15 months prior to the application submission date, updated documentation must be provided in the child’s 2020 application for this application to be eligible.

Applications supported by preschool observations

It is understood there may be circumstances where the confirmation of a diagnosis is not is available for a child. In these circumstances, an application for HLSN can be supported by preschool observations.

Preschool educators can submit their collected information on the child by providing observations documenting the developmental areas where the child displays difficulties. Dated observations of the child must be uploaded to support the application.

These may include:

  • running records
  • time samples
  • frequency tally
  • scatter plots
  • anecdotal observations
  • Antecedents, Behaviour, Consequences (ABC) recordings
  • language samples.

Sufficient information must be provided to demonstrate the frequency, intensity and duration of the concerns across the preschool routine over the course of a week.

The dated observations must be a description of what is observed, and not contain analysis or evaluation.

Where available, the following could also be uploaded to support the preschool observations:

  • supporting letters from a General Practitioner (GP) and/or
  • Professional reports indicating concerns and further investigation requirements
  • Developmental screeners and summaries
  • an early childhood teacher or primary teacher with an additional qualification in special education who is not employed by the preschool that the child attends.

See Section 11 of these guidelines for more information on how to write preschool observations and/or contact your Sector Capacity Building provider for support.

Please note: funding for children without a written diagnosis and/or developmental assessment is NOT ongoing, and is subject to application review. The application review variation submitted must demonstrate the progress towards obtaining a written diagnosis and/or developmental assessment for the child.

See Section 5.9 Application Review for more details.

5.4 How to apply

All applications and variations (including application reviews) are made on a per child basis in the Early Childhood Contract Management System (ECCMS).

Preschools are required to make new applications for children previously funded in 2019.

Re-submissions of previous applications will not be considered as a new application.

The HLSN application requires:

  • a description of how the child generally functions in the preschool, the child’s learning support needs and how the preschool meets the individual child’s educational needs
  • a description of the level of educator guidance and support required for the child to engage at the same levels as their peers
  • a description of the adjustments required to enable the child's access to, and participation in, the educational program on the same basis as their peers
  • a written diagnosis and/or developmental assessment OR preschool observations which indicate the frequency, intensity and duration of developmental concerns
  • for applications supported by dated preschool observations, a professional assessment can also be provided to support the application.

Please note: Where available you can also provide the child’s NDIS reference number as part of the HLSN application. The child’s NDIS reference number and/or NDIS plan are for reference only, and are not eligibility requirements for funding under this program.

When to submit an application

Applications should only be made when preschools have a good understanding of the child’s educational needs within that educational setting. For an application to be assessed eligible, the child’s learning needs must be visible, documented and should not be speculative.

Applications that do not provide this information will be ineligible for HLSN funding.

5.5 Information for continuing children funded based on preschool observations in 2019

Children who commenced receiving HLSN funding based on preschool observations in the first six months of 2019 must now have a written diagnosis and/or developmental assessment in place to be considered for HLSN funding in 2020.

In rare circumstances, the assessment process may determine that an application of this nature is eligible if documentation such as an appointment booking confirmation or waiting list confirmation is uploaded with the application to provide evidence that arrangements to seek a diagnosis and/or developmental assessment for the child are in place.

5.6 Safety risk payments

An application will be eligible for a safety risk payment if the assessment process determines there is an urgent need to support and supervise the child due to significant safety concerns for the child, and/or other children, and/or staff at the preschool.

Safety risk payment situations are exceptional and rare.

A safety risk payment is a quarterly payment made outside of the regular payment schedule. Subsequent payments for safety risk applications will return to the normal payment schedule.

Applications will be assessed regularly, and you may be contacted for additional information to support the application.

Examples of a safety risk may include, but are not limited to:

  • injuries to self and/or other children/staff
  • absconding from environments and/or the preschool premises
  • aggressive actions such as hitting, kicking, biting, spitting, or climbing on or throwing furniture
  • staff require additional resources to manage aspects of the child’s condition to support full enrolment.

5.7 Parent/carer consent forms

Under the terms and conditions of your funding agreement with the Department, service providers are required to complete a consent form for each child upon enrolment. This form consents to the use and disclosure of personal information that is used by the Department for reporting and funding purposes.

As long as this form has been completed for each child, additional forms of parent/carer consent are not required for the Disability and Inclusion program.

Consent Form - Child (PDF 716.68KB)

Consent Form - Personnel (PDF683.2 KB)

5.8 Variations

Variations are made on a per child basis in the Early Childhood Contract Management System (ECCMS).

Variations should be made within two working weeks for eligible applications where:

  • a child’s learning support needs change, and you need to request an increase in HLSN hours
  • a child’s learning support needs change, and you need to request a decrease in HLSN hours (including reducing HLSN hours to zero to inform the Department that a child no longer requires HLSN funding)
  • a child leaves the preschool
  • an application review is required (see Section 5.9 Application review for more information)
  • a child is absent for more than 5 weeks
  • a school exemption is required for the child.

Funding allocations may change throughout the year if a funded child leaves the preschool, has a change in their learning support needs that requires reassessment, or new children with disability and additional needs enrol.

In such cases a funding adjustment will be applied to the preschool’s next payment.

5.9 Application review (for children funded based on preschool observations)

To ensure supports are in place for children with high learning support needs, and to enable a positive transition to school, it is important that preschools support families to obtain a formal assessment for children in receipt of HLSN funding.

Therefore, HLSN funding for children without a written diagnosis and/or developmental assessment (i.e. based on preschool observations) is not ongoing, and is subject to application review.

If the application is assessed as eligible then one quarter of funding is provided. The service must submit an application review for the child before the next assessment cut-off date to determine if further funding will be provided.

Application reviews are submitted as a variation in ECCMS.

Select the pencil icon next to the child’s name in the list of child applications in ECCMS. Select the reason for the variation (i.e. application review) and follow the prompts.

Types of application review

1. Upload written diagnosis and/or developmental assessment

When a written diagnosis and/or developmental assessment is obtained, preschools should submit an application review. The application will then be re-assessed to ascertain the child’s learning support needs. If the assessment process determines the child does have high learning support needs, then they will be provided with annual funding for the remainder of the calendar year (in accordance with the program’s backdating rules).

2. Progress update

Where a written diagnosis and/or developmental assessment is not available, an application review to provide a progress update should be submitted.

This is not an update on the child’s developmental progress, but an update that demonstrates progress towards obtaining a written diagnosis and/or developmental assessment for the child.

Where the application review does not demonstrate progress towards obtaining a written diagnosis and/or developmental assessment, funding will not continue.

5.10 Assessment and feedback

The Department will assess applications and determine funding. Where required, the Department may seek further information from preschools about their application.

Feedback on the outcome of a funding application can be sought from the assessment team by emailing ecec.funding@det.nsw.edu.au and providing the following information:

  • child’s full name and application ID
  • preschool name
  • contact person at the preschool and contact phone number
  • the question/s you have about the child’s application.

Once you have provided this following information, a member of the assessment team will contact you within 7-10 business days to discuss your application.

Note: please do not provide sensitive information (including diagnostic reports and developmental assessments).

Applications are individually assessed in accordance with the program guidelines and the application type. The hours of support approved for each child may be adjusted accordingly.

5.11 Notification, payment and backdating

Services will be notified of the assessment outcome for each application, and their funding allocation via email.

Payments will align with the assessment and payment dates table in section 4.

Funding for approved applications submitted up to and including 30 June 2020 will be backdated to the child’s enrolment start date for 2020.

Funding for approved applications submitted on or after 1 July 2020 will be backdated to 1 July 2019, or the child’s enrolment start date for 2020, whichever is the most recent date.

Funding adjustments for approved variations to increase or decrease hours submitted by 30 June 2020 will be backdated to the variation start date.

Funding adjustments for approved variations to increase hours submitted on or after 1 July 2020 will be backdated to 1 July 2020 or the variation start date, whichever is the most recent date.

Funding adjustments for approved variations where a child has left the service and to decrease hours will be calculated on a pro-rata basis, according the variation start date (i.e. the date the child left the service or decreased hours).

5.12 Spending rules

High learning support needs funding must be used to support the individual child.

Funding can be used for:

  • activities directly related to the development, delivery and review of the child’s Individual Learning Plan (ILP), including collaboration with specialist providers working with the child
  • employing additional staff to support the child (i.e. staff you employ to support the specific needs of the child in your educational setting, over and above business decisions the preschool has already made regarding operating above the required staff to child ratios)
  • engagement with educators provided through the Sector Capacity Building program on matters related to the child
  • professional development (including course costs related to the inclusion of the child), but only where this type of training cannot be provided free of charge by the preschool’s Sector Capacity Building provider.

Funding cannot be used for:

  • payment of fees
  • employment of therapists for children
  • assessments
  • specialist medical consultations (for example, paediatricians)
  • medical equipment
  • early intervention supports that are most appropriately provided through the NDIS
  • any other functional supports that are provided through the NDIS or other programs
  • to offset existing staff costs
  • paying for professional development (including course costs related to the inclusion of the child) where this type of training can be provided free of charge by the preschool’s Sector Capacity Building provider.

Preschools with high numbers of children with HLSN

Where a preschool has a large number of children with disability and/or additional needs enrolled, HLSN applications must only be made for the hours of support that the preschool can spend in accordance with the program spending rules.

For example, if the preschool does not need to employ additional staff to support children with HLSN, they should only apply for the hours of support required in relation to the other program spending rules.

Where a preschool has a large number of eligible children with high learning support needs, the Department may cap funding in consultation with the service to ensure the funding allocations provided can be spent on the individual children.

The Department will engage with services where the number of children with high learning support is higher than the average to make these arrangements.

Please note: where the acquittal and/or audit process identifies unspent and/or incorrectly spent HLSN funding, future payments may be adjusted against unspent funds.

6. Minor capital works funding

6.1 Aim

The aim of the minor capital works program is to promote access and improve the educational opportunities, learning outcomes and personal development of children with disability and additional needs.

Funding is available for minor capital works (including minor modifications and specialised equipment/furniture) that is an essential requirement to enable children with disability to participate in the educational program on the same basis as their peers.

This funding is available for community preschools (including mobile preschools – who can apply for specialised educational equipment/furniture).

6.2 Eligibility criteria

Applications are child specific, but one application can include minor capital requirements for multiple children, where the environment adjustment/equipment/furniture relates to more than one child.

To be eligible for this funding, the child/children need to have an application submitted for high learning support needs.

6.3 Funding

Funding of up to $5,000 per child per year (or per application, if the application is for more than one child) is available for specialised equipment/furniture.

Funding of up to $20,000  per child per year (or per application, if the application is for more than one child) is available for minor construction projects. Please note that council approvals may be required for minor construction projects. Consultation with local government is recommended prior to application for minor construction projects through the Disability and Inclusion program.

6.4 How to apply

Applications are made in the Early Childhood Contract Management System (ECCMS).

Applications can be made from Friday 25 October 2019 to Thursday 15 October 2020, according to budget availability.

The application must set out:

  • preschool and project details
  • the child/children’s educational needs
  • the essential minor environmental modifications specialised equipment/furniture that are required to enable the child or children to access, and participate in, the educational program
  • how the minor environmental modifications, specialised equipment/furniture are linked to/will deliver outcomes specified in the child/children’s ILP
  • provide relevant supporting documentation, including up to three quotes.

Applications for specialised equipment/furniture and minor construction projects can be made within the one application.

Where applications are submitted that exceed the available grant amount, applicants will be required to confirm that they will be able to fund the difference.

If circumstances change, and a service cannot fund the difference, they must notify the Department. In such circumstances the grant must be returned to the Department in full, unless expenditure is otherwise agreed by both parties and approved by the Department. These decisions will be made on a case by case basis.

If applying for equipment or furniture please provide photocopies or sample pictures from catalogues to support your application.

6.5 Assessment and feedback

The Department will assess applications and determine funding. Where required, the Department may seek further information from preschools about their applications.

Applications will be assessed according to budget availability.

All decisions will be made based on the individual needs of children.

When the applications are assessed a range of factors are taken into account including:

  • the degree to which the proposed project will support or improve the educational participation and outcomes of the child or children identified in this application
  • the extent to which the proposed project is the most economical and effective way to meet the educational needs of the child or children identified in this application
  • whether relevant authorities and the community been consulted where required.

Feedback on the outcome of a funding application can be sought from the assessment team by emailing ecec.funding@det.nsw.edu.au and providing the following information:

  • child’s full name and application ID
  • preschool name
  • contact person at the preschool and contact phone number
  • the question/s you have about the child’s application.

Once you have provided this following information, a member of the assessment team will contact you within 7-10 business days to discuss your application.

Note: please do not provide sensitive information (including diagnostic reports and developmental assessments).

6.6 Notification and payment

Payments will generally align with the quarterly payment schedule, but can also be made on an ad-hoc basis according to need and budget availability.

6.7 Spending rules

Funding can be used for, but is not limited to:

  • the erection, alteration or extension of buildings or other facilities including outside developments. This includes conversion of buildings or facilities to alternative uses or their upgrading to modern standards, but does not include maintenance work. Examples of projects funded previously include:
    • access pathways to promote physical access for children with disability attending a community preschool
    • modifications to bathroom facilities
    • modifications to playground facilities
    • construction of ramps.
  • the provision of specialised equipment or specialised furniture. That is, equipment or furniture that supports a child’s attendance in an early childhood setting only.  If this equipment or furniture is not provided then the child will not be able to attend the preschool.  Examples of projects that may be considered include:
    • standing frames and seating equipment
    • grab rails and toilet rail surrounds
    • hydraulic nappy change tables.

Funds are not available for:

  • retrospective assistance. In this instance, an application is considered to be retrospective if the organisation enters into a commitment (e.g. signs a contract) prior to submitting an application
  • general refurbishment
  • projects where the purpose is satisfying government requirements for childrens services
  • the modification of space to create segregated playrooms or therapy rooms
  • generic early childhood equipment, non-specialised gross motor equipment, and therapy and sensory equipment
  • teachers’ resources
  • the establishment or upgrade of an equipment loaning service
  • digital cameras, video cameras, computers and IT equipment
  • photocopiers, fax machines and office equipment
  • segregated bathrooms and nappy change areas for children with disability
  • segregated playground areas and equipment.

7. Reporting requirements

7.1 High learning support needs

A formal acquittal process must be undertaken within one year of receiving funding. This includes completing a statement of expenditure and a performance accountability statement, and may include providing information on how the funds have been spent to support the individual child.

The statement of expenditure requires services to report to the Department on how the funding allocation has been spent in accordance with the spending rules.

The performance accountability statement requires services to report to the Department on progress for each child receiving high learning support needs funding.

Preschools may be audited to confirm the accuracy of data provided in their performance and financial accountability statements, which includes ensuring that the funding provided has been used to support the achievement of educational outcomes for children with disability in accordance with these guidelines.

Records of the parent/carer's consent for high learning support needs applications must be held on file by the preschool, along with documentary evidence of the child’s disability and/or additional needs.

7.2 Minor capital works

A formal acquittal process must be undertaken within one year of receiving funding. This includes completing a statement of expenditure and a performance accountability statement.

Preschools may be audited to confirm the accuracy of data provided in their performance and financial accountability statements.

8. Sector capacity building program

The Sector capacity building program is a training and support program for staff in community preschools to support and enhance ongoing inclusion readiness.

This program is available to all NSW community preschools. Levels of support will vary depending on a preschool’s circumstances and needs, but it is best practice that all preschools engage in capacity building on an on-going basis, whether there are children with disability currently enrolled in the preschool or not.

Preschools are assigned an Early Childhood Intervention Service (or other qualified organisation) as their program provider.

In 2020, the Sector capacity building providers will assist preschools to:

  • increase their capacity to include children with disability and additional needs on the same basis as their peers
  • enable equitable education outcomes for children with disability and additional needs consistent with the five outcome areas of the Early Years Learning Framework (Identity, Connectedness, Wellbeing, Confident and Involved Learners, Communication)
  • understand the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) as it relates to the delivery of supports for children through the Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) approach within an educational setting.

Under this program, preschools will be supported to evaluate:

  • the additional support required for children’s educational development against the five outcome areas of the Early Years Learning Framework (Identity, Connectedness, Wellbeing, Confident and Involved Learners, Communication)
  • any barriers preventing children from participating in all the preschool experiences offered
  • whether these barriers relate to the skills and experience of the educators
  • whether these barriers arise from features of the preschool
  • whether these identified barriers may be removed or adjusted without additional funding
  • whether these identified barriers may be removed or reduced only with additional funding
  • results from administering a recognised assessment (such as the Ages and Stages Questionnaire: Squires & Bricker 2009) to assess the child's development, conducted in consultation with his/her parents/carers, and consideration of whether further referral is necessary.

This program includes:

  • regular site visits and a coaching and mentoring program delivered by Early Childhood Early Intervention Services and other qualified organisations (including phone and email support)
  • accredited professional learning and an online resource platform
  • online self-assessment of Inclusive Practice tool for services
  • Early Learning Transitions pilot program to support successful transitions into preschool for children with disability.

9. Early childhood early intervention scholarships

This new scholarship program seeks to address feedback that there may not be enough focus on early childhood development and early childhood intervention in special education studies.

The program is currently under development and services will be notified when applications open in 2020.

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.

Preschool Disability Support Program Scholarship recipients

Current scholarship program recipients will continue to be supported by the Department to complete their studies.

If you are a current PDSP scholar, contact the Early Childhood Education Directorate for payment dates and deadlines for 2020.

10. Contact details

Early Childhood Education Directorate

Information and Enquiries team: 1300 755 426

Email: ecec.funding@det.nsw.edu.au

11. Helpful information

11.1 What is an Individual Learning Plan (ILP)?

An individual learning plan must be developed for each child approved for high learning support needs funding. It should have the following characteristics:

  • a written document that details what the preschool will do for the child
  • a working document to help preschools record each child's developmental progress
  • developed in consultation and agreement with the child's parents or carers
  • does not need to be lengthy or complex
  • updated regularly and reviewed at least every six months
  • forms part of the planning/documentation of the child's educational program and progress as part of the National Quality Framework
  • must address the following:
    • assessment information reports
    • information about the child's disability
    • roles and responsibilities of team members and other services that may work with the child at the preschool (e.g. early childhood early intervention providers under the NDIS)
    • summary of the child's strengths, interests and needs
    • long term goals and outcomes
    • specific short term objectives
    • teaching strategies
    • ongoing evaluation
    • documentation of the transition process (either transition within the preschool or from preschool to school).
  • you can use it to:
    • document your consultation with the child's parents/carers and the reasonable adjustments being made to support the child
    • complement the goals and aspirations expressed in a child's NDIS support plans, and the potential for integrated assessment and planning should be taken into account.

11.2 Do I need to make an application for this child?

When considering whether an application for high learning needs or minor capital works funding is required, you need to consider an individual child's ability to access the preschool and the educational program in relation to the following key areas:

  • the educational needs of the child
  • the current number of educators, their skills and experience
  • specific areas of the program (excursions, routines, individual activities and small group experiences)
  • the needs of other children in the preschool
  • the physical environment
  • other supports available to the child through non-government agencies and/or the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

It will also assist to consider whether the child:

  • presents with expressive and/or receptive language that is significantly delayed when compared to same aged peers
  • uses jargon, involuntarily repeat sounds or words that they hear from others or predominately use gesture to communicate
  • has social skills that are not age appropriate, may be aggressive to peers, have poor emotional regulation
  • engages in parallel or solitary play and may be self-directed and prefer own agenda
  • is not be aware of danger and may require constant supervision to remain safe
  • is not toilet trained and needs help with dressing
  • requires adult support transitioning between activities
  • consistently requires educators to provide verbal and physical support to remain on task.

11.3 What sort of information should I include in a preschool based observation?

  • Information that is evidence of what the child knows, can do and understands
  • relevant background information
  • dated anecdotal observations that provide clear examples of the areas of concern, including the duration and intensity of behaviours
  • charts that provide clear evidence of the frequency of the behaviour/s of concern
  • observations that identify the support needs of the child during different parts of the day
  • the level of support required for routines such as toileting and meal times.
Table 2: Preschool observation

What an observation looks like

What it does not look like

Anecdotal records

Letters of support for funding from professionals

Running records

Professional reports indicating concerns and further investigation

Time samples

Screeners such as Ages and stages

Learning stories or narratives of key events

Developmental summaries or Developmental milestone checklists

Jottings

NDIS plans

Antecedents, Behaviour, Consequences (ABC) recordings

Individual Behaviour plans and Individual Learning plans

11.4 How do I make a 2020 HLSN application for a child that was funded in 2019?

Preschools are required to make new applications for all children each year.

11.5 Where a child attends more than one preschool, can funding applications be made by both services?

Yes. Funding applications can be made as follows:

  • high learning support needs funding – apply for hours of support required, up to 600 hours
  • minor capital works funding.

11.6 What are the assessment cut off and payment dates?

Table 3: Assessment and payment dates for High learning support needs and Minor capital works funding. Applications open Friday 25 October 2019.
2020 assessment cut-off dates for High learning support needs and Minor capital works funding

Payment

Submitted by 5pm Thursday 14 November 2019

Quarter 1 - February 2020

(January – 30 March 2020)

Submitted by 5pm Thursday 27 February 2020

Quarter 2 – April 2020

(April to June 2020)

Submitted by 5pm Thursday 28 May 2020

Quarter 3 – July 2020

(July to September 2020)

Tuesday 30 June 2020

Backdating deadline

Funding for approved applications submitted on or after 1 July 2020 will be backdated to 1 July 2020, or the child’s enrolment start date for 2020, whichever is the most recent date.

For more information on backdating rules, please see Section 5.11 Notification, payment and backdating

Submitted by 5pm Thursday 20 August 2020

Quarter 4 – October 2020

(October to December 2020)

Submitted by 5pm Thursday 15 October 2020

Final adjustments for 2020 – December 2020
(new applications and variations)

Assessment cut-off dates are subject to change. The Department will notify preschools via email of any changes to these dates.

11.7 What is a safety risk HLSN payment?

In 2019, a HLSN application can be considered for a safety risk payment. This means a payment outside of the quarterly payment schedule.

An application will only be eligible for safety risk payment if the assessment process determines there is an urgent need to support and supervise the child due to significant safety concerns for the child, and/or other children, and/or staff at the preschool.

Safety risk payment situations will be exceptional and rare.

Applications will be assessed regularly to support the safety risk payment process, and you may be contacted for additional information to support the application.

11.8 Can I submit a high learning support needs application for a child without a written diagnosis and/or developmental assessment?

Yes. It is understood there may be circumstances where the confirmation of a diagnosis is not is available for a child. In these circumstances, an application for HLSN can be supported by preschool observations.

Preschool educators can submit their collected information on the child by providing observations documenting the developmental areas where the child displays difficulties. Dated observations of the child must be uploaded to support the application.

Please note: funding for children without a written diagnosis and/or developmental assessment is NOT ongoing, and is subject to application review. The application review variation submitted must demonstrate the progress towards obtaining a written diagnosis and/or developmental assessment for the child.

See Section 5.9 Application Review for more details.

11.9 What is an Application Review?

An application review is required each quarter for HLSN funded children without a written diagnosis and/or developmental assessment (i.e. funded based on preschool observations).

An application review is submitted as a variation in ECCMS, and must be submitted by the relevant assessment cut-off date for each quarterly payment.

Select the pencil icon next to the child’s name in the list of child applications in ECCMS. Select the reason for the variation (i.e. application review) and follow the prompts to upload a written diagnosis and/or developmental assessment, or provide a progress update (i.e. an update that demonstrates progress towards obtaining a written diagnosis and/or developmental assessment for the child).

Where the application review provide a written diagnosis and/or developmental assessment or demonstrate progress towards obtaining one, funding will not continue.

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