Financial Accountability Return Guide

The guide includes information on how early childhood education service providers can complete their annual financial accountability in accordance with the Early Childhood Outcomes (ECO) grants programs Terms and Conditions and program guidelines.

1. Overview

The NSW Department of Education is committed to working with service providers to improve service accountability and to simplify grants administration through the Early Childhood Contract Management System (ECCMS).

This guide should be used in conjunction with the Financial Accountability - Information for Services page and the ECCMS Service Provider Guide (PDF, 7MB) (pages 74 to 87) which detail the steps for completing financial accountability through ECCMS.

1.1. Before you start

Visit the Early Childhood Education grants and funded programs webpages to review the relevant program guidelines before completing the financial accountability.

1.2. Financial accountability statement

Service providers are required to complete a separate financial accountability statement for each grant funding received, detailing how the funding was expended, including details of any unexpended funds. The financial accountability statement must be submitted through ECCMS.

If a service provider reports:

  • an overall nil balance or deficit for each service/funding specification, no further action is required.
  • a surplus, please see the Management of surplus funds section.

See the Financial Accountability – Information for Services for instructions on how to locate the funding specification financial accountability statement in ECCMS.

Note: Amounts noted on the financial accountability statement should clearly agree with the figures reported in the service’s audited/non-audited financial income and expenditure statements from your accountant or bookkeeper.

There should be a clear breakdown of income from all sources, and expenditure for the service funding specification.

The department's (DoE) grant funding should not be combined into one line item of income on the service’s audited/non-audited financial income and expenditure statements from their accountant/bookkeeper. Please separate by program e.g. Start Strong Fee Relief Funding, Start Strong for Community Preschools program funding, Disability and Inclusion, etc.

Note: Services should consult with their accountant or bookkeeper if there is not an identifiable breakdown of grants and other income on their audited/non-audited financial income and expenditure statements.

The financial accountability statement must be for the end of the approved funded provider’s Reporting Year, i.e. financial or calendar.

Statements from previous years can also be submitted if there are surplus funds from previous years required to be reported in the annual financial accountability statement. This information would normally be generated from the organisation’s accounting system or audited/non-audited financial income and expenditure statements.

1.3. Financial reporting requirements

Financial reporting requirements depend on whether the service provider is classified as a Tier 1 or Tier 2 organisation under NSW Fair Trading guidelines.

Some services may be classified as a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC). Requirements under Tier 1 and Tier 2 classifications are still applicable in this case.

Pease refer to the tables below to determine Tier 1 or Tier 2 service providers to submit financial statements.

More detailed information on Tier 1 and Tier 2 organisations can be found on the NSW Fair Trading website.

Tier 1 Service Providers Accountability requirements
  • Associations with a total revenue as recorded in the income and expenditure statement (i.e. gross receipts) for a financial year is more than $250,000 or
  • An association with current assets more than $500,000
  • Complete the Financial Accountability through ECCMS.
  • Audited financial statements for the end of the funded provider’s financial year.
  • Income and Expenditure Statement - with a breakdown of all sources of income.
  • Asset Register (if required).
Tier 2 Service Providers Accountability Requirements
  • Associations with a total revenue as recorded in the income and expenditure statement (i.e. gross receipts) for a financial year is $250,000 or less, and
  • An association with current assets of $500,000 or less
  • Complete the financial accountability statement in ECCMS.
  • A copy of minutes of the meeting approving the financial statements and agreed to by all members of the board/management committee.
  • Statement signed by an independent qualified accountant verifying that the unaudited financial statements are true and fair.
  • Income and expenditure statement - with a breakdown of all sources of income.
  • Asset Register (if required).

2. Financial accountability guidance notes by program

Please navigate to the relevant program to find information and guidance notes to assist you to complete financial accountability through ECCMS.

2.1. Start Strong for Community Preschools, Mobile Preschool Contracts and Mobile Preschool Funding Programs, including Fee Relief Payments

This section is relevant to Start Strong for Community Preschools, Mobile Preschool Contracts and the Mobile Preschool Funding Program and Start Strong Pathways programs.

Visit Start Strong for Community Preschools to access the guidelines.

Read the Mobile Preschool Funding Program guidelines.

Note: This financial accountability statement now combines the Fee Relief Payments and Program Payment in one accountability.

2.1.1. Part 1 – Fee Relief Payment

Part 1 – Fee Relief Payment should be completed before completing Part 2 – Program Payment.

The Fee Relief Payment aims to reduce the cost of early childhood education and care to families in the form of fee pass-through.

Income section

Fee Relief Payment is the total amount of Fee Relief paid to the service provider for this funding specification and is automatically recorded in the first line of the income section on the accountability.

Note: The 2022-2023 Start Strong for Community Preschools and Mobile Preschool Funding Program financial accountability captures Fee Relief funding paid to service providers from January to June 2023.

Reserved Fee Relief Funds (Quarantined Funds) are funds that were not allocated to an enrolment e.g. The service had fewer children enrolled than funding was provided for, or for enrolled children where families have claimed fee relief elsewhere. These funds must be reserved (quarantined) by the service and recorded in your liabilities. The amount at this section is manually entered by the service.

Note: Only enter the reserved (quarantined) fee relief amount, where funds were not allocated to an enrolment.

Total Adjusted Income is an automatic calculation. It is the amount of the total Fee Relief Payments, less any Reserved Fee Relief Funds (not allocated to an enrolment) noted above.

The calculation for Total Adjusted Income
Total Fee Relief Payments from DoE
Less: Reserved Fee Relief (Quarantined) Funds
Equals: Total Adjusted Income Available

This is the amount the service should show the expenditure for.

Note: If a service had more enrolments claiming Fee Relief than the service was funded for, and the service was required to use their own retained profits to temporarily cover the cost of Fee Relief passed on to families, a negative figure should be entered next to the ‘Reserved Fee Relief Funds. This negative figure will be the difference of the amount paid by the department for Fee Relief and the total of Fee Relief passed on to families.

Services may be eligible for additional funding in 2024 to address a Fee Relief related deficit accrued because of providing Fee Relief to more enrolments than the service was initially funded for in 2023. Refer to Fee Relief Payment in relevant Program Guidelines.

Our service received funds for 50 children under Start Strong for Community Preschools Fee Relief funding. The total enrolments claiming Fee Relief at our service was 60 children.

How do I show this on the financial accountability statement?

Calculate the difference between the amount paid by the department, and the amount the service passed on to families. This figure should be displayed as a negative in the ‘Reserved Fee Relief Funds’ section. This amount will be considered in the next Fee Relief Payment adjustment from the department.

How do we cover the cost of the additional families claiming Fee Relief at our service?

Services should cover the cost of additional families claiming Fee Relief from their retained profits.

When will our service be reimbursed by the department for the additional enrolments claiming Fee Relief at our service?

Services may be eligible for additional funding in 2024 to address a Fee Relief related deficit accrued because of providing Fee Relief to more enrolments than the service was initially funded for in 2023. (Refer to Fee Relief Payment in relevant Program Guidelines).

The service will need to clearly show the breakdown of actual expenditure of the Total Adjusted Income amount for the reporting period. This is the amount of actual fee reduction provided to children’s daily fees up to 600 hours.

Expenditure section

Services are required to apply the Fee Relief Funding in the order listed in the Fee Relief Spending Rules under the relevant program guidelines to:

  1. reduce the daily fees as much as possible for 600 hours per year of enrolment for eligible children accessing fee relief at the service.
  2. reduce the cost of additional charges to families accessing fee relief at the service e.g. enrolment, administration, resources, excursions etc.
  3. i) reduce the cost of enrolment above 600 hours per year (e.g. third day fees); or
    ii) reduce the daily fee for 600 hours per year of enrolment for eligible children not accessing fee relief at the service, e.g. children of families with greatest need; or
    iii) # reduce the service’s operating expenses per the Program Payment spending rules.

Note: How the 2023 Fee Relief Payment is applied is different to how the 2022 Free Preschool Payment was applied.

The amount entered in Part 1 – Fee Relief Payment Expenditure item iii) # above will be automatically deducted from Part 2 – Program Payment DoE Funds column operating expenses. This is because the service will be acquitting that amount already under Part 1 – Fee Relief Payment expenditure.

Only record amounts where Fee Relief Payment has been used to cover costs. Services should only record amounts where Fee Relief funds were actually used to cover the costs of what families would have normally been required to pay e.g. where Fee Relief funds were used to cover the cost of enrolment fees, administration fees, resources, excursions.

If families actually paid additional fees such as enrolment/administration, resources, excursions etc, don’t record that amount in Part 1 Fee Relief Payment.

Actual payments paid by families are recorded in the Income section in Part 2 – Program Payment.

A separate statement that reconciles with the Fee Relief Income and Liability accounts should be attached to this financial accountability statement.

For 2022-2023 reporting period this statement can be a simple spreadsheet high-level summary, or a high-level summary extract of Fee Relief income and expenditure from the service’s software system. Services also have the option of using the section of their audited/non-audited financial income and expenditure statements from their accountant or bookkeeper that shows the Fee Relief Income and Liability accounts.

Note: For future supporting statements, services will be required to supply an extract summary from their financial software.

More information on the spending rules for Fee Relief can be found under Program Requirements of the relevant program guidelines.

Can I use any surplus from Fee Relief to operational expenses after I have applied the funding to level 1 ‘reduce the daily fees as much as possible for 600 hours per year for eligible children accessing fee relief at the service?

No, services must first apply the funding in the order noted in Fee Relief Payment Spending Rules i.e. if there is any surplus after applying the funding to level 1 ‘reduce the daily fees as much as possible for 600 hours per year for eligible children accessing fee relief at the service’, you must firstly apply this surplus to level 2 ‘reduce the cost of additional charges to families accessing fee relief at the service’.

If there is any surplus after applying against level 2, then any surplus funds can be applied against one or all of the options at level 3 which includes reducing the operating expense of the service per the Program Payment spending rules.

Note: The amount entered in Expenditure item iii) # will be automatically deducted from the operating expenses noted in Part 2 Program Payment.

Services must confirm that:

  • Fee Relief in the form of a reduction to fees has been passed on to families
  • signed fee relief declaration forms have been received for each child enrolled at the service where families have not claimed the Fee Relief at another service. This is applicable to Start Strong for Community Preschools program only.

For more information, please see Fee Relief Payment Spending Rules of the relevant program guidelines.

Note: Declaration forms related to Fee Relief Funding and are different to consent forms.

2.1.2. Part 2 – Program Payment

Income and expenditure for the Start Strong Mobile Preschool Contracts and Mobile Preschool Funding Program is now reported on the one template.

Services receiving payments under both Start Strong for Mobile Preschools and Mobile Preschools Funding Programs will note a combined total income amount on the accountability.

There are two columns within the financial accountability statement where services are required to complete both income and expenditure as noted below:

DoE Funds Non-DoE Funds

Includes:

  • Total program payments as income
  • DoE Funds surplus carried forward from previous financial accountability statement.
  • Expenditure by line-item relating to the ECO Start Strong for Community Preschools, Mobile Preschools Contracts or Mobile Preschool Funding Program grant only.

Includes:

  • Income from other sources other than the department.
  • Surplus carried forward from prior years (entered manually by service) noted on previous financial accountability statement.
  • Expenditure by line item where service has used funds from other sources to cover costs.

Note: Amounts noted on the financial accountability statement should clearly agree with the figures reported in the service’s audited/non-audited financial income and expenditure statements from your accountant or bookkeeper. There should be a clear breakdown of income from all sources, and expenditure for the service funding specification.

Income statement

This column includes the Start Strong for Community Preschools/Mobile Preschools Contracts/Mobile Preschool Funding Program funding provided by the department during the reporting period, which is automatically prefilled.

Note: No values are required for the greyed-out cells.

The final surplus noted in DoE Funds column on the previous year's financial accountability statement will be automatically carried forward to this current year’s financial accountability statement if it has not been refunded already.

This column should only include funds received from sources other than the department.

Don’t include any other department grant funding amounts e.g. Free Relief Payments, Disability and Inclusion Program, Community Grants etc.

These grants will be acquitted on their own financial accountability statement.

Enter income received from families paying to use the early childhood education and care service.

Simple rule: If families paid fees, include in Part 2 Program section. If Fee Relief funding was used to cover fees, and families didn’t pay, include the amount in Part 1 Fee Relief Payment section.

Note: Don’t include Fee Relief Payments funding, Start Strong Free Preschool, COVID-19 Free Preschool or any other department grant funding under this section. These grants will be acquitted on their own financial accountability statement.

Enter any grant income received from other sources not provided by the department. This may include specific assistance funding from other NSW Government departments, local councils, commonwealth funding and local community associations etc e.g. Landcare projects, water tanks, etc.

Enter profit/gain from the sale of an asset that was purchased with department funding.

Enter other income as reported in your audited/non-audited financial income and expenditure statements that is not acquitted elsewhere e.g. Trainee grants, maternity leave payments or for older accountabilities, the JobKeeper and Jobseeker, Cashflow Boost payments.

Note: Don’t include Fee Relief Payment funding or any other department grant funding under this section. These grants will be acquitted on their own financial accountability.

Surplus funds noted in the Non-DoE column on the previous year's financial accountability statement should be manually entered on this current year financial accountability statement. Please don’t enter a deficit amount.

Note: This is not the surplus amount noted on your audited/non-audited financial income and expenditure statements from your accountant/bookkeeper. The surplus noted on your audited/non-audited financial income and expenditure statements is a combination of all your income and expenditure.

Expenditure statement

Expenditure should be divided between the two columns.

Please split and show expenditure relative to both DoE Funds and Non-DoE Funds in each column.

Note: You must enter values into each column. Please refer to the two guidance notes below:

  1. For some expenditure categories where splitting is difficult (such as 'Salaries and Wages'), a revenue % apportion basis can be used as a guide e.g. if the total income for DoE Funds is $60,000 and Non-DoE Funds is $40,000 totalling to $100,000 then 60% of expenditure can be apportioned to DoE Funds column and 40% to Non-DoE Funds column.
  2. If the NSW Department of Education is the major funder e.g. if total income for DoE Funds is $90,000 and Non-DoE Funds is $10,000 totalling to $100,000, then expenditure should be shown first in the DoE Funds column bringing the balance to $0, and remaining expenditure shown under the Non-DoE Funds column.

Keynote to consider

Where services receive multiple funding grants from the department e.g. Start Strong for Community Preschools / Mobile Preschool Program Payment and Fee Relief Payment, Disability and Inclusion funding, Quality and Participation funding etc, the income and expenditure amounts shown on your audited/non-audited financial income and expenditure statements from your accountant/bookkeeper are a combination of all grants / income streams and expenditure across all programs.

Remember to extract the income and expenditure relative to each program when completing your financial accountability statement.

It is not correct to transpose the total line-item amount on your audited/non-audited financial income and expenditure statements unless Start Strong for Community Preschools, Mobile Preschool Contracts or Mobile Preschool Funding Program grant funding is the only grant income your service received from the department.

Download our example excel table to break up your income and expenditure across all programs if not already separated.

If you received funding for the Disability and Inclusion Program or the COVID-19 Free Preschool Funding program, remember to first deduct wages paid to staff under these grants, from the total wages line-item on your audited/non-audited financial income and expenditure statements from your accountant/bookkeeper.

Do this before you enter the wages amounts into each wages line items on the financial accountability statement.

Use the guidance notes above to apportion the wages across the DoE Funds and Non-DoE Funds columns for both service delivery and administration and management staff.

Service delivery staff: Enter expenditure for staff directly involved in service delivery.

Administration and management staff: Enter expenditure for employees not directly involved with the service provision, such as administration, management, accounting, and co-ordination staff.

Note: The total wages line item on your audited/non-audited financial income and expenditure statements is a total of all wages paid using all sources of income.

It is not correct to transpose the total wages line-item amount on your financial statements unless Start Strong for Community Preschools, Mobile Preschool Contracts or Mobile Preschool Funding Program grant funding is the only grant income your service received from the department.

Traineeship and Maternity Leave Wages: If the service received Traineeship grants or Maternity Leave payments, or previously JobKeeper and JobSeeker (relative to previous funding periods) the wages expenditure of these amounts should be noted against Non-DOE column wages expenditure line items (Service delivery staff or administration / management staff) in the ‘Non-DoE Funds’ column as they were received from other sources, not the department.

Use the guidance note above (if required) to apportion the operating costs across the DoE Funds and Non-DoE Funds columns. Enter day-to-day operational expenses, not directly involved with the service provision.

Note: Do not include Fee Relief Payment, COVID-19 Free Preschool or any other DoE grant expenditure under this section. These grant amounts will have their own financial accountability statement.

Depreciation is a non-cash expense which represents the decline in value of an asset over an asset’s estimated useful life. To the extent that the asset is being utilised for direct service delivery of department-funded services and the asset is reflected on the Balance Sheet, the service can claim depreciation expenses as expenditure against department recurrent funding.

Enter the purchase of any funded assets or capital items funded through a department one-off or capital grant only.

Enter the loss incurred from the sale of an asset that was purchased with department funding.

Enter other expenses reported in the financial statements that have not been reported elsewhere. These could be financing expenses, compliance costs, legal and consultancy fees, etc. For mobile preschool operators, these could be vehicle costs, including usage and maintenance and leasing arrangements.

Note: The amount entered in Part 1 Fee Relief Payment Expenditure item iii) # will be automatically deducted from the DoE Funds column operating expenses. This is because the service will be acquitting that amount already under Part 1 Fee Relief Payment expenditure.

It is expected that services will expend the full DoE grant funds first, then cover any expenses over and above the DoE funding amount from their other sources of funding (Non-DoE Funds) and any retained profits.

The DoE Funds column total at this section should be $0.00 showing all department grant funds have been expended.

Note: There should not be a deficit noted in the DoE Funds column if a surplus is noted in the Non-DoE Funds column. Services would have used their Non-DoE Funds to cover the deficit noted in the DoE Funds column.

It is acceptable for the service to have surplus funds in the Non-DoE column after all DoE grant funds have been expended (showing $0.00 balance).

A deficit in both DoE Funds and Non-DoE Funds columns is acceptable if a service used all DoE Funds income as well as their Non-DoE Funds income and were required to use any retained profits to meet the shortfall to keep operating.

Any Balance/Deficit in the DoE Funds column will carry over to Part 3 – DOE Funding Surplus Overview and Declaration section. This is applicable to Start Strong for Community Preschools only. See further information below.

Add any additional notes on how the funds were spent. This section is optional.

Suggestion: Add a note if any Fee Relief surplus funds were applied to your program operational expenses.

2.1.4. Part 3 – DoE Funding Surplus Overview and Declaration

This section is applicable to Start Strong for Community Preschools only.

This section is used for trial purposes in 2022-23. New surplus and refunds guidelines will only be applicable from 2023-24 onwards.

Services should read information on Surplus and Refunds in the 2023 Start Strong for Community Preschools Guidelines before choosing to retain any surplus up to, or greater than 10% of the Start Strong for Community Preschools annual program. Visit Start Strong for Community Preschools to access the guidelines.

Services are required to expend all annual Start Strong for Community Preschools funding in accordance with the spending rules in the program guidelines during the relevant program period.

A surplus amount will be noted in the bottom row at ‘Total Surplus’ with a calculated percentage of what that surplus amount is to the annual 2023 Start Strong for Community Preschools Program.

Surplus (DoE Funding) Amount ($) excluding GST
Part 1 – Fee Relief balance (excluding Reserved Fee Relief Funds) $0.00
Part 2 – Program Payment balance $0.00
Total Surplus $0.00
Service Total Program Surplus Percentage Calculation %

The department understands that some providers may have a surplus at the end of their reporting period which needs to be returned to the department according to the Terms and Conditions.

Surpluses will be identified and validated through the annual acquittal process.

Surplus Thresholds and options for providers (please select Option A or Option B).

Use the ECCMS calculated percentage of the surplus threshold to choose the Option relative to your service.

Option A: Approved services can choose to retain surpluses below 10% or $30,000 (whichever is higher) of the Start Strong for Community Preschools *annual program funding or choose to return their surplus funds.

Option B: Approved services can choose to retain surpluses up to, and greater than 10% or $30,000 (whichever is higher) of the Start Strong for Community Preschools *annual program funding.

For Option B, the service will be required to make application to retain the surplus funds by completing the Surplus Application Form and checking the confirmation box on the financial accountability statement. The Surplus Application Form will be available soon and more details will be communicated.

The service can also decide to return the surplus which is greater than 10% or $30,000 (whichever is higher) of the Start Strong for Community Preschools annual program funding* or choose to return all their surplus funds (up to and greater than 10% or $30,000).

*This amount is the total income for both Part 1 – Fee Relief Payment and Part 2 – Program Payment.

How do I know how much of the surplus I can keep?

The service will firstly need to calculate 10% of the annual Start Strong for Community Preschools Program Funding.

See the examples below:

  1. The service will calculate the 10% of the annual Start Strong for Community Preschools Program funding e.g. $380,000 x 10% = $38,000. This is calculated using the annual program funding (total of Fee Relief Payment plus Program Payment).
  2. ECCMS will calculate the surplus amount into a percentage e.g. $27,000 ÷ $380,000 x 100 = 7.1%,

If the surplus is up 10% or $30,000 (whichever is greater) of the annual program funding, the service should select Option A.

If the surplus threshold is greater than 10% or $30,000 (whichever is greater) of the annual program funding, the service should select Option B.

Example 1 – Option A
Total Program Funding (including Fee Relief and Program payments) $380,000
Total Surplus at Part 3 $27,000
ECCMS Surplus % Calculation ($27,000 ÷ $380,000 x 100) 7.1%
10% of Start Strong Annual Program (10% of $380,000) $38,000

Service can choose to keep the amount below 10% of program funding or $30,000 (whichever is greater).

As $27,000 is less than $38,000 (10% of the annual program funding), the service can opt to keep the surplus to carry over to the next funding period.

Example 2 – Option B
Total Program Funding (including Fee Relief and Program payments) $380,000
Total Surplus at Part 3 $42,000
ECCMS Surplus % Calculation ($42,000 ÷ $380,000 x 100) 11.05%
10% of Start Strong Annual Program (10% of $380,000) $38,000

Service can choose to keep $38,000 (up to 10% of program funding).

Additionally, where the service has an operational need to retain the surplus, they can apply to the department to keep the surplus amount which is greater than 10% or $30,000 (whichever is higher).

This is done by the service by firstly completing the Surplus Application Form and then checking the confirmation box (the top box at Option B) on the financial accountability statement. The Surplus Application Form will be available soon and more details will be communicated.

Service can choose to keep the additional $4,000 which is the amount above the $38,000 (higher than 10% or $30,000).

Further information on the management of surplus funds can be found in the Management of Surplus Funds section below.

Financial Attachments

Financial reporting requirements depend on whether the service provider is classified as a Tier 1 or Tier 2 organisation under NSW Fair Trading guidelines.

This year there is an additional attachment in the list. Services will need to attach a separate statement that reconciles with the Start Strong Fee Relief Income and Liability accounts.

For further information on the required documents to attach under this section, please refer to the Financial Reporting Requirements section above.

2.2. Start Strong Long Day Care 2022-2023 (SSLD)

This section is relevant to services who received funding under the 2022-2023 (or prior) Start Strong Long Day Care Program (SSLD).

Services should read the program guidelines before completing the financial accountability statement.

Section 4.4 Financial Accountability provides a step-by-step instruction for completing the financial accountability statement in ECCMS.

Note: The 2022-2023 Start Strong Long Day Care (SSLD) accountability captures funding from 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023.

Income section

This section is automatically pre-filled by ECCMS based on the total payments made to the service under this program.

Expenditure section

Expenditure of funds should be divided up between the relative line items on the financial accountability statement.

Spending rules allow services to spend funding on one, two or all three line items, including:

  • purchase of functional or education resources
  • development of an ECE program based on the Early Years Learning Framework
  • development of staff, including upgrading qualifications.

Add supporting information to how funds were spent in the Additional Information section.

Note: The 2022-2023 Start Strong Long Day Care program finished in December, 2022 and has been replaced by the 2023 Start Strong for Long Day Care program - SSL. The new 2023 Start Strong for Long Day Care– SSL program funding is not included in the 2022-2023 Start Strong Long Day Care accountability income and expenditure.

2.3. Start Strong Capital Works (CapWorks)

This section is relevant to services received funding under the Start Strong Capital Works Program during the last reporting period.

Services should read the 2022-2023 Start Strong Capital Works Grants Program guidelines before completing the financial accountability statement.

Income section

This section is automatically pre-filled by ECCMS based on the total payments made to the service for the project under this program.

Expenditure section

Expenditure of funds should be noted against the relative line item on the financial accountability statement:

  • Major Capital Fund
  • Crisis Fund
  • Minor Capital Fund
  • Mobile Fund.

Note: At the completion of a capital works project, services are required to complete a project completion report. The project completion report is required to receive the final milestone payment from the department.

Services are also required to complete the financial accountability statement showing how funding was expended against the project.

2.4. Start Strong Pathways (SSP)

This section is relevant to services received funding under the Start Strong Pathways Program (SSP) during the last reporting period.

Services should read the Start Strong Pathways program guidelines.

Income section

This section is automatically pre-filled by ECCMS based on the total annual payments made to the service within the reporting period.

The final surplus noted on the previous year's Start Strong Pathways financial accountability statement will be automatically carried forward to this current year’s financial accountability statement if it has not been refunded already.

Expenditure section

Services must provide details of how the funding was spent in accordance with the Start Strong Pathways program guidelines spending rules.

See more information on the spending rules in the program guidelines.

Expenditure of funds should be divided up between the relative Spending Rules line items on the financial accountability statement.

Add further information to how funds were spent in the Additional Information section.

Note: SSP related wages recorded on the SSP financial accountability statement should not be included in wages expenditure on the Preschool/Mobile Preschool financial accountability statement.

Service providers are required to certify that funds have been spent in accordance with the Terms and Conditions of the early childhood education grants program.

Financial attachments

Financial reporting requirements depend on whether the service provider is classified as a Tier 1 or Tier 2 organisation under NSW Fair Trading guidelines.

For further information on the required documents to attach under this section please refer to the Financial Reporting Requirements section above.

2.5. Disability and Inclusion Program (DIP)

This section is relevant to services who received funding under the Disability and Inclusion Program during the last reporting period.

Services should read the guidelines relative to both High Learning Support Needs Funds (HLSN) and DIP Minor Capital Works Fund (MCW) via the Disability and Inclusion Program page before completing the financial accountability statement.

Income section

This section is automatically pre-filled by ECCMS based on the total payments made to the service for each component under this program.

The financial accountability statement is separated into two components – High Learning Support Needs and Minor Capital Works.

A $0.00 will be noted in the income and expenditure box if the service did not receive this funding.

Expenditure section

Expenditure of funds should be divided up between the relative line items on the financial accountability statement.

Please refer to the individual spending rules under each component of the funding:

  • HLSN
  • MCW.

Add supporting information to how funds were spent in each relative Additional Information section.

Note: HLSN related wages recorded on the DIP financial accountability statement should not be included in wages expenditure on the Preschool/Mobile Preschool financial accountability statement.

2.6. Aboriginal Families as Teachers (AFaT)

This section is relevant to services received funding under the Aboriginal Families as Teachers program during the last reporting period.

Services should read the 2022-2023 Aboriginal Families as Teachers (AFaT) program guidelines.

Income section

This section is automatically pre-filled by ECCMS based on the total annual and one-off payments made to the service within the reporting period.

Expenditure section

Services must provide details of how the funding was spent in accordance with the Aboriginal Families as Teachers (AFaT) program guidelines spending rules.

See more information on the spending rules in the program guidelines.

Add further information to how funds were spent in the Additional Information section.

2.7. Ninganah No More (NNM)

This section is relevant to services received funding under the Ninganah No More program during the last reporting period.

Services should read the Ninganah No More (NNM) guidelines.

Income section

This section is automatically pre-filled by ECCMS based on the total annual and one-off payments made to the service within the reporting period.

Expenditure section

Services must provide details of how the funding was spent in accordance with the Ninganah No More (NNM) guidelines spending rules.

See more information on the spending rules in the program guidelines.

Add further information to how funds were spent in the Additional Information section.

2.8. Grow Your Own (ECEC)

This section is relevant to services who received funding under the Grow Your Own program for Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) during 2021-2022 and 2022-2023.

Services should read the Grow Your Own for ECEC program guidelines.

The Grow Your Own funding was launched by the department in the 2021-2022 financial year. This is the first time a financial accountability statement is being released for this program.

Note: The financial accountability statement will capture funding paid to services during 2021-2022 and 2022-2023.

Income section

This section is automatically pre-filled by ECCMS based on the total payments made to the service under this program.

Expenditure section

Services should only include expenditure relating to the funding they received from the department under this program on the financial accountability statement.

Trainee scholarship subsidies (amounts paid by the department to trainees) are not included in the financial accountability statement.

Note: Wages paid to trainees under this program included in this financial accountability statement should not be noted on your Start Strong for Community Preschool financial accountability statement.

3. Management of surplus funds

The department ECO grant surplus funding may need to be returned to the department.

3.1. Funding deficits from previous years

If a service has incurred a deficit in prior years, this deficit cannot be carried forward and should be absorbed by the service provider.

3.2. Transfer/reallocation of funds

Service providers cannot transfer grant funding between services from different grant program, unless specifically permitted in the program guidelines e.g. Start Strong Fee Relief funds to Start Strong Program payment.

Additionally, any surplus funds cannot be transferred to other service providers, in between services or across funded programs, unless it is permitted specifically in the program guidelines.

3.3. Recovery of funds

As outlined in the Early Childhood Outcomes (ECO) Grants Terms and Conditions, a service provider is required to return any unexpended funds in accordance with the department’s requirements. Unexpended funds are ECO grant funding not actually spent or committed for the purposes specified in the relevant program guidelines.

Service providers with any surplus funds to be recovered or returned should contact the department. The department will advise the service provider, after reviewing the accountability, whether these funds will be recovered by offset or if they should be returned to the department.

3.4. Offsets against future payments

In some cases where program guidelines specifically permit, a surplus will be recovered by offsetting future grant payments. Money owed to the department will be deducted from future payments to the service provider until the entire surplus is recovered. Service providers are expected to adjust their accounts to transfer the surplus funds to the operational account where the grant payment would have been deposited.

3.5. Process for return of funds to the department

In instances where an offset cannot be used to recover a surplus, for example where a service provider no longer receives ECO grant funding or where it is not allowable under program guidelines, funds must be returned in accordance with the department’s requirements.

If a service provider is required to return funds to the department, they will receive an invoice for payment, specifying the program, amount and the service to which the request relates, as well as payment options.

4. Financial accountability statement review

The following review process will be undertaken:

  • Financial accountability statements will be reviewed by the department.
  • If any issues have been identified the service provider will be contacted to clarify and amend the financial accountability statement where necessary.
  • The financial accountability statement may also be reviewed by an external auditor engaged by the department.
  • If there are any compliance issues identified, the department will contact the service provider.

If a service provider is seeking clarification of a financial accountability statement review, a written request should be made to ECEAudit.funding@det.nsw.edu.au.

Category:

  • Early childhood education
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