Flexible Initiatives Trial

With a total pool of $20 million from the Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund, the Flexible Initiatives Trial will empower early childhood education and care providers to better cater for the needs of local families and increase the availability of places for children in New South Wales where and when they are needed most.

There is strong evidence that a lack of flexible early childhood education and care (ECEC) service offerings is a significant barrier to work and study for NSW families, particularly for parents and carers who are in part-time, casual or shift work.

We also know that ECEC services face a range of a barriers to meeting this need.

Running from 2023 to 2025, the 2-year Flexible Initiatives Trial has been especially designed to target these barriers by providing grants for early childhood education and care services to test and trial new or adapted operating models, including:

  • extending hours of operation beyond traditional working hours
  • providing flexible pick-up and drop-off times
  • giving families the ability to make irregular care arrangements
  • establishing new family day care services in rural and remote areas
  • partnerships between 2 different service types to provide extended or wrap around care arrangements.


Applications for grants under the program are open to all eligible ECEC service providers offering education and care for children aged 0-6 in New South Wales.

If you are a prospective applicant for a Flexible Initiatives Trial grant, we encourage you to:

  • read the overview on this page
  • watch the video recording of our information session
  • read the detailed program guidelines to understand everything you need to know before applying
  • have a look at the example scenarios to get some ideas about what your service might do with a Flexible Initiatives Trial grant
  • familiarise yourself with how to apply
  • Contact our team with any questions or if you need help.

Key dates

There will be two rounds of applications for the Flexible Initiatives Trial. Note that as this is a test and trial program, funding will be offered for 12 months:

Grant activity Round 1 Round 2
Applications open 28 September 2023 To be confirmed
Online information session 1 12 October 2023 To be confirmed
Online information session 2 24 October 2023 To be confirmed
Applications close 5pm 1 December 2023 To be confirmed
Applications assessed 31 December 2023 To be confirmed
Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund Board approval 29 February 2024 To be confirmed
Notification of outcome 30 March 2024 To be confirmed
Grant delivery From April 2024
(12 months)
To be confirmed
Evaluation commences June 2024 To be confirmed
End of grant funding March 2025 To be confirmed

Information session

Watch the recording of our online information session held on 12 October 2023. Please note that while the question and answer segments are not included in the video, some additions have been made to our frequently asked questions in response to questions asked at both information sessions.

Also note: ‘the subsidy’ in the first scenario presented in this video refers to the Australian Government child care subsidy.

Program managers, Tina Bidese, Michelle Milnes and Caitlin Anear introduce the Flexible Initiatives Trial.

Kate Hancock

Well it's 12 o'clock, so welcome everybody and thank you for coming along for our Flexible Initiatives Trial information session today.

I'd like to start with an Acknowledgement of Country. We recognise the ongoing custodians, the lands, and the waterways where we live and work. We pay respects to Elders past and present as ongoing teachers of knowledge, songlines and stories, and we strive to ensure every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander learner in New South Wales achieves their potential through education.

I'd like to take a moment to hand over to Tina Bidese who's going to talk a bit more about the Fund and the work that we're doing in this space. So Tina, welcome.

Tina Bidese

Thanks Kate.

Hi everybody, and thank you so much for making the time to join us today to hear about the Flexible Initiatives Trial. As Kate said, my name's Tina Bidese, I'm joining you from beautiful Wangal Country today, and I'm the Director of the Childcare Fund Delivery team at the Department of Education. It's my absolute pleasure to welcome you to this session and to introduce this program to all of you.

The ECEC Flexible Initiatives Trial, or the FIT as we fondly call it, is the first program to be released under the Childcare and Economic Opportunity Fund. And this program's aiming to support children, families, and you as the sector to help make early childhood education and care more accessible and flexible.

So it's been my privilege over the last 6 months or so to work with the Childcare Economic Opportunity Fund Board and all of our fantastic teams in early childhood outcomes, and you'll meet some of those people today to help develop this Trial, which is really the first program coming from the Fund, and the first program of many new programs that will be administered under the Fund over the coming years.

If you've had a chance to look at the guidelines, you'll see that this program is not taking a cookie cutter approach. We are really interested in hearing from you as the services in the sector about what will work for your communities and your families to make ECEC more accessible regardless of where you are in New South Wales. And that's really the focus of the FIT.

So we are really looking for a diversity of applications from services across the sector. We're looking to have a balanced mix of applications that are funded in the end. But I guess what I want to point out is that the Fund in its first year is really all about testing and trialling. So we are not saying that this is the answer, we are not saying we've got this exactly right. What we're saying is we understand there's this issue and we're looking to you as the people working in the sector to say to us, look, this is what we think will work for our communities and our families.

And then we're looking to be as supportive as we can of the initiatives that you put forward in the Trial. So I think keep that in mind. We don't have the answers. We're actually asking you for what the answers will be, and we're really interested in learning from this particular program.

So we'll be starting on evaluation very early in the program and using the information that we glean from you and the families taking part to help inform future policies and programs. So I hope you find the session today really useful. Ask lots of questions and we'll come back to you with the answers if we don't have them today. And I'm going to hand back now to Kate.

Kate Hancock

Thanks Tina, much appreciated. I'll shortly hand you all over to the program Manager, Michelle Milnes, who will tell you about the Flexible Initiatives Trial and outline the key features, walking us through a few scenarios to showcase some of the things you might consider doing with funding under the program.

Then we'll introduce Caitlin Anear from our implementation team who'll explain the nuts and bolts of how the program works and outline things you need to think about before you start putting together an application for the program. She'll also be able to give you a few tips and tricks to ensure your application has the best chance of success.

We do expect a lot of questions so I want to assure you that we will undertake to answer any unanswered questions in our FAQ section on the department's website after this session, and we invite you to follow up with a phone call or an email to the team if you have a particularly curly one we haven't been able to get to today.

I'll now hand you over to Michelle for an overview of the program.

Michelle Milnes

Thanks so much Kate and thanks to everyone for joining us today.

So the Flexible Initiatives Trial. There's strong evidence to suggest that a lack of flexible early childhood education and care service offerings can be a significant barrier to work and study for New South Wales families, particularly for parents and carers who are in part-time, casual, shift work, or facing lengthy commutes.

We also know that early childhood education and care services face a range of barriers to meeting the needs of families and their flexibility needs. So in response to this problem, running from 2023 to 2025, the Flexible Initiatives Trial has been specifically designed to target these barriers by providing grants for early childhood education and care services to test and trial new or adapted operating models.

We really know that services know their families and communities best, and the FIT trial offers an opportunity for services to trial solutions to see what works best for their unique context.

It's really important to note that this is not a one size fits all grant program, and so it's important for you to imagine what you could do with a FIT grant for your service and your community. It's really versatile program so we're really looking at to you as service providers to tell us what it is that you think is going to work for you.

Some things to note about the way the program has been designed is that all early childhood education and care service types and locations are available, and it's really exciting to see that we've got a really good mix of service providers and service types and locations here on the call today. Just acknowledging the additional challenges faced by service providers offering ECEC in different locations. Additional weightings have been provided for applicants who are located in an area with a SEIFA decile of 1 or 2 are located in areas that are remote and very remote according to ARIA classification and are classed as Multifunctional Aboriginal Children's Services, or Aboriginal Controlled Children's services, or Aboriginal Child and Family Centres. You can find out if your service meets any of the additional weightings criteria by visiting the program guidelines on the Department of Education website.

There are 2 streams of funding available, and service providers can apply for one or both and you can put in multiple applications if you operate more than one service.

Stream 1, the flexible service delivery stream is one service provider in one location. So here we're looking for service providers to trial smaller scale operating model changes such as extending their hours or potentially increasing their places. Also falling inside this Stream 1 is the establishment of new family day care locations by existing providers in outer regional, remote and very remote areas.

Stream 2 is our blended service delivery stream, and here this looks like 2 service providers located in the same community, offering extended or more accessible early childhood education and care services. This might look like the provision of wraparound care to a community based preschool by a local family day care service or before and after school care service.

It's important to note this is a competitive grant with clear assessment criteria, and Caitlin will go into the assessment criteria in more detail later. Again, it's very versatile. So really, I keep stressing, we are looking for service providers to innovate and look at what you could do with the grant in your local community.

We've prepared a range of different example scenarios. So at first glance when you're looking at the FIT program, you might be wondering what types of education and care arrangements might best suit your particular context and how you might collect information to prepare a suitable application.

So in these scenarios we've tried to outline we're expecting the most common applications to look like. It's really important that you look at each scenario through the lens of your own service type and the needs of your own community and know that what might be right for one service and one community might not be a good fit for your community but a different adaptation might be.

So scenario 1 highlights stream 1. In this scenario, a long day care service is located close to a hospital with many parents and carers already utilising the service and they're working irregular shifts with early starts and late finishes. The service has sent out surveys to existing families and found that more than 10 families would be interested in extending their hours of care for more than 3 days of the week. As such, the service puts together an action plan and budget in line with the activities that could be funded under the Flexible Initiatives Trial.

You can see we provided an example of what this budget might look like and is indicative only and we really encourage applicants to consider the cost that they may incur to the delivery of their trial initiative in their own service and community. This service intends to hire two diploma trained educators to work the evening hour shift, providing education and routine based care. The service also recognises the potential cost for families and is has applied a 50% subsidy for the out of hours care component.

This particular scenario offers families the option of extended hours, or the ability to shift their hours of care to suit the need, the hours that are needed for their work and their study.

Additionally, the service promotes its extended hours service in the local community and at the hospital to attract families for whom the ECEC service may not have been able to cater for previously.

Throughout the trial, the service collects data to ensure the extended hours are being occupied, and provides the service time and evidence to develop a sustainable strategy for continuing the initiative beyond the funding period.

Scenario 2, again, falls within stream 1, and in this scenario we have a small remote town where there's not enough demand for the local community to sustain a long day care or community preschool service. The demand for care became evident, however, when community health nurses identified their parents and caregivers were unable to return to work without adequate ECEC.

To meet this need, a local approved provider already operating a successful family daycare service in a regional area applies for a grant through the FIT to establish a new family day care location to cater for preschool aged children and under.

So the provider first surveys families local to the town to determine the demand for days, hours, and the ages of the children requiring care.

Given the distance many families would need to travel and the barriers to transportation faced, the provider also identifies the transportation of children would be required.

An application for the FIT is prepared by the approved provider in conjunction with a family day care educator who's completed the Certificate III.

The application also outlines any minor capital works costs required to equip a home centrally located within a hub town, the costs associated with staffing and transportation of children to and from the service along with the regulatory fees associated with establishing a new family day care location.

Again, you can see we've provided you with some sample costing, costed out by line item under the Budget heading. We're looking here for a full-time educator to be subsidised for the establishment of the program. So that's approximately 3 months duration. We've also identified that there may be some training requirements, we've costed out for minor capital works, as well as transportation.

But again, this is indicative only and we really encourage applicants to think about the cost that they'll incur in the delivery of their initiative. The establishment of the service here alongside the provision of transportation allows children to engage in small group education and care while supporting families to return to the workforce.

Scenario 3 falls within Stream 2. So this illustrates one of the partnerships or more complex arrangements that might be possible under the Flexible Initiatives Trial.

This scenario outlines a partnership between a community-based preschool and a before and after school care service who join forces to provide extended care options for families needing education and care beyond the traditional preschool hours offered.

The partnership comes about through necessity as families of the preschool have been sharing their inability to return to work or attend the work hours required due the limited hours of education and care provided by the preschool.

The community preschool surveys families to determine the need for extended hours, but the rental agreement of the preschool disallowed them from extending their hours. So the preschool reached out to the before and after school care service located on the same block as the preschool to determine if a partnership might be able to be arranged.

Between the services, an action plan is developed, fostering an innovative and collaborative solution.

Again, the services establish a budget covering the cost of educators employed specifically to support the preschool children and facilitate continuity of care, ensuring a seamless education and care experience. Resources are also included in this particular budget to ensure that the before and after school care facilities are fit for purpose, inclusive of all ages, and foster a really lovely sense of community.

Effective communication and collaboration plays a pivotal role, and the initiative offers opportunities for the preschool children to establish deeper links with this small local community and facilitate transition to school.

Monitoring children's progress and gathering feedback from families, assessing the outcomes of the blended service model are all the guiding principles for this particular initiative, and this ensures a continuous journey of improvement and collaborative education and care.

Thanks Kate.

Kate Hancock

What I'll do now is hand over to Caitlin Anear, who's our program Manager of Commissioned programs, to talk a bit more about the actual grant application process.

Caitlin Anear

Wonderful, thank you, Kate. There were some great questions that came up I thought that was fantastic.

Hello everyone. My name is, as Kate said, Caitlin Anear. And over the next few slides I'm going to take you through the application process and what is required for services to be eligible for the FIT program funding.

So the first step really when you're having a look at whether or not you might want to apply for this program is to read the guidelines. They're available on the website and they contain all of the information that you're going to need to know to make some decisions about whether or not you want to be involved.

When you're having a look at them, it's really important to consider the eligibility rules, review the assessment criteria, and also have a look at what can and cannot be funded through the FIT trial. When you're having a look at eligibility, keep in mind that applications from providers whose services are rated as 'working towards' or 'not yet assessed' will only be considered in limited circumstances. And for the approved providers who might be seeking to establish a new family day care service in outer, regional, remote, or very remote areas, they must already have at least one assessed and rated service operating in New South Wales as well. So they're just a few detailed specifics, I suppose, of the eligibility rules that you need to have a close look at.

Step 2 is- once you've had a look through the guidelines is to read through the frequently asked questions and the scenarios. So the couple of scenarios that Michelle has run through earlier, there are 6 of them I believe that are available on the website. So have a really good look at them to help you to consider what you might want to start thinking about in your own local area.

You will need to be able to write quite a comprehensive application that covers off all of the evaluation criteria. So you need to have a really good understanding of what the program is intended to do and what the objectives are.

Alright, we're going to jump into sort of understanding the assessment criteria. So Michelle's mentioned that the Flexible Initiatives Trial has a competitive assessment process, and your application needs to include all of the information that you want the panel to be considering through that process. So anything you want us to know, make sure you include it in your application so we've got all the information at hand to make a decision.

There are 6 key assessment criteria.

Number 1 is about demonstrating the local need. So you'll need to start by assessing the needs within your local community. What you'll need to be able to demonstrate what your flexible solution that you're proposing, and what the evidence of that need is. And it's likely to probably be a little bit more than just a conversation or some informal conversations that you've had with local families. So one approach for example might be that you survey your local families, that might not just be the parents and carers of the children currently accessing your service. It could be more broadly as well to get a really good understanding of the needs of flexibility and what that might look like.

We've outlined the number of ideas about how you can demonstrate that local needs and flexibility in your own community in both FAQs and the scenarios and in the program guidelines as well. So there's lots of support out there for you to understand the different ways in which you might be able to do that.

The second assessment criteria is around demonstrating that the needs of the children, the maintenance of quality education and care and staff wellbeing have all been considered through your proposal as well. The application will outline, sorry, the application will ask you to outline how you're going to ensure that the needs of children and staff are being considered and met throughout the proposal. So some things you might want to think about is how will you make sure that the, excuse me, how will you make sure that the quality of education and care is maintained throughout the flexible initiative that you're proposing? And it's really important to keep in mind that all proposals must balance the delivery of increased flexibility with the continuation of quality ECE for all children at the service, both those attending the flexible and also those that are just attending I suppose what are your regular service that you provide.

The third assessment criteria is demonstrating that the proposed activities will be accessible to all the children and families of your local community. So how will your service ensure that all children and families in your local community have the same opportunity to access the flexible offerings if that was something that their families wanted to be able to access? What adjustments might you need to provide for children who might need additional support, or perhaps how are you going to work with families in your local community where English may not be their first language and how are you going to make sure that they can still be involved in the flexible offering?

So that is going to look very, very different for each of the streams of the proposals, and also of course what your own local communities look like. So what we'll be looking for in the assessment is to make sure that you have outlined what your local community looks like and feels like, and what those needs are, and then how you're going to be able to meet those needs.

Each proposal must also outline how it meets one or more of the key objectives of the program. So the key objectives are just to the right of the slide in the circle graphic. We've got increased accessibility of ECE for families who need more flexible options, including the increase in the number of available places.

Increasing participation, particularly of women in work and or study, which is enabled by their increased access to ECE services. So your proposal for that flexible service means that they might be able to participate more in the workforce or study.

An increase in service provider knowledge of the local flexibility needs and the capacity to meet those needs, both during the trial, and also of course at the end when we're looking at that cessation as well.

Providing appropriate support and working conditions for educators who are delivering the flexible model, and developing an evidence base for successful flexible models to inform future program development.

Finally, applications will be assessed on how you will evaluate or determine the success of your trial program, and also of course sustain or cease the program activities beyond the funded period with consideration to participating children and families, which Michelle has spoken a little bit about and answered a couple of questions on.

Okay, so once you've had a look at the assessment criteria, you're really ready to start building your application. So you've considered how your proposal will meet the assessment criteria and you're ready to start pulling everything together.

So keep in mind, applications will be lodged online using SmartyGrants. And if you've not used it before, you will need to register. It's free, it's relatively easy to set up and get into the system. And we've got a couple of phone numbers and bits and pieces at the end if you are having any trouble with that. You shouldn't do, it's not too bad.

Once you've got your access to SmartyGrants all set up, you'll be able to download a copy of the application form. We really recommend you do this because what it will mean is you'll be able to see exactly the way that the questions are posed and how you are to answer them. It'll also give you advice on how much information for each we are looking for. So there are some word limits, both minimum and maximum throughout the assessment, sorry, throughout the application form. So downloading a copy of it will just give you a really good chance to know exactly what you're going to be asked.

Each of the assessment criteria will require a written response. So you'll need to make sure that you're gathering any evidence or supporting information that you want to be able to provide as part of your application, either to include in your written response, or in certain instances, there is availability to upload additional documents as well.

Your application will need to include a budget breakdown, and you saw a couple of very brief examples I suppose, in the scenarios. You can attach quotes or any other evidence or supporting information in relation to your budget and the funding requests as well. So if you already have some quotes for example, or you have some evidence to show what you do pay your workforce for example, those sorts of things can be added as some additional evidence when you are providing your budget.

In the guidelines, there is a checklist, and we recommend that you make sure you have on hand a copy of that checklist. So as you are building your application, you can go through, and you know, cross off what you've already done and what you're still working on.

You'll need to actually start your application in SmartyGrants. You can save the application as you go and return when ready, so you don't need to do it all in one go. You might also want to draft up your questions outside of SmartyGrants as well, and you have the ability to be able to, you know, quite easily copy-paste text in and out as well. So for those who might want to do it outside of the system, you can do and then just pop it in there once you're ready.

Just a reminder around dates and application dates. So round one is currently open, and there are links to SmartyGrants, the specific SmartyGrants link to pop in an application, both on the webpages in the guidelines, basically anywhere we're talking about the FIT, there's links through to everything you need to know. This round's applications will close at 5pm on the first of December. This is a really important date to keep in mind, and late applications will not be accepted. And also to note except in very limited circumstances, anything that you have missed, including in your application once you've submitted it, you won't be able to add after the fact either or after the round has closed. So it's really important that you make sure you've got everything ready to go and it's all included in the application before you hit that Submit button.

Okay, I'm going to go through a couple of the tricky bits. It's important to understand what can and cannot be funded. So I'm not going to go through the list of what can be funded because it's really never ending, but there are some specific things that can't be funded. This information is in the guidelines, but I think it might be worth outlining here.

So staff costs and operating expenses not directly related to the program initiative that you're proposing. Services located outside of New South Wales. Activities that do not align with the programming objectives, which are the objectives that we just went through. Activities that do not meet the requirements outlined in the guidelines, activities that do not meet the assessment criteria. Initiatives that have at the time of assessment of the application being completed, so anything that you have already done or paid for or set up and got ready won't be able to be funded. Activities already funded through another source, or any activities in contravention of the funding agreement, which will be signed by successful applicants. So it's just a list of what can't be funded.

Also a reminder that the initiative does not cover any retrospective funding, and the initiative does not cover activities that have been funded by another state or federal grant program either.

For those that might be considering the establishment of a new family day care service, it's also really important that you've considered that the proposed service is going to be established in outer, regional, remote, or sorry, outer regional, remote, and very remote areas of New South Wales. And you can check, you can make sure that the proposed service address meets that requirement by using the ARIA classification guide. Again, the links to that are all in the guidelines so that you'll be able to have a look at where the proposed address is and make sure that it fits within one of those areas.

You'll also need to make sure that you have a qualified educator holding an approved Certificate III level or higher qualifications, ready to actually be able to provide that education and care as well. So you need to have someone who will be ready to be able to step in once that family day care is established and the doors open.

Move on to the fees payable to the regulatory authority or local council. So regulatory or admin - oh my goodness, regulatory or other admin fees, because I can't speak at the moment - will only be funded for successful applicants if this was included in their applications. So if you know you're going to need to change anything up with the regulator, you need to make sure you're including the cost of that in your budget breakdown when you pop in your application.

The FIT program may cover fees such as obtaining or modifying service or provider approvals, fees payable to local councils to obtain necessary development approvals to establish a new family day care service, or where a current service needs additional approvals as well from the local council.

It's also really, really important to note that being successful in your application does not guarantee any outcome regarding your applications to the regulator or to the local council. So you will still need to go through the full normal process to make sure that you can obtain what you need.

The data collection and evaluation plans is another important piece that we just want to draw your attention to. So successful providers will be required to participate in evaluation activities. Michelle's already mentioned this. This may require consent from families who are accessing the FIT trial. The evaluation activities could include things like case studies or interviews or surveys with the families, with the staff, with directors, with providers, especially if it's one of the partnerships. So it's really broad in relation to who might be included in that evaluation. And again, it all comes down to what your proposal is and what we're funding as to what we will be having a look at to evaluate.

The specific requirements of that evaluation will be included in your funding agreement. So if you are successful, you'll get the outcome and then we will actually work with you to make sure that the funding agreement is really clear on what we'll need from you and from your service throughout the lifetime of the trial.

The other thing I just want to note is we're also really keen for services who are running the trials to be able to tell us the good news stories and to share that more broadly as well. So there might be opportunities for you to share your story both with us and with other services and more broadly, which technically it's not part of the evaluation but we just want to flag that if that's something that you're interested in, we'd be really keen to to work with services to share the good news stories as well throughout the program.

Beautiful, thank you. (Bit of dead silence there.)

I just wanted to end by saying that there is assistance, there is help available in a couple of different spots. So if you're having any trouble using the online application system, so SmartyGrants, that includes registering or using the system, if you're having problems with passwords, whatever that might be, you'll need to contact the Smarty Grants Support Desk. So that Help Desk is available between 9 and 5, Monday to Friday, and we've got the number and the email just on the screen there. Of course it's also very prominent on the SmartyGrants website itself as well. So if you are on the website and you're having trouble, that number and that email address is on there, it's in the guidelines.

Again, this information is everywhere that you might be interacting with the FIT program.

And then the second piece is if you're after more information on the program itself, perhaps you're after some clarifications about the guidelines or something like that, then we encourage you to contact the funding team through the regular channels. So that is the Early Childhood Education Information and Inquiries Team. So our I&E team on 1800 619 113 or by emailing through to the ECE funding mailbox with the email address on the screen there.

That's it from me.

Kate Hancock

Thank you very much and thank you everyone for joining us today. We look forward to receiving applications.

Key features of the program

The following is a summary of the key features of the program. Full details of the program are provided in the guidelines.


The aim of the Flexible Initiatives Trial is to make ECEC services more accessible and flexible for families in NSW, particularly for those who need it the most. The trial also focuses on supporting ECEC educators and gathering evidence for future improvements. Its objectives are to:

  • enhance accessibility for families
  • increase workforce participation
  • improve understanding by services of local needs and their capacity to meet those needs
  • provide support for educators
  • develop an evidence base to inform future program development.

Guiding principles

To ensure that children and families are provided support in a culturally respectful, inclusive, and outcomes-driven environment, the Flexible Initiatives Trial is guided by a set of important principles. This means all proposals must be:

  • child and family focused
  • culturally respectful
  • inclusive
  • responsive to identified needs
  • outcome focused – maintaining quality of education and care, and measuring outcomes.

Program outcomes

This is a program which aims to transform early childhood education and care in NSW to better meet the diverse needs of families. The intention is to foster an ECEC environment that is flexible, culturally respectful, inclusive and outcomes-focused; to enhance access to ECEC services and, as a result, enable families’ engagement in the economy, in education, and in society.


Two streams

There are two distinct streams in the trial. Applicants may seek funding for program activities in one or both streams.

Stream 1 focuses on smaller-scale operational changes within a single provider and service type. It also supports the establishment of new family day care services by existing providers in outer regional, remote, and very remote areas.

Stream 2 involves two established approved services of differing service types working together to implement or extend flexible practices or models. For example, an existing local family day care service provides wrap around hours care for children enrolled in a community preschool.


Applicants must be approved ECEC service providers primarily catering to children aged 0-6, that is:

  • community preschools (centre-based)
  • mobile preschools
  • long day care
  • family day care
  • occasional care
  • before and after school care services.

All applicants must also have a quality rating and compliance history that is rated ‘Meeting’, ‘Exceeding’ or 'Excellent' against the National Standard and be planning to provide activities beyond their service’s regular, core, existing, or ongoing activities.

Applicants looking to establish a new family day care service in rural and remote areas must already operate at least one service in NSW that has been assessed and rated.

Assessment process

The Flexible Initiatives Trial follows a competitive assessment process. Applicants must meet specific requirements and submit a comprehensive application that addresses all the evaluation criteria including:

  • evidence of local need
  • a child-centric approach, with consideration for staff wellbeing
  • accessibility
  • an evaluation plan including measures of success
  • sustainability of activities beyond the funded period
  • alignment with one or more of the program objectives.

Additional weighting

Services in areas with low socio-economic indicators, in remote regions, Multifunctional Aboriginal Children’s Services, Aboriginal Controlled Children’s Services and Aboriginal Child and Family Centres will receive extra consideration under the program, including allowances for higher costs in rural and remote areas.

Next steps


Early Childhood Education Information and Enquiries team
1800 619 113


  • Early childhood education


  • Web page

Business Unit:

  • Early Childhood Outcomes
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