Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions on the Flexible Initiatives Trial.

General questions

Important things to consider in determining whether this is right for your service include:

  • Is there a need for flexibility in your service’s local community?
  • Do you meet the eligibility requirements?
  • Can you meet the assessment criteria?
  • Can you develop a partnership with another service type to provide wrap-around flexible care? (stream 2)

Flexibility, for the purpose of this program, means any change to a service’s ordinary early childhood education and care (ECEC) business delivery and operations to promote greater accessibility for families. Flexibility may include, but is not limited to:

  • an extension of service operating hours

  • flexible attendance patterns

  • casual care day booking systems

  • wrap around care

  • any other initiative that increases availability of ECEC.

There may be other examples.

Applicants are encouraged to submit proposals to test and trial a variety of flexible activities that suit the needs of children and families in their local communities.

Note, though, that proposed flexible activities must be discrete and defined activities beyond the service’s normal, core, existing or ongoing activities.

Yes. You can apply for funding to extend or expand flexible activities that your service already offers, so long as the activity is a discrete and defined activity beyond your service’s normal, core, existing or ongoing activities.

For example, if a service currently provides extra operating hours on Monday evenings and wants to make their hours longer on Thursday and Friday evenings, an application can be lodged for this extension. However, it is important to note that while the extended hours on Thursday and Friday could qualify for funding under the ECEC Flexible Initiatives Trial, the additional hours already offered on Mondays would not be eligible for funding. Existing or ongoing flexible activities already in place at a service are not eligible for funding.

No. The costs associated with hiring and paying wages for allied health professionals does not fit within the scope of the Flexible Initiatives Trial. Refer to the objectives of the Trial.


Yes. Services operating in NSW are eligible to apply, even if their approved provider is in another Australian state.

Services operating outside of NSW are not eligible to apply for the ECEC Flexible Initiatives Trial.

Yes. If you are eligible to apply for the ECEC Flexible Initiatives Trial, you can apply for both streams. Separate applications will need to be lodged.

Yes. However, providers intending to submit more than 5 applications must contact the department on prior to submitting their application/s.

You must submit a separate application for each proposal.

No. Once you submit your application you will not be able to send further documentation (unless this is specifically requested). You should submit a complete application to ensure your application can be properly assessed.

The ECEC Flexible Initiatives Trial has two rounds, giving providers time to prepare and submit complete applications.

If you have submitted your application in error prior to the closing date, you may retrieve and edit your application from SmartyGrants by contacting the Early Childhood Education Information and Enquiries team on 1800 619 113 or via email

Please email or call the Early Childhood Education Information and Enquiries team on 1800 619 113 if you have questions about:

  • how to apply for the ECEC Flexible Initiatives Trial

  • any of the eligibility criteria and/or what can and can’t be funded

  • funding intersections and whether your service is eligible.

Applicants intending to submit more than 5 applications must contact the department on prior to submitting their application/s.

For service ratings, regulatory enquiries and regulatory compliance, please contact:

  • the ECEC Information and Enquiries team on 1800 619 113.

For assistance with the online application system, please contact:

Following the closing date, applications will be reviewed for eligibility and compliance with the program guidelines. Eligible and compliant applications will then progress to assessment by an assessment panel.

The assessment panel will recommend suitable applications for funding based on their comparative merit.

Yes. The Flexible Initiatives Trial provides 12 months of funding to test and trial new initiatives. You must describe how you may continue to offer – or exit – the program at the conclusion of the funding period. This is one of the weighted application criteria.

You must also indicate your proposed delivery costs for the funding period, to ensure costs are adequately accounted for.

Services may choose to offer the flexible initiative at reduced or low fees but it is important to gain insights throughout the trial regarding ongoing delivery costs and plan accordingly.

Yes, unsuccessful applicants from round 1 may be encouraged to apply for round 2. Before reapplying, you should review the program guidelines to ensure you meet the eligibility and assessment criteria requirements, and any feedback on your previous application, to ensure you are putting forward an application that aligns with the purpose of the program.

Service amendments and approvals

Associated regulatory or administrative fees will only be funded for successful applicants when they have been included in the application. You must include the relevant supporting evidence in your application (and any fees must be expressly counted for in your executed funding agreement).

Note that any necessary development application fees payable to a local council are only available for the establishment of new family day care services in outer regional, remote and very remote areas.

Applicants who choose to apply to the regulatory authority or local council before being notified of the outcome of their application will not be reimbursed if their application is unsuccessful.

Refer to the guidelines for more information regarding regulatory and local council approvals.

No. Being successful in your application to the ECEC Flexible Initiatives Trial does not guarantee any outcome regarding your applications to the regulatory authority or local council.

Successful applicants of the ECEC Flexible Initiative Trial will be required to sign a funding agreement. Applicants who then seek appropriate regulatory authority approvals or local council approvals and who have submitted relevant fees as part of their budget, will receive funding to cover those costs as part of their first milestone.

If services are unable to obtain necessary approvals by the time specified in their funding agreement, the funding agreement may be terminated.

For applications to establish a new family day care service only, necessary development application fees payable to a local council may also attract funding, subject to conditions outlined above and in individual funding agreements.

Key requirements

There are several ways you can do this. Qualitative or quantitative evidence to support your application could include any of the following:

  • Expressions of interest for flexibility from families in the form of letters or emails.

  • Survey results that the service has compiled that indicate alternative, extended hours or different service offerings would benefit the local community.

  • For services operating within the vicinity of businesses or organisations that have a high number of shift-workers – requests received from families employed by these businesses or organisations to accommodate their needs.

  • A note on the limited number of services in the local area with an assessment of their current capacity, including information about access challenges faced by the community.

  • An overview of demand for services, including waiting lists for the service, that reflect the community’s need for adaptable offerings.

  • Evidence of significant growth in the number of children and families in the area due to population growth, new industries or residential development.

  • Evidence of an identified shortage of flexible service places in the area.

  • Information about any other significant factors that indicate a new demand or shortage in the local area, such as the closure of another ECEC service.

To demonstrate how your proposed flexible activity is accessible to all children and families in your local community, describe how you have addressed the following:

  • Inclusivity
    Partner with local organisations, cultural centres, and employers to reach a diverse community. Ensure physical resources and buildings are accessible to all children and families as appropriate.

  • Cultural sensitivity
    Incorporate multilingual resources and inclusive practices reflective of local communities to respect diverse backgrounds.

  • Transportation
    Ensure transportation options cater to families with limited access to vehicles or public transport (stream 2 only).

  • Flexible hours
    Design operating hours to accommodate various work schedules.

  • Clear communication
    Use various channels to communicate program availability.

  • Feedback
    Involve families in planning and seek feedback for continuous improvement.

  • Collaborative partnerships
    Form alliances with local organisations to expand reach.

  • Continuous improvement
    Show your commitment to regular assessment and enhancement of accessibility based on feedback and data.

Fair fee expectations can be identified in several ways. For example, through the number of services and/or places available to children and families in the service’s local area, and their respective current fees. Costs associated with staffing, rent and administrative costs should reflect value for money.

Applicants who are applying to establish a new family day care will be required to submit appropriate quotes to demonstrate their budget is within market expectations.

All providers are required to disclose any actual, potential, or perceived conflicts of interest in their application. Moreover, the obligation to disclose any conflict of interest continues during the program's implementation should such a conflict arise. A conflict could pertain to various aspects, including partnerships, third-party service provisions, contractors, or staff employed as a direct result of the funded program.

It is important to note that if there is a perceived or actual conflict of interest between the applicant and the department, there is a possibility of funding being declined. For instance, if an organisation applying for funding has a close relationship with a department employee, this might raise concerns about potential bias or favouritism.

For a more comprehensive understanding of our approach to managing conflicts of interest, please visit the department’s Conflict of Interest webpage.


The total budget of the project must factor in all expenses associated with the flexible activity proposal.

  • For a list of what can and cannot be funded, please refer to the guidelines.

Total project expenses should be equal to the total project budget, including the grant amount, provider contribution and any other sources of funding.

All amounts listed on your application must exclude GST, this includes the grant amount being requested.

If amounts include GST, this can artificially lower the value for money calculation of your project and may impact the assessment outcome.

This refers to any funding by parties other than the ECEC Flexible Initiatives Trial and the provider applying for the grant (ex GST). Alternative sources of funding can include other grants from the State, Federal or Local government, any donations from private or public organisations and in-kind services.

Applicants must confirm and provide evidence of the amount and availability of these funds. These amounts will not be funded.

In-kind services (for example, the offer of free minor capital works services) should be listed on your budget but should be quantified as 0 dollars. All other types of contribution must have the dollar amount specified.

Applicants must confirm and provide evidence of the amount and availability of these funds. These amounts will not be funded.

Initiatives that have, at the time of assessment of the application, been completed, will not be funded.

Once your application is successful

Funding is paid in instalments in accordance with project milestones and funding agreement. The program type and total project cost will determine the number of project milestones and payments.

For example, if you have 2 project milestones then you could be paid:

  • 70% for milestone 1

  • 30% for milestone 2.

You are required to submit progress reports and evidence when you complete a project milestone, as per your funding agreement. A progress report template will be sent to be completed at the appropriate time. The progress report will be assessed and, if found satisfactory, will enable payment of that milestone.

You will be required to submit progress reports and evidence when you complete a project milestone, as per your funding agreement. The department will send you a report template to complete at the appropriate time.

Evidence may include any relevant approvals, reports, before-and-after photos and itemised invoices.

Reports may also request relevant demographic data of families and children using the flexible activity, as well as feedback from participants and service providers.

If you experience unexpected delays, please contact the team as soon as possible. Please note that, as per the Terms and Conditions, grant recipients will be responsible for any shortfalls in funding or overruns that may arise as a result of delays.

Any requests for extension to the project timeframes will be considered in accordance with the provisions in the funding agreement. Generally, such requests will require the grant recipient to:

  • contact the department immediately when they identify that they may not meet the timeframes for project delivery; and

  • provide detailed written evidence that explains the reason for the delay and demonstrates that the project will be completed within the additional time requested.

Note that timeframe extensions may not be approved, and that excessive delays may ultimately result in the department recommending withdrawal of the funding commitment.

Stream 2

Yes. Applicants applying for stream 2 will need to establish a partnership before applying for the ECEC Flexible Initiatives Trial and determine who should be the primary applicant.

The primary applicant is the service who will be signing in or out, and assuming responsibility for the education and care of the children outside of the children’s core ECEC location and hours (that is, providing care for children for wraparound or extended period/s). For example, a family day care service partnering with a community preschool may collect children from the community preschool at the close of business and continue to care for the children at the family day care.

In this example, the family day care is the primary applicant and they must complete the application form.

For stream 2 applications, only the primary applicant should apply.

The primary applicant must complete the application form and will therefore sign the funding agreement. The primary applicant will receive funds according to the funding agreement. They will also be responsible for all reporting.

No, funding is only available to cover transportation costs, such as vehicle hire and fuel. For example, a service may allocate funding from the program to hire a vehicle for transportation of the children from one service to another.

Family day care

Yes, only existing approved providers are eligible to establish a new family day care under stream 1.

Funding for new family day care services (under stream 1) is only available to services being established in outer regional, remote and very remote areas, under an existing approved provider.

To identify whether the location for your prospective new service is classified as regional, remote or very remote, please refer to the ARIA+ classification guide.

Funding for minor capital works is limited to essential infrastructure and facility improvements aimed at:

  • ensuring compliance with regulatory standards when establishing a new service

  • the enhancement of quality service provision

  • ensuring a safe and conducive learning environment for children.

This may include:

  • essential repairs and maintenance to existing infrastructure (which must be carried out by a qualified, licenced repairer)

  • safety enhancements to the premises and facilities

  • upgrading essential equipment and resources required for the delivery of high-quality ECEC services.

For more information about what can and cannot be funded, please refer to the guidelines.

That is your decision to make. We recommend you first speak with your landlord and ensure you can acquire appropriate insurance and meet the regulatory requirements for the establishment of a new family day care in the rental property.


  • Early childhood education

Business Unit:

  • Early Childhood Outcomes
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