Mobile pre-school contract guidelines
Guidelines for ‘opt in' fixed term, four year contracts for mobile preschools (January 2016)
This page describes the objectives, approach and expectations that underpin the ‘opt-in' fixed term four year contracts for mobile preschools. The Review of NSW Government Funding for Early Childhood Education (The Brennan Review) recommended mobile preschools be funded on fixed term contracts to recognise the additional costs and unique challenges associated with achieving universal access in remote parts of the State.
The NSW Government's priority is to support all children to access a quality early childhood education in the year before school. Government funding is targeted to four and five year old children in the year before school and children aged three and above from low income and Aboriginal backgrounds and children with a disability.
Contracts have been introduced for mobile preschools to support the provision of sustainable and improved service delivery and universal access in rural and remote areas. The contracts are designed to recognise the higher costs of mobile service delivery, including additional staffing costs and travel between venues.
Mobile preschools that meet the eligibility criteria are able to ‘opt in' to a fixed term four year contract. The contract will include a new loading, up to a maximum of $35,000, in recognition of the additional costs of providing mobile preschool services. This will be in addition to the Preschool Funding Model funding. The contract will also include Preschools for Sustainable Communities funding, if applicable.
The Department of Education began offering mobile contracts to individual mobile service providers from January 2016. Contracts were initially offered for the period 1 January 2016 to 31 December 2019. Mobile contracts have now been extended to 31 December 2020.
Each eligible mobile preschool will be offered a mobile contract that includes the Preschool Funding Model base rate funding and a mobile loading (up to a maximum of $35,000). As with the Preschool Funding Model base rate funding, the mobile loading will be subject to both operational scaling (according to the amount a service operates below the standard six hour preschool day and/or 40 weeks a year) and funding cap scaling (when the number of total enrolments exceeds the funding cap). For example, if 6% operational scaling applies to the Preschool Funding Model base rate funding, 6% scaling will also be applied to the mobile loading. The contract will also include Preschools for Sustainable Communities funding, if applicable.
Once the contract is established, the amount of funding is fixed for the duration of the four year contract. This will provide mobile services with certainty of funding even if their enrolment or operational patterns go up or down during the period of the contract.
Mobile preschool contract funding is to be used for the purposes detailed below:
- Operating expenses of the service, for example:
- Salary and wages
- Educational resources
- Other operating costs
The funds need to be expended in line with the individual services reporting period (calendar or financial year).
A mobile preschool must meet the following criteria to be considered for a mobile contract:
- Operate from multiple venues that are not purpose built centre based preschools, or operate as a ‘pack away' service at one venue.
- Provide a preschool program designed by an early childhood teacher.
- Have a minimum of five Preschool Funding Model funded children enrolled at each venue (four and five year old children in their year before school, and three year old children from Aboriginal or low income families).
- Operate in areas where center based preschools are not readily available (for example, rural/remote areas where no other preschool provision exists).
- Hold the required service and provider approvals.
- Have completed the Operational Support Program.
A mobile preschool has an ongoing responsibility to satisfy Criterion 2 and Criterion 3. These are referred to as the ‘best efforts' criteria in the letter of offer and Attachment. If the mobile preschool is not fully satisfying the ‘best efforts' criteria after an August preschool census (including the 2015 census), the mobile preschool will be required to demonstrate that it is conducting best efforts in the following 12 month period to meet the criteria.
A mobile preschool must meet the following mobile contract requirements:
- the development, implementation and reporting against a yearly business plan including how services will maintain or increase enrolments to avoid volatility and ensure family needs are met
- deliver specific outputs for example, inclusion of Preschool Funding Model funded children (four and five year old children in their year before school, and three year old children from Aboriginal or low income families)
- participation in the preschool census
A mobile preschool may ‘opt out' of a contract after it has been entered into. The mobile can only ‘opt out' once and cannot re-elect to enter into a contract until after the term of the contract.
Preschools for Sustainable Communities funding is provided to eligible rural and remote services. The mobile contract will include Preschools for Sustainable Communities funding up to $70,000 if applicable, and will be fixed for the duration of the contract. More information is provided in the Preschools for Sustainable Communities guidelines.
Mobile preschool services are also able to access a range of other initiatives that are available to community based preschools. This includes:
- increased base funding rates
- Start Strong equity funding for children with a disability or additional needs
- High Learning Support Needs funding
- funding for 3 year old non-equity enrolments
- Community grants
- Capital works grants program.
If eligible for any of these programs, mobile preschools will receive funding under these programs in addition to the mobile contract funding. The department will provide more information about these initiatives progressively.
Mobile preschool services have already accepted the Early Childhood Education Grants Program General Terms and Conditions 2015/2016 and the Early Childhood Education Grants Program Overview as required under the Preschool Funding Model. The mobile contract consists of the following:
- the letter of offer and Attachment (Mobile Preschool Funding Terms and Conditions) setting out additional terms and conditions
- the Early Childhood Education Grants Program Funding Specification (fixed term contract) and if applicable, the Early Childhood Education Grants Program Funding Specification (Preschools for Sustainable Communities)
- the Guidelines for ‘opt in' fixed term, four year contracts for mobile preschools.