Quality and Participation Grants Program

Program overview

The Quality and Participation Grants Program supports eligible early childhood education services to:

  • increase participation and access for children experiencing vulnerability and disadvantage, by delivering targeted initiatives and support for Aboriginal children and children from low income families (Category 1)
  • improve quality learning environments to positively impact experiences and outcomes for preschool aged children (Category 2)
  • support implementation initiatives to meet the requirements under the Preschool Reform Agreement and Early Years Commitment (Category 3).

This program supports the participation in 600 hours of quality early childhood education in the two years before school. The program is open to not-for-profit community preschools (centre-based and mobile) and not-for-profit long day cares, Multifunctional Aboriginal Children’s Services, Aboriginal Child and Family Centres and for-profit providers operating a single long day care service. For-profit providers operating a single long day care service are eligible for funding to support the implementation initiatives to meet the requirements under the Preschool Reform Agreement and Early Years Commitment.

Applications will be assessed against the eligibility criteria, application requirements and spending rules.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible for the Quality and Participation Grants Program, a service must meet the following criteria.

  • Be one of the following eligible service types operating in NSW:
    • not-for-profit community preschool (centre-based or mobile)
    • not-for-profit long day care (as identified in the National Quality Agenda IT System, or where sufficient evidence is provided upon request) and includes local government managed services
    • Multifunctional Aboriginal Children’s Service
    • Aboriginal Child and Family Centres
    • standalone for-profit long day care (defined as for-profit providers operating a single long day care service as identified by the National Quality Agenda IT System).
  • Be an approved early childhood education and care service under the Education and Care Services National Law and Regulations or the Supplementary Provisions Act
  • Deliver an early childhood education program in accordance with the Early Years Learning Framework .

Services are eligible to apply for Quality and Participation funding once per service approval (for mobile preschools, you can only apply under the Service Approval of your parent service, not individual mobile venues).

Application process

Applications for the Quality and Participation Grants Program have been extended to 12 December 2022.

Early payments will be available to those services who lodged their application by 14 November 2022.

Applications for the Quality and Participation Grants Program should be submitted through the SmartyGrants online application system. A guide is available to help applicants use SmartyGrants.

Services will need to provide evidence in the form of quotes and/or invoices detailing their proposed activities.

The following service types operating in NSW can apply for grants funding of up to $15,000 (ex GST) for Category 1 and Category 2:

  • not-for-profit community preschool (centre-based or mobile)
  • not-for-profit long day care (as identified in the National Quality Agenda IT System, or where sufficient evidence is provided upon request) and includes local government managed services
  • Multifunctional Aboriginal Children’s Service
  • Aboriginal Child and Family Centres.

The following service types operating in NSW can apply for grants funding of up to $2,500 (ex GST) for Category 3 initiatives:

  • not-for-profit community preschool (centre-based or mobile)
  • not-for-profit long day care (as identified in the National Quality Agenda IT System, or where sufficient evidence is provided upon request) and includes local government managed services
  • Multifunctional Aboriginal Children’s Service
  • Aboriginal Child and Family Centres
  • standalone for-profit long day cares

Services may apply for funding for multiple initiatives they are eligible for in a single application. Category 1 and Category 2 initiatives can be funded up to a combined total of $15,000 (ex GST). Category 3 initiatives can be funded up to $2,500 (ex GST).

Assessment criteria

The department will assess applications and determine funding based on service eligibility, spending rules, program priorities and available funding.

Spending rules

Eligible services may apply for funding to help support programs or initiatives that are in addition to regular service activities and which align to the following program outcomes.

Category 1: increase participation and access for children experiencing vulnerability and disadvantage, by delivering targeted initiatives and support for Aboriginal children and children from low income families.

  • transport initiatives such as establishing partnerships with local schools, councils or transport providers to increase access
  • providing staff development opportunities such as training and conferences that promote outreach to Aboriginal children and children from low income families
  • resources that support participation and outreach for Aboriginal children and children from low income families
  • providing access to specialised staff for Aboriginal children and children from low income families
  • engagement of a community member to work with the service or the local community to support Aboriginal children and children from low income families
  • reengagement of Aboriginal and low income families where enrolments may have declined due to unforeseen circumstances such as COVID-19, flood, bushfire or drought.

Category 2: improve quality learning environments to positively impact experiences and outcomes for preschool aged children

  • minor capital works – renovations and repairs to existing buildings or premises
  • infrastructure and learning items – such as mud kitchens, outdoor sports equipment, large furniture items or portable air conditioners
  • internal events and/or excursions – the delivery of a specialised education program by an external provider within the service or outside of the service.

Category 3: support the implementation initiatives to meet the Preschool Reform Agreement and Early Years Commitment (up to $2,500)

  • Information Technology (IT) system upgrades to support attendance tracking such as software, or the purchase of IT hardware
  • accountancy support for new acquittal requirements
  • development of cultural and or community engagement strategies
  • professional development to support implementation of IT systems.

Exclusions

Funding cannot be used for:

  • resources already funded by the department through another Early Childhood Education Directorate program, such as Start Strong Capital Works or Minor Capital Works as part of the Disability and Inclusion Program
  • activities where the service is receiving funding through an existing alternative source
  • items with high risk factors including trampolines
  • resources primarily intended for staff use such as kitchen appliances and parking spaces
  • staff salaries and related staffing costs (i.e. annual leave)
  • upgrades to mobile preschool venues that are not owned by the provider.

Other requirements

Where activities are not fully funded, grant funding can be used in conjunction with other community initiatives delivered by the NSW Government or other agencies supporting Aboriginal children and children from low income families.

However, applicants are strongly encouraged to apply for resources and activities that can be fully funded through the Quality and Participation Grants program.

Activities need to commence during the 2022/23 financial year and approved funding must be spent by 30 June 2024. Applicants may be asked to return any unspent funding after this date.

The department must be notified of exceptional circumstances whereby approved funding cannot be expended by 30 June 2024. Notification should include an explanation for why funding has not been expended and a timeline for spending the outstanding funds. Decisions regarding unspent funds will be made by the department on a case by case basis. Decisions will be confirmed by the department in writing.

Payments

The department will pay grants to successful applicants as a one-off payment through the Early Childhood Contract Management System (ECCMS).

Payments for services who lodge their application by 14 November 2022, will be made from early 2023.

Payments for services who lodge their application after 14 November 2022 and before 12 December 2022, will be made from March 2023.

Grant payments will only be progressed for applicants that are registered in the Early Childhood Contract Management System and have accepted the Terms and Conditions of the Early Childhood Education Grants Program.

The Terms and Conditions and these program guidelines will form part of the funding agreement for services receiving grant payments through this program.

The amount of funding provided will be based on the department's assessment of the amount requested and the information provided in the application.

Reporting requirements

A formal acquittal process must be undertaken within one year of the end of the spending period (e.g. within one year of 30 June 2024). This will consist of a statement of expenditure and a performance report. Successful applicants may also be audited as part of the Department’s annual audit.

Additional transport initiatives to support Aboriginal children’s participation

Additional funding is available to support transport initiatives for eligible Aboriginal community preschools or community preschools with significant historical enrolments of Aboriginal children (on a case by case basis).

Grants can be used for transport initiatives that support the participation of Aboriginal children at high risk of discontinuation in preschools or to further extend the participation of Aboriginal children in a preschool program.

Applications can be submitted for funding up to $100,000 (ex GST). Applications will be assessed against the eligibility criteria, application requirements and spending rules. Applications may be competitively assessed.

Applications will be prioritised with consideration given to a number of categories such as the number of children assisted through the proposal and the lack of alternative funding sources.

Eligibility criteria

Your service must be operating in NSW and meet the following criteria:

  • be a not-for-profit centre-based community preschool
  • be an Aboriginal community preschool
  • have an ARIA+ classification of Inner Regional, Outer Regional, Remote or Very Remote
  • not currently receive funding for the same transport initiative through the Closing the Gap Community and Place Gaps Program offered through Aboriginal Affairs NSW, Indigenous Advancement Strategy or other funding source.

Applications may be accepted on a case by case basis where community preschools (that are not identified as Aboriginal Community Preschools) can demonstrate significant historical enrolments of Aboriginal children.

This will take into consideration a range of factors including evidence of numbers and/or percentages of Aboriginal enrolments over the last 3-5 years and significant engagement with a local Aboriginal community to support preschool participation. Services who believe they may meet these criteria should contact the department regarding their intent to apply.

Services are only eligible to apply for additional transport funding once per service approval. Applications for additional funding support will be available in the Quality and Participation Grants program application should the service meet the eligibility criteria.

Application process

Applications for additional transport funding should be submitted through the SmartyGrants online application system under the Quality and Participation Grants program application form (same application link as above). Only eligible services will be able to access the additional funding support in the application form.

Applications for this program open from 17 October 2022 to 12 December 2022. Early payment will be available to those services who lodge their application by 14 November 2022.

Applications can be submitted for funding up to $100,000 (ex GST).

Applications should include:

  • a project budget, including your ability to provide additional funding if the total amount exceeds the amount provided in the grant
  • quotes detailing the costs for the purchase, repair and/or maintenance of a motor vehicle
  • application requirements for the purchase of a vehicle
  • the motor vehicle must be used primarily to transport children attending the community preschool
  • the motor vehicle must be fit for purpose and capable of transporting children safely to and from the service, including:
    • operating safely in varying weather conditions
    • ensuring the safe transportation of children with a disability and/or additional needs
    • complying with all applicable requirements to comply with the Education and Care Services National Law and Regulations.
  • The motor vehicle must be registered in NSW with appropriate insurances.

Assessment criteria

The department will assess applications and determine funding based on service eligibility, spending rules, program priorities and available funding. Applications may be competitively assessed.

Prioritisation of applications includes services:

  • operating in regional and remote areas or in the most disadvantaged areas (SEIFA band 8 or lower)
  • with significant historical enrolments of Aboriginal children based on evidence of numbers or percentages of Aboriginal enrolments over the last 3-5 years and significant engagement with a local Aboriginal community to support preschool participation
  • demonstrating a strong focus on participation of Aboriginal children in early childhood education
  • demonstrating community need including the number of Aboriginal children assisted
  • the lack of alternative funding sources
  • value for money
  • other prioritisation categories that reflect emerging needs and is considered to support the purpose and intended outcome of the program.

Spending rules

Eligible services may apply for funding to help support transport initiatives including:

  • purchase of a transport vehicle. Services are not able to apply for this category if they have previously received funding for a vehicle through this program
  • other transport initiatives (such as vehicle maintenance, repair cost, hiring a driver or vehicle)
  • grant funding through this stream must be used for transport initiatives only.

Activities need to commence during the 2022/2023 financial year and approved funding must be spent by 30 June 2024. Applicants may be asked to return any unspent funding at this date.

The department must be notified of exceptional circumstances whereby approved funding cannot be expended by 30 June 2024. Notification should include an explanation for why funding has not been expended and a timeline for spending the outstanding funds. Decisions regarding unspent funds will be made by the department on a case by case basis. Decisions will be confirmed by the department in writing.

The department will require security to finalise funding agreements for the purchase of a vehicle under the Quality and Participation Grants Program. The security could include a 'security interest' under the Personal Property Securities Act 2009.

Payments

Program grants will be paid to successful applicants as notified by the department.

Grants payments will only be progressed for applicants that are registered in ECCMS and have accepted the Terms and Conditions of the Early Childhood Education Grants Program.

For the purchase of a vehicle, applicants will also be required to sign a Funding Agreement and provide the Vehicle Inspection Number to the department prior to payment.

The amount of funding provided will be based on the department's assessment of amount requested and the information provided in the application.

Reporting requirements

A formal acquittal process must be undertaken within one year of the end of the spending period (e.g. within one year of 30 June 2024. This will consist of a statement of expenditure as well as a performance report. Successful applicants may also be audited as part of the Department’s annual audit.

Additional information

SmartyGrants help guide for applicants and applicant frequently asked questions.

Contacts

For more information about the Quality and Participation Grants Program, please contact:

1800 619 113
ecec.funding@det.nsw.edu.au

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