Quality Learning Environments program - 2020 guidelines

The Quality Learning Environments (QLE) program aims to support eligible early childhood education services to improve their learning environments to positively impact experiences and outcomes for preschool aged children.

Program overview

The QLE program allows not-for-profit community preschools (centre based and mobile) and not-for-profit long day cares to apply for grants of up to $15,000 (ex GST). Grants can be used to purchase resources and activities which improve physical or educational learning environments. This may include quality improvement initiatives to meet the needs of services impacted by bushfire and recent severe weather events or other emergency situations such as COVID-19.

Improvements to physical learning environments can include the completion of minor capital works and investment in infrastructure items. Improvements to the educational learning environment can include specialised educational programs and activities.

Applications must demonstrate a link between proposed resources and activities and the service’s identified areas for improvement, outlined in their Self-Assessment documentation or Quality Improvement Plan.

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

Applications open from 22 June to 25 September 2020. Early payment will be available to those services who require urgent funding and lodge their applications by 24 July 2020.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible for funding through the 2020 QLE program, a service must meet the following criteria:

  • be a not-for-profit community preschool (centre-based or mobile) or not-for-profit long day care (as identified in the National Quality Agenda IT System or where other sufficient evidence is provided upon request; and including local government managed services) operating in NSW
  • 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 designed by a degree qualified early childhood teacher in accordance with The Early Years Learning Framework under the National Partnership Agreement on Early Childhood Education
  • be registered, or be willing to register, with The Department of Education (the department)’s Early Childhood Contract Management System (ECCMS)
  • accept and comply with the Terms and Conditions of the Early Childhood Education Grants Program.

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

Application process

Application for the 2020 QLE program should be submitted through the SmartyGrants online application system.

Applications for this program open from 22 June 2020 to 25 September 2020.

Applications should include:

  • a request for up to three resources or activities to a total of $15,000 (ex GST)
  • a description of the requested resource or activity
  • one quote per resource or activity, including an ABN and the total cost with GST clearly indicated
  • a description of how the requested resource or activity will improve the physical or educational learning environment by supporting the objectives in the service’s Self-Assessment documentation or Quality Improvement Plan and the National Quality Standards
  • a description of how the funding will be used to improve the learning environment for the primary benefit of preschool aged children.

Assessment criteria

The Department will assess applications against eligibility criteria, application requirements and spending rules.

Spending rules

Applications can be made for grants up to a total of $15,000 (ex GST) per service.

Eligible services can apply for funding under the following categories:

  • minor capital works – renovations and repairs to existing buildings or premises
  • infrastructure items – large items that form part of the physical environment of the service (such as mud kitchens, outdoor sports equipment, large furniture items or portable air conditioners)
  • incursions and/or excursions – the delivery of a specialised education program by an external provider within the service or outside of the service

Funding cannot be used for:

  • purchasing small resources such as books, toys, puzzles, cushions, clothing or gardening tools
  • professional development activities
  • trampolines
  • general refurbishment solely for aesthetic reasons
  • landscape design or garden maintenance solely for aesthetic reasons
  • 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
  • IT equipment such as digital cameras, electronic white boards, video cameras, tablets, and computers
  • office equipment such as photocopiers and fax machines
  • staff resources 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.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply for resources and activities that can be fully funded through the QLE program. Where applications are submitted for resources or activities that exceed the available grant amount, applicants will be required to confirm that they will be able to fund the difference.

Approved funding must be spent by 30 June 2021. The Department must be notified if the approved funding cannot be expended by 30 June 2021. 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. Applicants may be asked to return any unspent funding.

Grant funding must be used to purchase the approved resources and activities only. The Department must be notified if exceptional circumstances mean that this cannot be achieved. The decision to grant a variation to approved resources or activities will be made by the Department on a case by case basis. Approvals will be confirmed by the Department in writing.

Payments

Grants will be paid to successful applicants as one payment via the ECCMS.

Early payment will be available to those services who require urgent funding and lodge their applications by 24 July 2020. Payments for these services will be made from October 2020.

Early payments cannot be made for applications lodged after the 24 July 2020.

All other grant payments are expected to be made from December 2020.

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

Where the quote and the amount requested for an activity or resource do not match, the amount considered will be the lower amount.

Where a quote does not clearly indicate GST, GST will be subtracted from the total amount listed on the quote.

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 2021). The acquittal may include completing a statement of expenditure and applicants may be audited to confirm the accuracy of data provided in this statement.

Timing

The 2020 QLE program application period is 22 June to 25 September 2020.

Early payment will be available to those services who require urgent funding and lodge their applications by 24 July 2020. Payments for these services will be made from October 2020.

All other grant payments are expected to be made from December 2020.

In the event of significant variation to this timetable, services and/or applicants will be notified by the Department.

Additional information

Contacts

For more information about the Quality Learning Environments program, please contact the department's Early Childhood Education Directorate by:

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