Quality Learning Environments program - 2019 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.

Please note these guidelines apply to the 2019 Quality Learning Environments program. Read the 2020 program guidelines.

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 $10,000 (ex GST). Grants can be used to purchase resources and activities which improve physical or educational learning environments.

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

Applications were open from 14 May to 24 June 2019.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible for funding through the 2019 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* 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
  • not be receiving Vacation Care, Occasional Care, Long Day Care, or Early Childhood Projects Grants Program funding (known as ‘legacy funding’)
  • 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.

*Or where sufficient evidence is provided upon request.

Application process

Application for the 2019 QLE program should be submitted through the SmartyGrants online application system.

Applications for this program open from 14 May 2019 to 24 June 2019.

Applications should include:

  • a request for up to three resources or activities to a total of $10,000 (ex GST)
  • a description of the requested resource or activity
  • one quote per resource or activity
  • 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 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 $10,000 (ex GST) per service.

Eligible services can apply for funding under the following categories:

  • minor capital works
  • infrastructure items
  • specialised educational programs and activities (incursions and excursions).

Minor capital works relates to renovations and repairs to existing buildings or premises. Infrastructure items are large items that form part of the physical environment of the service. Examples of infrastructure items are mud kitchens, outdoor sports equipment such as climbing gyms, large furniture items or portable air conditioners (these are examples only). Specialised educational programs or activities should be incursions or excursions only.

Funding cannot be used for:

  • purchasing small resources such as books, toys or puzzles
  • professional development activities
  • 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 2020. Applicants may be asked to return any unspent funding at this date. The department must be notified if exceptional circumstances mean that approved funding cannot be expended by 30 June 2020. 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.

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.


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

Program grants are expected to be made from September 2019.

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 sum of quotes for approved resources and activities is less than the total amount of funding requested in the application, the funding awarded will be the sum of the quotes.

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 2020). The acquittal may include completing a statement of expenditure and applicants may be audited to confirm the accuracy of data provided in this statement.


The 2019 QLE program application period is 14 May to 24 June. Payments for approved applications will be made from September 2019. In the event of significant variation to this timetable, services and/or applicants will be notified by the department.

Additional information

SmartyGrants Help Guide for Applicants and Applicant Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)


For more information about the Quality Learning Environments program, please contact:

Early Childhood Education Directorate

1800 619 113


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