Start Strong for Long Day Care program guidelines - Appendix 1: 3 year old trial

1. Purpose

The Start Strong 2023 3 year old trial (3 YO Trial) is linked to the broader Start Strong for Long Day Care 2023 program. The 3 YO Trial will improve the provision of quality early childhood education to 3 year old children attending long day care (LDC) services.

The 3 YO Trial will support eligible services to:

  • invest in their service to increase the quality of the preschool program and learning environments for 3 year old children
  • reach out to their local community to offer and promote their services and increase community confidence in the quality of preschool in Long Day Care
  • reduce non-fee related barries in accessing services, improving the enrolment of 3 year old children in preschool programs, especially those from priority cohorts.

2. Eligibility

2.1 Service eligibility criteria for 3 YO Trial

In addition to meeting the eligibility requirements of Start Strong for Long Day Care 2023 Section 2.1 Service Eligibility criteria, Approved Providers must also deliver a quality early childhood education program to 3 year old children, that is:

  • developed by a qualified early childhood teacher in accordance with the requirements under the National Quality Framework, and
  • using the Early Years Learning Framework.

2.2 Child eligibility criteria for 3 YO Trial

To be eligible for funding under the 3 YO Trial, a child must be:

  • 3 years old and not yet 4 years old on, or before 31 July in 2023;
  • attending an early childhood education program; and
  • listed on CCSS.

3. Funding

3.1 Calculation of trial funding and payment

To support the principle of universal access, the 3 YO Trial will provide a Trial Payment for all 3 year old children on a per child basis.


An additional 50% loading is provided per enrolment:

  • for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children; or
  • if the service is in a geographic area (Statistical Area Level 2) with a SEIFA Decile of 1 and 2 (ranking within NSW) on the Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage 2016.

SEIFA information of the service is determined by the Australian Government using the SEIFA (Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas) Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage 2016 provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

SEIFA will be updated for 2021 data in 2023 and this new information will be used in future years.

Approved Providers will only receive one amount of loading per enrolment.

Table 1: Funding calculation - amount per enrolment

Amount per enrolment
Base rate for 3 year old children enrolled $468
Base rate + 50% loading for all eligible enrolments $703

The initial Trial Payment for eligible services is calculated based on NSW enrolment data from the representative week of 23 May to 29 May 2022 (May 2022 Data).

Any adjustments to funding will be applied in late 2023 to reflect variations in enrolment numbers, using a representative week in early 2023. The dates that make up the representative week in early 2023 are yet to be determined and the department will advise the Approved Provider when it is known.

All representative weeks listed are final. The NSW enrolment data used to calculate funding cannot be disputed or changed.

3.2 Payment of funding

Start Strong for Long Day Care section 3.3 Payment of funding applies.

The Trial Payment will be paid at the same time as other payments under Start Strong Long Day Care 2023, that is in quarterly instalments according to the schedule below:

  1. from January – for period January to March 2023
  2. April – for period April to June 2023
  3. July – for period July to September 2023
  4. October – for period October to December 2023.

Payments of funding will be communicated to the Approved Provider of the eligible service/s in ECCMs and by email.

4. Trial spending rules

The Approved Provider must spend the Trial Payment funds allocated to each service to:

  • purchase functional or educational resources (excluding capital works projects) required to provide a quality preschool program to 3 year old children;
  • design or deliver a quality early childhood education program for 3 year old children, based on the Early Years Learning Framework, including associated staffing costs;
  • develop staff, to increase their capacity to design or deliver 3 year old preschool programs, including through professional development, study leave, course fees and backfilling of staff undertaking career development;
  • salary and wages for additional early childhood teachers to deliver quality early childhood education program to 3 year old children;
  • reach out to the local community to inform families of the benefits of 3 year old children accessing preschool programs through Long Day Care services;
  • reduce non-fee related barriers that families of enrolled 3 year old children face when accessing quality preschool program provided by Long Day Care services;
  • any combination of the above.

The funds need to be expended during the 2023 calendar year, unless otherwise agreed to by the department.

5. Trial evaluation and data collection

An evaluation of the 3 YO Trial will be undertaken to:

  • evaluate the effectiveness of the investment in meeting trial objectives
  • inform the design and development work required to reform the early childhood education and care sector in NSW
  • meet reporting requirements
  • help inform future resource allocation decisions regarding investment in preschool for 3 year olds in LDC settings.

The evaluation will be designed to limit the administration burden for Approved Providers. Approved Providers will be required to participate in the evaluation, where needed, and to comply with department reporting and data collection requirements.

The department will ensure that any work with Approved Providers to enhance preschool programs aligns with quality expectations outlined under the National Quality Framework (NQF).

6. Administrative requirements

Start Strong for Long Day Care 2023 section 4.6 Administration requirements applies.

7. Financial accountability

Start Strong for Long Day Care 2023 section 4.8 Financial accountability applies.

In addition, where the department undertakes a undertakes a funding compliance review approved providers will be required to provide proof of expenditure of Trial payments in line Appendix 1, Section 4 Trial spending rules.

8. Surplus funds

Start Strong for Long Day Care 2023 section 4.9 Management of surplus funds applies.

9. Service changes

Start Strong for Long Day Care 2023 section 5 Service changes applies.


  • Early childhood education

Business Unit:

  • Early Childhood Outcomes
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