Start Strong Pathways


The Start Strong Pathways program (Pathways program) first commenced in 2018 and is delivered by the department. This new 2024 Pathways program has a specific focus on encouraging participation of children aged 0-3 years old to engage with and transition into early childhood education and care settings.

The program enables a variety of place-based initiatives to provide early educational supports for children prior to preschool enrolment and helps promote the importance of ECEC to families.

Key information

The 2024 Pathways program provides financial assistance through a closed, non-competitive grant to not-for-profit services to support the early learning needs of young children (aged 0-3 years old), offering families a pathway into more formal ECEC. These services help expand children’s social horizons beyond family and home-based interactions.

Key dates

Activity Date
Opening date 15 May 2024
Closing date 31 July 2024
Application outcome date

From July 2024 (for applications submitted between 15 May 2024 and 15 June 2024)

From August 2024 (for applications submitted between 16 June 2024 and 31 July 2024)

Project delivery timeframe (for successful applications) 1 July 2024 – 31 December 2025
Evaluation timeframe (for successful applications) ​​1 July 2026 – 30 June 2027​


To be eligible for the 2024 Pathways program, service providers must meet all of the following criteria:

  • be a not-for-profit service provider

  • be currently delivering activities and services under a previous Start Strong Pathways program or programs, which activities align with the new 2024 Pathways program’s objectives

  • be a service provider identified and registered in the Early Childhood Contract Management System (ECCMS), and agree to continue being identified for the duration of the program

  • engage a certificate III or diploma qualified early childhood educator, early childhood education teacher, or other person with a relevant tertiary qualification to run or design the service activities

  • have an established partnership or connection (including a referral network) that may support children to transition to preschool settings with an approved early childhood education and care service under the National Law and National Regulations

  • comply with the department’s Early Childhood Outcomes Programs Funding Agreement Terms and Conditions for 1 January 2024 to 31 December 2024 (2024 Terms and Conditions). Providers are also expected to accept and comply with the department’s new ECCMS terms and conditions for the period 1 January 2025 – 31 December 2025, as provided by the department

  • agree to comply with the funding agreement (see section 5.2 of program guidelines for details).

More information

To learn more, read the 2024 Start Strong Pathways program guidelines.


Please contact us at if you have any questions.


  • School operations

Business Unit:

  • Early Childhood Outcomes
Return to top of page Back to top