Legacy Program closed round: Start Strong Pathways program guidelines

Services receiving Early Childhood Education Occasional Care or Early Childhood Project grants program (also known as Legacy Programs) will be offered the opportunity to demonstrate alignment to help support the early learning needs of young children by offering families a pathway into early childhood education. These services also help expand a child's social horizons beyond family and home-based interactions.

This page describes the objectives, approach and expectations that underpin Start Strong Pathways

1. Purpose

The Start Strong Pathways program helps to provide educational supports for young children prior to preschool enrolment, strengthen the engagement of children within these services, and help promote the importance of early childhood education to parents.

2. Objectives

Start Strong Pathways has three core objectives:

  • support educational engagement of children too young to receive a preschool education
  • support pathways to preschool
  • promote the importance of early childhood education to parents and communities

3. Eligibility criteria

To be eligible to apply for Start Strong pathways, services must meet all of the following criteria:

  • be a not-for-profit community based service
  • receiving Early Childhood Education Occasional Care or Early Childhood Project grants program (also known as Legacy programs)
  • 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, or are willing to, establish links with early childhood education providers
  • comply with the Terms and Conditions of the Early Childhood Education Grants Program.

4. Application process

Start Strong Pathways funding will be provided through an application process through the SmartyGrants online application system. Applications will be open in SmartyGrants from 30 January 2020 - 30 April 2020. The application will require:

  • information on the funding and planned expenditure of the service's activities
  • information on the service's activities applying for funding, including links to early childhood education services, numbers and characteristics of attendees
  • information on how the set funding amount will be used against the spending rules(please note: services cannot apply for more than they currently receive under each of their Legacy funding*)

* Services requesting to merge two or more legacy programs together per application will need to contact the Department. The decision to grant this request to merge funds together will be made by the Department on a case by case basis. Approvals will be confirmed by the Department in writing.

5. Assessment Criteria

The assessment criteria under Start Strong Pathways is at the discretion of the Department and is based on information received during the application process.

Criteria taken into consideration includes:

  • whether the service currently receives funding under the Early Childhood Education Occasional Care or Early Childhood Projects grants programs (also known as Legacy programs)
  • outcomes for children attending the service
  • the links between the service and early childhood education providers

6. Spending rules

Services receiving Start Strong Pathways funding are required to use at least 70% of this funding on any combination of the following:

  • purchasing educational resources
  • employment of a certificate III or diploma qualified early childhood educator, early childhood education teacher, or other suitably qualified person
  • venue costs (including mobile venue costs).

The remaining funds may be used for these purposes or for other administrative costs of the funded service activities.

Service providers are required to certify that funds have been spent in accordance with the Terms and Conditions of the Early Childhood Education Grants Program.

6.1 Funding Agreement

Services will be provided with a Start Strong Pathways funding agreement upon demonstrating alignment with the Start Strong Pathways program.

Where services demonstrate alignment with the Start Strong Pathways Program, services will receive a Start Strong Pathways funding agreement through to 30 June 2021 at the current annual amount per service received through the Early Childhood Projects and/or Occasional Care Program.

7. Timing

Applications for Start Strong Pathways will open 30 January 2020 - 30 April 2020. Applications will be assessed in May 2020 with successful applicants notified from June 2020. The first payment under Start Strong Pathways will be made from July 2020.

Funding under Start Strong Pathways is paid quarterly on a financial year basis and is contingent on compliance with annual accountability requirements.

8. Performance reporting

Services funded under Start Strong Pathways are required to complete annual Performance and Financial accountability statements in the Early Childhood Contract Management System (ECCMS). These accountability reports will be used to ensure services are receiving the appropriate level of funding, and are compliant with program requirements. Services may be audited to confirm the accuracy of data provided in Performance and Financial accountability statements.

9. Contact details

For information about Start Strong Pathways, please contact the Early Childhood Education Directorate by:

Phone: 1300 755 426

Email: ecec.funding@det.nsw.edu.au

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