Start Strong Pathways Program Information for Services Transitioning from Legacy Programs
As part of the legacy transition arrangements, services receiving funding under the Early Childhood Education Occasional Care or Early Childhood Project Grants Programs (also known as Legacy Programs) will be offered the opportunity to demonstrate alignment with the Start Strong Pathways program.
The Start Strong Pathways Program helps support the early learning needs of young children by offering families a pathway into early childhood education and helps expand a child's social horizons beyond family and home-based interactions.
The information contained in this document reflects the existing Guidelines for Start Strong Pathways Program and has been developed to support the progress of transition arrangements for services receiving funding through legacy programs.
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.
Start Strong Pathways has the following 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
Services seeking to transition to Start Strong Pathways must meet all of the following criteria:
- be a not-for-profit community based service
- be receiving funding under the Early Childhood Education Occasional Care or Early Childhood Project grants program (also known as Legacy programs) or as otherwise agreed with the Department
- 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 be willing to, establish links with early childhood education providers
- comply with the Terms and Conditions of the Early Childhood Education Grants Program.
4. 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.
5. Alignment Process
Services will demonstrate alignment with the Start Strong Pathways program by completing a Start Strong Pathways Legacy Transition form in the SmartyGrants system. Start Strong Pathways Legacy Transition forms will be accepted in SmartyGrants from 27 February 2020 to 29 April 2020. The form will require:
- information about the activities that will be conducted as part of this program
- information on how funding will be used under the spending rules
Services wishing to combine two or more of their Occasional Care or Early Childhood Project Grants funding streams should contact the Department in the first instance. The Department will consider requests to combine funds on a case by case basis and approval will be confirmed by the Department in writing.
6. Determining Alignment
Alignment with the Start Strong Pathways program will be determined by the information provided by individual services against the requirements of Start Strong Pathways, including Eligibility, Objectives and Spending Rules.
Information will not be considered on a competitive basis with other services seeking to transition the Start Strong Pathways from legacy funding.
Services demonstrating alignment with the Start Strong Pathways Program will be provided with a Start Strong Pathways funding agreement through to 30 June 2021 at or up to the current annual amount per service received through the Early Childhood Projects and/or Occasional Care Grants Program.
Start Strong Pathways Legacy Transition forms will be accepted in SmartyGrants 27 February 2020 to 29 April 2020. Forms will be assessed in May 2020 with successful services 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.
9. Performance reporting
Services funded under the Start Strong Pathways Program 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.
10. Contact details
For information about the Start Strong Pathways Program, please contact the Early Childhood Education Directorate.
Phone: 1300 755 426