Start Strong Long Day Care program guidelines
This page describes the objectives, funding information and provider requirements of the Start Strong Long Day Care program.
At least 600 hours per year or 15 hours per week is the recommended level of participation in a quality early childhood education program in the year before school.
This approach is consistent with the NSW Government’s National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education with the Australian Government. Funding is targeted to four and five year old children in the year(s) before school.
Under the Start Strong Long Day Care (LDC) program, long day care services receive additional funding to support children aged four and five.
The funding is being continued in 2021-22 to help increase access to early childhood education in the year before starting school.
Service Eligibility Criteria
Long day care services that are listed on the Australian Government's Child Care Subsidy System (CCSS) and regulated under the National Quality Framework are eligible to receive Start Strong LDC funding.
To be considered eligible for funding under the Start Strong LDC program, the Approved Provider’s service must:
- Have service approval to operate under the Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010 and either:
- operate as a centre-based service and have checked the long day care Nature of Care field under Service Details on the National Quality Agenda IT System (NQAITS), or
- be a Multifunctional Aboriginal Children’s Service (MACS) and can provide supporting documents of delivering an early childhood education program based on the Early Years Learning Framework.
- Deliver an early childhood education program to children four and five years old, in their year before school, for at least 600 hours, that is:
- Developed by teachers holding an approved early childhood teaching qualification
- Using the Early Years Learning Framework
- Be operating and reporting through CCSS between August 2020 and May 2021; and
- Complete the preschool indicator of the CCSS between August 2020 and May 2021 for the ABS ‘National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection’. Long day care services are required to report against preschool programs. The ‘preschool indicator’ of the CCSS applies to long day care services.
Child Eligibility Criteria
To be eligible for funding under Start Strong Long Day Care, a child must be:
- At least 4 or 5 years old on, or before, 1 July 2020
- Attending an early childhood education program.
- Listed on CCSS
- Not yet in compulsory schooling.
Refer to section 'Calculation of funding' of these guidelines for the funding rates for different children.
Calculation of funding
To support services that may have been impacted by COVID-19 in 2020, a comparison of two representative weeks will determine funding for the 2021-22 Start Strong Long Day Care program. Funding for eligible services is calculated based on the NSW enrolment data from the representative week of 24 February to 1 March 2020 or the representative week of 3 August to 9 August 2020. Services will be eligible for whichever funding amount is higher.
Funding for additional equity enrolments will be calculated based on the increase in enrolment numbers, by comparing the service’s representative week for 2020 (either February or August 2020) to the May 2021 representative week. The 2020 enrolment data cannot be changed in CCSS.
Payments are made to Approved Providers according to the enrolment table below:
|Equity enrolments* for 4 and 5 year olds (amount per child)||Non-Equity enrolments for 4 and 5 year olds (amount per child)|
|Children enrolled for 600 hours or more||$713||$477|
|Children enrolled for less than 600 hours||$477||$318|
|Top-up amount paid for each additional child enrolled for 600 hours or more at May 2021, when compared to 2020 data||$899||N/A|
* Under Start Strong Long Day Care, children will be classified as equity enrolments if they are from a low income or Aboriginal family. Low income status is determined by the SEIFA band of the service as determined by the Australian Government.
Details of funding will be communicated to the Approved Provider. The entire amount for the Approved Provider will be paid as one upfront payment, even if there are multiple services.
Initial payments will be made from June 2021 and payments for each additional equity enrolment will be made from November 2021.
The Approved Provider must spend the funds allocated to each service to:
- purchase functional or educational resources (excluding capital works projects)
- develop an early childhood education program based on the Early Years Learning Framework, including associated staffing costs, or
- develop staff, including upgrading qualifications from a diploma to a four year degree and associated staffing costs
The full quantum of funding should be expended for those purposes, and should primarily aim to benefit children in the year before school.
The funds need to be expended during the 2021-22 financial year, unless otherwise agreed to by the department.
Transferring service approval
If an Approved Provider is transferring a service to another Approved Provider, then the Approved Provider must do the following:
- contact the department at the contact details below when the transfer has been initiated. The department will advise on the steps required to conclude the Approved Provider’s responsibilities under the Start Strong Long Day Care program.
- complete and return to the department all acquittal documentation for the transferring service for the period up to the date of transfer. A manual financial accountability form may be required to be completed for this purpose. This must be completed within 30 days of the transfer of the service, unless otherwise agreed with the department.
- give written notice to the new Approved Provider of the amount of funds (1) expended and (2) unspent within 30 days of the transfer of service. The Approved Provider must also request that the new Approved Provider liaise with the department about this funding program.
- return all unspent funds as agreed by the department
Service ceasing to operate
If a service is to close/cease trading, prior to the date of closure, Approved Providers must:
- contact the department at the contact details below when the closure has been completed. The department will advise on the steps required to conclude the Approved Provider’s responsibilities under the Start Strong Long Day Care program.
- complete and return to the department all acquittal documentation for the closing service for the period up to the date of closure. A manual financial accountability form may be required to be completed for this purpose. This must be completed within 30 days of the closure of the service, unless otherwise agreed with the department.
- return all unspent funds to the department by no later than 30 days of the date of the closure of the service or as agreed by the department
The Department of Education may publicise and report on any funds awarded to the Approved Provider.
The Approved Provider is encouraged to publicly acknowledge this funding received through the National Partnership for Universal Access to Early Childhood Education which is a joint initiative of the NSW Government and the Australian Government. Such acknowledgement may be by way of (for example) an announcement in a regular newsletter or an annual report.
To receive the most up-to-date communication the SP-Admin account holder must review and/or update details in ECCMS. The changes can be completed in the Main Service Provider page – ensure that service details and contacts are up to date on the Main Details tab, Contacts and Address tabs.
Applications cannot be submitted for this program. The department will conduct relevant checks to identify and confirm the eligibility of services. All eligible Approved Providers will receive communication from the department. The Approved Provider needs to:
- Ensure the service information in CCSS is correct.
- Complete and sign the electronic funds transfer (EFT) form if required. Not all providers will need to complete and sign an EFT form if this has already been completed. The department will contact those providers who require an EFT form to be completed.
- Nominate a person in authority at the Approved Provider who will be the SP-Admin Account holder in the Early Childhood Contract Management System (ECCMS). The SP-Admin Account holder is the only person who can accept the Terms and Conditions to generate payments. Only one person per provider can be nominated as SP-Admin.
- The nominated person must have a myGovID. The nominated person’s myGovID needs to be linked to the Provider’s ABN in the Relationship Authorisation Manager (RAM) to enable access to the funding agreement in ECCMS.
- Email the user details linked to the service in RAM to the department at email@example.com, so that the ECCMS registration key can be provided. The ABN for the user must be identical to the ABN that will be linked to the Provider in ECCMS. The department will email the registration key when the user details have been verified in ECCMS.
- Ensure that the ECCMS SP-Admin account holder can log into ECCMS successfully. Further information on how to log in to ECCMS can be found on the ECCMS information page.
- Accept the Terms and Conditions in ECCMS before a specified date as communicated by the department. The Approved Provider will not be paid unless the Terms and Conditions are accepted in ECCMS.
In accordance with the Terms and Conditions, Approved Providers must submit a statement of expenditure for each individual service which has received funding, to provide assurance that public funds have been expended for their intended purpose.
Financial accountability is completed through ECCMS. To access ECCMS, you will need a myGovID and be linked to the provider in RAM. Read step-by-step instructions on how to set this up.
Completing the financial accountability in ECCMS
Accountability can be accessed from the To Do list tab or in the ECCMS left hand menu by clicking Funding Specification:
- Click the Funding Specification with the Statement of Expenditure that corresponds with the funding you have received
- Click the Accountability tab
- Locate the correct Financial Year, then click the Financial hyperlink.
- The Start Strong Long Day Care Statement of Expenditure opens in a new window and displays the annual funding amount received in the Total Income field (as per funding specification).
- In the Expenditure field, type the total amount spent during the year. Amounts are to be reported as GST exclusive.
Surplus: ECCMS will automatically report any unexpended funds as a surplus. If you have any surplus ECE grant funds, these must be returned to the department. The department will contact you to discuss next steps.
- Add any supporting information to how funds were spent in the Additional Information section. This field is optional and limited to 200 characters maximum.
- Once completed click Save. (The Statement of Expenditure’s Status remains as Draft.)
- Click Preview. You can download your Statement of Expenditure in PDF Format. The Statement of Expenditure’s Status remains as Draft.
- When you are sure all numbers are correct, you can then review the statement of acknowledgement and select the Accept check box. Click Submit. A confirmation and information message displays.
- Click OK. The Statement of Expenditure’s Status changes to Submitted.
View the submitted statement
Accountability statements can be accessed in the ECCMS left hand menu by clicking Funding Specification:
- Click the funding specification with the submitted statement that you want to view.
- Click the Accountability tab.
- Locate the correct Financial Year then click the Financial hyperlink. The ‘open or save’ message displays.
- Click Open and it will open a PDF file of the Statement of Expenditure.
- Save the PDF file to your computer, if you want to access it outside of ECCMS.
Review of acquittals
Upon receipt of your acquittal, the following will be undertaken:
- Your acquittal will be reviewed by the department.
- Where there is a surplus of funds, an invoice may be raised by the department requesting repayment of the unexpended funds.
- Where there is a nil balance or deficit reported no further action is required.
Funding Compliance Review
The department may undertake a funding compliance review of the service in relation to these funds, and request that supporting documentation be provided by the service.
Management of surplus funds
Recovery of Funds
Under the Terms and Conditions of funding service providers must be required to return any unexpended funds to the department. Unexpended funds arise when the ECE grant has not been fully spent.
Offsets against Future Payments
Start Strong Long Day Care Service Providers cannot offset any unexpended funds against any future payments. Unexpended funds must be returned to the department.
Start Strong Long Day Care funding must be acquitted through this program.
Requirements relating to the transfer of a service are outlined in the section on Transferring service approval or Service ceasing to operate and in the Terms and Conditions.
More information about myGovID and Relationship Authorisation Manager
Information on myGovID and Relationship Authorisation Manager is available on the:
Having trouble with myGovID and RAM?
Support for myGovID and RAM is provided by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). Find support for:
More information about CCSS
CCSS helpdesk telephone: 1300 667 276
CCSS helpdesk email: CCSHelpdesk@education.gov.au
To speak to someone about Start Strong Long Day Care, please contact the department by:
- calling 1800 619 113
- emailing firstname.lastname@example.org