Start Strong Long Day Care program guidelines

This page describes the purpose, funding information and provider requirements of the Start Strong Long Day Care program.

1. Purpose

The Start Strong Long Day Care (LDC) program aims to support the provision of quality early childhood education to four and five year old children in the year before school. 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.

Under the Start Strong LDC program, eligible services receive additional funding to support four and five year old children in the year before school.

The funding is being continued in 2022-23 to help increase access to early childhood education in the year before starting school.

2. Eligibility criteria

2.1 Service eligibility criteria

Long day care and services which are listed on the Australian Government's Child Care Subsidy System (CCSS), and regulated under the National Quality Framework, may be 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 a 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 2021 and May 2022; and
  • Complete the preschool indicator of the CCSS in August 2021 or May 2022 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.

Applications cannot be submitted for this program. The department will conduct relevant checks to identify and confirm the eligibility of services. Eligible Approved Providers will receive communication from the department.

2.2 Child eligibility criteria

To be eligible for funding under the Start Strong LDC program, a child must be:

  • 4 or 5 years old on, or before, 1 July 2021
  • Attending an early childhood education program
  • Listed on CCSS
  • Not yet in compulsory schooling.

Refer to section '3.1 Calculation of funding' of these guidelines for the funding rates for different children.

3. Funding

3.1 Calculation of funding

Under the Start Strong LDC program, two types of funding are accessible:

  1. the Annual Payment; and
  2. the Top-up Payment.

Annual Payment

The annual payment of funding (Annual Payment) for eligible services is calculated based on the NSW enrolment data from the representative week of 2 August to 8 August 2021 (August 2021 Data).

The Annual Payment for eligible services operating and reporting through CCSS for the representative week for May 2022, but not in the representative week of 2 August to 8 August 2021, will be calculated based on the NSW enrolment data from the representative week of May 2022 only. The dates that make up the representative week in May 2022 are yet to be determined and the department will advise the Approved Provider when it is known.

Top-up Payment

The top-up payment of funding (Top-up Payment) for eligible services is calculated based on additional Equity Enrolments of 600 hours or more from the representative week in May 2022 (once selected), when compared to the August 2021 Data.

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

Four and five year old children will be classified as Equity Enrolments if they are from a low income or First Nations family. Low income status is determined by the SEIFA information of the service as determined by the Australian Government. The Australian Government uses 2016 SEIFA (Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas) data provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Four and five year old children who do not fit the equity criteria will be considered Non-Equity Enrolments for the purposes of funding calculations.

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 $724 $485
Children enrolled for less than 600 hours $485 $323
Top-up amount paid for each additional child enrolled for 600 hours or more at May 2022, when compared to August 2021 data $913 N/A

3.2 Payment of funding

The Approved Provider will not be paid unless the Early Childhood Education Grants Programs Terms and Conditions are accepted in the Early Childhood Contract Management System (ECCMS). Approved Providers must accept the Early Childhood Education Grants Programs Terms and Conditions in ECCMS before 12 May 2023 or a specified date as communicated by the department.

Annual Payments will be made from June 2022. The entire amount will be paid to the Approved Provider as one upfront payment, even if there are multiple services.

The Top-up Payment for additional equity enrolments will be made from November 2022. The entire amount will be paid to the Approved Provider as one upfront payment, even if there are multiple services.

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

ECCMS is the online system used by the department to manage funding and contracting arrangements with early childhood education service providers. Funding amounts (excluding GST) are detailed in ECCMS through the ‘Payments’ tab on the Funding Specification.

4. Program requirements

4.1 Spending rules

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;
  • develop staff, including upgrading qualifications from a diploma to a four year degree and associated staffing costs; or
  • any combination of the above.

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 2022-23 financial year, unless otherwise agreed to by the department.

4.2 Administrative requirements

The Approved Provider needs to:

  1. Ensure the service information in CCSS is correct.
  2. Ensure the Provider Approval and Service Approval information in National Quality Agenda IT System (NQA ITS) is correct.
  3. Ensure the Provider main contact email in ECCMS is correct to receive communications from the department.
  4. 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.
  5. Nominate a person in authority at the Approved Provider who will be the SP-Admin Account holder in ECCMS. The SP-Admin Account holder is the only person who can accept the Early Childhood Education Grants Programs Terms and Conditions. Only one person per provider can be nominated as SP-Admin.
  6. The nominated SP-Admin must have a myGovID Digital Identity. The SP-Admin’s myGovID must be linked to the Approved Provider’s Australian Business Number (ABN) in the Relationship Authorisation Manager (RAM) to enable access to the Early Childhood Education Grants Programs Terms and Conditions in ECCMS.
  7. Email the SP-Admin details linked to the Approved Provider’s Australian Business in RAM to the department at ecec.funding@det.nsw.edu.au, 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Accept the Early Childhood Education Grants Programs Terms and Conditions in ECCMS before 12 May 2023 or a specified date as communicated by the department. The Approved Provider will not be paid unless the Early Childhood Education Grants Programs Terms and Conditions are accepted in ECCMS.

4.3 Communications

The Department of Education may publicise and report on any funds awarded to the Approved Provider.

The Approved Provider is encouraged to publicly acknowledge the funding received through the Start Strong LDC program. 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.

4.4 Financial accountability

In accordance with the Early Childhood Education Grants Programs Terms and Conditions, Approved Providers must submit a financial accountability 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. Further information is available in the Financial Accountability Return Guide and on the Financial Accountability - Information for Services page. 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

The financial accountability can be accessed from the To Do list tab or in the ECCMS left hand menu by clicking Funding Specification:

  1. Click the Funding Specification with the financial accountability that corresponds with the funding you have received.
  2. Click the Accountability tab.
  3. Locate the correct Financial Year, then click the Financial hyperlink.
  4. The Start Strong Long Day Care financial accountability will open in a new window and display the annual funding amount received in the Total Income field (as per funding specification).
  5. 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.
  6. Add supporting information to how funds were spent in the Additional Information section. This field is optional and limited to 200 characters maximum.
  7. Once completed click Save. The status of the financial accountability will remain as Draft.
  8. Click Preview. You can download your financial accountability in PDF Format. The status of the financial accountability remain as Draft.
  9. 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 will display.
  10. Click OK. The status of the financial accountability will change to Submitted.

View the submitted financial accountability

The financial accountability can be accessed from the To Do list tab or in the ECCMS left hand menu by clicking Funding Specification:

  1. Click the funding specification with the submitted financial accountability that you want to view.
  2. Click the Accountability tab.
  3. Locate the correct Financial Year then click the Financial hyperlink. An ‘open or save’ message will display.
  4. Click Open and it will open a PDF file of the financial accountability.
  5. Save the PDF file to your computer if you want to access it outside of ECCMS.

Review of financial accountabilities

Upon receipt of your financial accountability, the following will be undertaken:

  • Your financial accountability 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 Start Strong LDC funds, and request that supporting documentation be provided by the service to the department and its representatives.

4.5 Management of surplus funds

Recovery of funds

Under the Early Childhood Education Grants Programs Terms and Conditions of funding Approved Providers are required to return any Unexpended Funds to the department. Unexpended Funds arise when the Start Strong LDC funds have not been fully spent in accordance with the Spending Rules.

Offsets against future payments

Approved Providers cannot offset any Unexpended Funds against any future payments. Unexpended Funds must be returned to the department.

Cross-subsidisation

Start Strong LDC 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 Early Childhood Education Grants Programs Terms and Conditions.

5. Service changes

5.1 Transferring service approval

If an Approved Provider is transferring a service to another Approved Provider, then the transferring Approved Provider must do the following:

  • contact the department at the contact details below when the transfer has been initiated.
  • complete all outstanding financial accountabilities in ECCMS. The department will advise of any additional financial accountabilities that require completion for the funded period up to the service transfer effective date. A manual financial accountability form may need to be completed for this purpose. The financial accountability must be completed within 30 days of the transfer of the service, unless otherwise agreed with the department.
  • give written notice to the receiving Approved Provider of the amount of funds (1) expended and (2) unexpended within 30 days of the transfer of service. The Approved Provider must also request that the receiving Approved Provider liaise with the department about this funding program.
  • return any Unexpended Funds to the department within the timeframe advised by the department.
  • comply with any direction by the department under the Funding Agreement.
  • cease expending funding from the transfer effective date unless otherwise agreed with the department.

If an Approved Provider is receiving a service from another Approved Provider, then the receiving Approved Provider must do the following to be considered eligible to receive funding:

  • liaise with the department about this funding program.
  • enter into a Funding Agreement with the department with the amount of funding to be determined by the department in its absolute discretion. There is no guarantee the receiving Approved Provider will receive further funding.

The department may take actions, if an Approved Provider transfers a service to another Approved Provider, including:

  • withholding funding for the transferring service from the receiving Approved Provider of the service, until the transfer is effective
  • withholding funding for the transferred service from the transferring Approved Provider of the service, after the transfer is effective or when the department is notified of the transfer.

5.2 Service ceasing to operate

If a service is to close/cease trading, prior to the date of closure, the Approved Providers must:

  • contact the department at the contact details below when the closure has been completed.
  • complete all outstanding financial accountabilities in ECCMS. The department will advise of any additional financial accountabilities that require completion for the closing service for the funded period up to the date of closure. A manual financial accountability form may need to be completed for this purpose. The financial accountability must be completed within 30 days of the closure of the service, unless otherwise agreed with the department.
  • cease expending funds from the date of closure.
  • return all Unexpended Funds to the department by no later than 30 days of the service closure date or as agreed by the department
  • comply with any direction by the department under the Funding Agreement.

The department may take actions if a service closes/ceases trading, including:

  • withholding funding for the service that closed/ceased trading from the Approved Provider, after the date of closure.

6. Helpful information

6.1 More information about myGovID and Relationship Authorisation Manager

Information on myGovID and Relationship Authorisation Manager is available on the:

6.2 Having trouble with myGovID and RAM?

Support for myGovID and RAM is provided by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). Find support for:

6.3 More information about Child Care Subsidy (CCS) for Approved Providers

CCS helpdesk telephone: 1300 667 276

CCS helpdesk email: ccshelpdesk@dese.gov.au

7. Contact details

To speak to someone about Start Strong Long Day Care, please contact the department by:

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