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The Queensland Government has provided additional guidance and context on its significant funding reform for early childhood education and care (ECEC) providers in Queensland, designed to help providers navigate the new system.

The increased commitment to kindergarten funding and the reform that lies at the heart of the policy mix were first outlined in the state Budget in June 2022 at which point $77 million dollars of new funding was allocated. 

The new funding arrangements were initiated 1 January 2023 with the new structure replacing the existing Queensland Kindergarten Funding Scheme originally introduced in 2008. 

The following are the key areas of focus for long day care (LDC) services that qualify as kindy program providers. 

1. Fee relief funding to reduce the cost of care for families

Eligible families (whether they attend kindy in a LDC setting or in a sessional environment) may be eligible for subsidies via the Kindy Plus scheme. 

For vulnerable families or those experiencing disadvantage $1,409.50 (falling to $1,000 after 1 July 2023) can be used to offset out-of-pocket costs for children attending a kindy program in a LDC setting. 

For families that do not meet the vulnerable or experiencing disadvantage test, but who are confirmed recipients of either Family Tax Benefit A or B, can still receive a subsidy amounting to $500. 

Children attending sessional kindergartens can access larger subsidies with 100 per cent of fees paid for 600 hours of attendance or up to $2,000 under the Kindy FTB program. A useful step by step guide to support families to understand the process and eligibility requirements is available on the kindy savings web page.

Additional affordability funding for families attending LDC kindy programs can be accessed through a separate stream called the “Base Subsidy” which is allocated on a per enrolled child basis and amounts to $1,874.50 each of which 75 per cent ($1,405.88) must be used to reduce fees OR improve early childhood teacher entitlements. 

The equivalent amount for sessional kinders is $1,500 per child per annum. 

2. Funding to support early childhood teachers acquisition and retention in LDCs

Supporting providers to attract and retain early childhood teachers (ECTs) is a core objective of the new funding arrangements introduced by the Queensland Government. 

LDC providers have the option to allocate 75 per cent of their base subsidy (or $1,405.88) to improve ECT entitlements such as additional pay, additional leave, lump sum bonuses and more.  

Access to the base subsidy stream is contingent on eligibility criteria being met with employing an ECT and delivering an approved kindergarten program being the main criteria. 

In addition, a Service Location Subsidy stream is available for services located in a remote area as defined by the ABS that is designed to assist with attracting and retaining qualified ECTs

Services in outer regional areas can qualify for a minimum payment of $8,228 or if more than 22 children, $374 per child, those in remote areas a minimum payment of $21,428 or if more than 22 children, $974 per child and those in very remote areas a minimum payment of $30,910 or if more than 22 children, $1,405 per child. 

Sessional kinders have access to the same stream with equivalent amounts available.

3. Funding to support resources acquisition and extra-curricular activities

As part of the “Base Subsidy” stream LDC providers are able to spend 25 per cent of funds received on quality and age-appropriate resources specifically for eligible children and provide extracurricular kindergarten activities at no cost to families. 

This amounts to $468.62 per eligible child per annum.

The equivalent number for sessional kinders is substantially higher at $3,618.30 per child per annum. 

4. Funding to support educational needs

The educational need grant (Kindy Uplift) is provided to eligible service providers, both LDC and sessional, to respond to children’s learning and development needs through provision of evidence-based initiatives. It is service specific with amounts determined by the Queensland Department of Education.

It is designed to strengthen children’s access to, and meaningful participation in, a full range of kindergarten experiences and must be used to fund programs, resources, educational supports and professional development to build educator capability, support inclusion and improve children’s learning and development.

Each Kindy Uplift plan must be approved by a Kindy Uplift advisor allocated to the service and must not be used for any costs not directly related to the delivery of the approved Kindy Uplift plan.

5. Funding to support inclusion objectives 

The inclusion subsidy is provided to service providers to support inclusion of all eligible children in an approved kindergarten program irrespective of diversity of background or additional needs. Funding is provided to ensure all eligible children meaningfully participate in kindergarten on the same basis as their peers.

The subsidy must be spent to improve access and participation for all children, including those with diverse backgrounds or additional needs and amounts to $154 per child with funding to be spent on programs, resources, equipment, educational materials, professional development, or visiting partners or specialists.

The inclusion amounts are the same for both LDC and sessional services. 

A range of guideline packs have been developed by the QLD Government to support providers, and families, understand and claim subsidy streams including: Queensland Kindergarten Funding Essentials for long day care providers and Queensland Kindergarten Funding Essentials for sessional kindergartens.