The Inclusion Support Programme

The Inclusion Support Programme (ISP) assists early childhood and child care services to include children with additional needs by providing tailored inclusion advice and support from state-wide Inclusion Agencies. The ISP also provides funding to address inclusion barriers and specialist equipment where required.

Support available through the ISP for early childhood and child care services includes:
  • Support from an Inclusion Agency (IA) – IAs employ skilled Inclusion Professionals who provide tailored support to eligible ECCC services to address inclusion barriers and develop their inclusion capacity and capability.
  • Specialist Equipment Library (SEL) – The service can borrow equipment to facilitate and support the inclusion of a child with additional needs. The Inclusion Agency can assist the service to access equipment through the Specialist Equipment Library.
  • Funding from the Inclusion Development Fund – Services can access funding to address barriers to inclusion that cannot be resolved through support from an Inclusion Agency or the Specialist Equipment Library.

Inclusion Development Fund (IDF)

Participation in early childhood and child care (ECCC) services offers children with additional needs the opportunity to be engaged in play based learning environments and programs with their same age peers. This opportunity will complement other supports and experiences children may access elsewhere, such as early intervention therapy.

Funding may be required by a service to assist in addressing the barriers to inclusion to ensure all children can participate. There are four streams of IDF support. Each stream has different eligibility criteria, application processes and approved funding purposes.
  • IDF Subsidy for an Additional Educator
  • IDF Subsidy for Immediate/Time Limited Support
  • IDF Subsidy – Family Day Care Top Up
  • IDF Innovative Solutions Support
The IDF Manager assesses and determines an outcome for applications against the eligibility criteria for the IDF support stream outlined in the ISP Guidelines.

Each of the IDF funding streams has a specific purpose with a different eligibility criteria and application process. Your service and the Inclusion Agency will determine the most suitable funding stream based on the services’ needs.

How does a service decide if they need an Additional Educator? (centre based services only)

Services develop a Strategic Inclusion Plan (SIP) to identify the barriers to including all children and plan changes and actions educators and the service will implement to address these barriers. Through this planning process the service may identify additional supports they require to address barriers to inclusion.

Additional support may include an increased educator to child ratio in the care environment. In this case, if a service is including children with high support needs, they can apply for short or longer term funding to assist educators to implement the changes and actions in their SIP, to assist them to include all children.

Services may be including children with a diagnosed disability or undergoing assessment of disability, and decide they do not require an increase in the number of educators in the room. They may decide that putting other actions in place, such as changes to the physical environment or the program and experiences offered to children, will enable them to include all children. The service can also continue to access the support of the Inclusion Agency to assist educators to develop and implement strategies to include all children and build educator capacity.

If the service applies for an Additional Educator - What does this mean for your child?

If your child has high support needs, the service may identify the need for an increased educator to child ratio for some of the time your child attends. An additional educator may be required for:
  • A time limited period to settle your child into the care environment; or
  • For a longer period.
The additional educator works as a member of the team to provide a quality inclusive programme for all children, they are not funded to provide one to one support for an individual child. The increase in the number of educators in the room will help educators to implement actions from their SIP, such as changes to the program which could include educator supported small group experiences, indoor/outdoor play offered at the same time, use of alternative ways of communicating with all children, more assistance for children to join in play and talk with their peers.

If the service decides to not apply for an Additional Educator – What do I do?

Communication and building a shared understanding of your child, and what the service can offer, is key to your child’s inclusion at the service. Talk to the service about how they will support your child to be included and participate in the program. Share information about your child and regularly discuss how your child is enjoying and participating in the program, as well as identifying any concerns or questions you have.

It is helpful to remember that educators already have the knowledge, skills and resources to offer a program to cater to differences in children's needs, abilities and interests. They do this every day. Services employ trained teachers and educators who must plan and provide a quality program for all children under the National Quality Standards. A service may decide that they do not require more educators in the service to offer a quality program which meets all children's needs. However, the service should be implementing practices, and making changes to their practices where needed, to ensure your child is included.

What other additional supports may services apply for? (Centre based & FDC)

Services may decide to apply for Innovative Solutions Support to assist them to build educator knowledge and skills to include all children. This support provides services with the opportunity to try alternate ideas and solutions to address barriers to inclusion, other than employment of an Additional educator. This can provide support such as an interpreter or bicultural educator, or advice and tailored support from a specialist.

What funded support is available for Family Fay Care (FDC) services?

The IDF FDC Top Up provides a fee top up payment to an educator who is including a child with ongoing high support needs. If the child requires significant additional support, and as a result the educator is unable to enrol the maximum number of children allowed under National Law, the educator may be eligible for FDC Top Up.

What information will a family be asked to provide?

To support an IDF application for an Additional Educator or Family Day Care Top Up you will need to sign a Department of Education and Training 'Permission to Share Personal Information form' (Family Consent Form) and if required, provide documentary evidence for your child that meets the requirements in the ISP Guidelines.

Eligible documentation can include the child’s current Health Care Card with the code ‘CD’, or documentation to show the child is a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participant. Other forms of documentation may also be accepted. Your service will advise you whether you need to provide any documentation.

How long does it take for the IDFM to assess an application?

Applications for funded support for IDF Subsidy for an Additional Educator or Family Day Care Top Up are typically assessed by the IDFM within 15 business days and funding approvals commence the following Monday after assessment. Approvals can be for up to a 12 month period. Please note that applications from Vacation Care services are prioritised prior to and during Vacation Care to assist services to access the funded support required for the vacation care period.

Applications for Immediate/Limited Term Support are typically assessed by the IDFM within 5 business days and funding approvals commence the following Monday after assessment. Approvals can be for up to 8 weeks.

What do I do if the service has been funded for an Additional Educator but I have concerns about how they are using this support?

Ways the IDF subsidy can be utilised

  • To increase the educator to child ratio to support inclusion of all children in centre based care environments for a limited or longer term period; or
  • To provide a fee top up payment to FDC educators who cannot enrol the maximum number of children due to the impact of including a child with significant high support needs; or
  • To support flexible and alternative solutions to address inclusion barriers in the service which are not funded under other IDF support streams and addressed through support provided by the Inclusion Agency.

The IDF subsidy cannot be used

  • For one to one support
  • For respite care
  • To provide therapy or early intervention supports
  • When children are being funded to participate in state funded preschool or kindergarten programmes
  • To provide medical/nursing assistance

Eligible Services

ECCC services eligible for support through the ISP are:
  • Child Care Benefit approved Long Day Care (LDC), Outside School Hours Care (OOSH) (including Vacation Care)
  • Family Day Care (FDC) services
  • Occasional Care Services
  • Mobile services
  • Budget Based Funded (BBF) Program services

Children with additional needs

While there is no national definition of ‘additional needs’, a range of risk factors may (but not always) lead children with particular characteristics to be vulnerable to suboptimal learning and life outcomes. These include (but are not limited to):
  • Children with disability including those undergoing assessment for disability
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
  • Children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
  • Children from a refugee or humanitarian background
  • Children with serious medical condition/s
  • Children presenting with language and speech delays
  • Children presenting with disruptive behaviour
The Inclusion Support Programme is funded by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training.  For additional information, including Frequently Asked Questions, refer to the department's website.

IDF Information for Families brochure