The Inclusion Support Program

The Inclusion Support Program (ISP) provides support to eligible mainstream Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) services build their capacity and capability to include children with additional needs, alongside  their typically developing peers, so all children have the opportunity to access, participate and achieve positive learning outcomes as per the Approved Learning Outcomes.  The program provides tailored inclusion advice and support for ECEC services from state or territory based 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 ECEC 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.

The Inclusion Support Program is funded by the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment. The department has developed a flow chart to explain how the Inclusion Support Program can assist your early childhood education and care service to include your child.  For additional information, including Frequently Asked Questions, refer to the department’s website.

Children with additional needs

While there is no national definition of ‘additional needs’, there are children who may need or require special considerations or adaptions  to participate fully in ECEC services (although not all children with additional needs will require support).

Additional needs may arise for children who:

  • have a disability or developmental delay
  • are presenting with challenging behaviours
  • have a serious medical or health condition, including mental health
  • are presenting with trauma-related behaviours.
Meeting the needs and requirements of:
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
  • children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
  • children from refugee or humanitarian backgrounds

may also require specific considerations, such as cultural support, to ensure that these children are able to participate fully in ECEC services and experience positive outcomes.

Inclusion Development Fund (IDF)

Participation in early childhood education and care (ECEC) services offers children with additional needs the opportunity to be engaged in play based learning environments and programs with their typically developing peers, as per Approved Learning Frameworks including the Early Years Learning  Framework and My Time, Our Place – Framework for School Age Care in Australia. 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. Your service and the Inclusion Agency will determine the most suitable funding stream based on the services’ identified barriers to inclusion.
There are four streams of IDF support. Each stream has eligibility criteria, application requirements 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.

Child Care Subsidy Requirements

All children included in an Inclusion Development Fund (IDF) application or approval must meet the eligibility requirements for Child Care Subsidy. This includes meeting residency rules and immunisation requirements.  Please see Inclusion Support Program and Child Care Subsidy Eligibility Requirements Fact Sheet.

For further information about child eligibility requirements:
• IDF Subsidy for an Additional Educator
• Immediate/Time Limited Support
• FDC Top Up

Please note that child eligibility requirements are only one of the criteria which must be met for a service to be eligible for IDF Subsidy.

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 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 the service to implement the changes to the program, environment and educator practices to assist them to include all children.

Services may be including children with additional needs and decide they do not require an increase in the number of educators in the room. They may decide that by 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. Alternatively the service may decide that they will implement an Innovative Solution project to build the educator skills, knowledge and confidence in relation to inclusive practices, and/or continue to access the support of the Inclusion Agency to assist educators to develop and implement strategies to include all children.

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 program for all children. The additional educator is 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’s participation in all aspects of the program.

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, Skills and Employment 'Permission to Share Personal Information form' (Family Consent Form). If the service applies for longer term funded support, documentary evidence that demonstrates that your child has additional and ongoing high support needs will be required.

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, such as a report or letter from a medical practitioner, psychologist, allied health professional including social worker or counsellor, or nurse practitioner including maternal health nurse 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?

  • Talk to the service about your concerns.
  • If you still are concerned contact the IDFM on 1800 824 955 or idfm@ku.com.au to discuss your concerns.

How IDF subsidy can be used

  • 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 a specific child
  • Assistance to meet ECEC service licensing requirements
  • Assistance which is a state/territory responsibility, eg. school education
  • To provide therapy or early intervention supports
  • To solely provide medical/nursing assistance
  • To engage an additional educator in a FDC environment

Eligible Services

ECEC services eligible for support through the ISP are services that are approved by the department for the provision of Child Care Subsidy (CCS) under Family Assistance Law. These ECEC services can include:
  • Centre-Based Day Care including Long Day Care, Occasional Care and Outside School Hours Care
  • Family Day Care
Specialist services are not eligible for assistance under the program. 

Feedback, Complaints and Appeals

The IDFM appreciates feedback about our administration of the IDF. If you have feedback please email idfm@ku.com.au.

The IDFM welcomes the opportunity to respond to concerns, complaints or appeals.  For further information please refer to our Complaints Management and Appeals Policy and Process.

Find out how the ISP can help your child's service