Providing quality inclusive care environments



 
The Inclusion Support Program (ISP) assists Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) services to include children with additional needs by providing tailored inclusion advice and support, as well as funding to support services with inclusion barriers. Support available through the ISP for ECEC services includes:
  • Support from an Inclusion Agency (IA)
  • Specialist Equipment Library (SEL)
  • Funding from the Inclusion Development Fund (IDF) to address barriers to inclusion that cannot be resolved through support from an IA or the SEL.
The four streams of IDF support have different eligibility criteria, application processes and approved funding purposes. The four streams are:
  • 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 ISP has a focus on building child care services’ ability and confidence to include children with additional needs and relying less on ISP funding support.

ECEC services accessing inclusion support through this program are making a commitment to building their capacity and capability to ensure inclusion practices are part of their every day service delivery.

The Inclusion Support Program is funded by the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment. For additional information, including Frequently Asked Questions, refer to the department’s website.

Child 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.

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.

The IS Portal

The IS Portal is a user-friendly web-based application to facilitate early childhood care and education (ECEC) services’ interaction with the Inclusion Support Program. It enables ECEC services to develop an online Strategic Inclusion Plan (SIP) to help in addressing the barriers to inclusion and embed inclusive practices at their service. When required ECEC services use the IS Portal to access funding through the Inclusion Development Fund (IDF).

The authentication process to access the IS Portal is PRODA.  Please contact your Inclusion Agency in the first instance to assist with accessing the IS Portal. For further written information please read the Inclusion Support Portal access using PRODA fact sheet.

Do you need further information or technical support?

For further information about accessing the IS Portal refer to the Department "IS Portal Information" page, including the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Inclusion Support Portal.

Clearing the cache in your web browser regularly will help the IS Portal to function as intended.  Below are instructions which can be used to clear the cache for different browsers:
Internet Explorer
Firefox
Google Chrome

If you need technical support, refer to the Where to go for technical support for the Inclusion Support (IS) Portal.

About Inclusion Agency (IA)

Each state and territory has an IA to assist services to build their capability and capacity to provide and embed inclusive practices in their delivery of early childhood and child care services. IAs employ skilled Inclusion Professionals (IPs) who provide tailored support to eligible ECEC services to address inclusion barriers and develop their inclusion capability. This will occur through the development of a Strategic Inclusion Plan (SIP) using reflective practice and a strengths based approach.

About the Inclusion Development Fund (IDF)

Under the ISP, funding will be available for ECCC services to address barriers to inclusion through the Inclusion Development Fund (IDF), including subsidising the employment of an additional educator in centre based day services, a subsidy top up for FDC educators and funding to support innovative and flexible solutions to inclusion barriers.

There are four funding streams available to address barriers to inclusion that cannot be resolved through support from an IA or the SEL. The four streams of IDF support have different eligibility criteria, application processes and approved funding purposes.
  • IDF Subsidy for an Additional Educator provides per hour funding to centre based day services. This subsidises the employment of an additional educator to increase the educator to child ratio in the care environment. The increased ratio assists educators to support the inclusion of children with ongoing high support needs alongside their typically developing peers.
  • The IDF Subsidy for Immediate/Time limited Support enables centre based services to immediately engage an Additional Educator to assist with the inclusion of a child with additional and high support needs. This is for a limited period while alternative and more stable support options are determined.  
  • The IDF FDC Top Up provides a fee top up payment to an educator who is including a child with additional and ongoing high support needs. If the child requires significant additional support resulting in the educator being unable to enrol the maximum number of children allowed under National Law the educator may be eligible for FDC Top Up.
  • Innovative Solutions Support funds flexible and alternative solutions to address inclusion barriers which are not funded under other IDF support streams and addressed through support provided by the Inclusion Agency. Inclusion Agencies can assist services to identify and apply for Innovative Solutions Support. IDF Information for Services brochure.

IDF Information for Services brochure

Identifying the need and applying for inclusion supports

Step 1: Contact your local Inclusion Agency (IA)

Refer to the ISP Provider list to find the contact details of your local IA.

Step 2Complete a Strategic Inclusion Plan (SIP) in collaboration with your IA

The IA will generate a record for the ‘Strategic Inclusion Plan’ (SIP) and issue a Letter of Introduction to the service. Each service provider has one SIP, regardless of the number of service types they operate at the site.  Where a service does not have the necessary infrastructure to support the IS Portal, a paper-based SIP is available through the IA.

The SIP is the first step to accessing support from the program. The IA will assist the service to develop the SIP. A SIP identifies the barriers to inclusion and the inclusive strategies educators will implement to address these barriers. The SIP may identify inclusion barriers that cannot be resolved by support from an IA alone and require additional supports. In these circumstances, the ISP can provide further support to services through the Specialist Equipment Library (SEL) and/or the Inclusion Development Fund (IDF). Click here for more information about developing a Strategic Inclusion Plan.

Step 3: Is specialist equipment library required? (If no go to Step 4)

If the SIP identifies that specialist equipment would support the service to include all children, the IA will assist the service to access the SEL.

Step 4: Is funded support through the IDF required?

There are 4 streams of IDF support which each have eligibility criteria, application requirements and approved funding purposes. The four streams of IDF funding are:

Step 5: Create a case on the IS Portal

To apply for IDF support the service representative will log on to the IS Portal using their PRODA credentials, create an IS Case and complete the information required for the IDF stream selected. For IDF stream specific information, please refer to the ‘Apply’ page in the relevant funding stream, ie. Subsidy for an Additional EducatorImmediate/Time Limited SupportFamily Day Care Top Up and Innovative Solutions.

Step 6: Assessing an application

The IDF Manager will assess the application for funding against the eligibility requirements set out in the ISP guidelines. The service will be advised of the outcome of their application, by the IDF Manager, within the timeframe specified for the IDF stream.

Step 7: Outcome

If an application is approved, the IDF Manager will send the service an Approval Letter, via email, to the contact details on the application, outlining the:

  • Start and end date of the approval period
  • Approved number of subsidised hours that can be claimed each week
  • Maximum number of subsidised hours over the approval period
  • Approved number of non-face to face hours over the approval period; and
  • Date by which the service should apply for a renewal of funding (if applicable for the IDF stream). 

If the service has applied for Innovative Solutions Support, the service will receive a letter of offer which must be signed and returned by the service before funding can be provided.

If an application is not approved, the IDF Manager will send the service an Application Declined Letter, via email, advising that the application has been declined and the rationale for which it was declined.

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.

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.

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.