Providing quality inclusive care environments

The ISP assists ECCC services to include children with additional needs by providing tailored inclusion advice and support, as well as funding to support services with more challenging inclusion barriers. Support available through the ISP for ECCC 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.

ECCC 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 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.

Child Eligibility Requirements

From 2 July 2018, under the new Child Care Package, 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.

A Fact Sheet is available to provide key information and answer FAQs.

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, simplified web-based application to facilitate ECCC services’ interaction with the ISP. It provides step-by-step guidance for services to complete an online Strategic Plan (SIP) and if required, access funding through the Inclusion Development Fund (IDF).

Eligible services can seek funded support through the IS Portal. A flowchart is available to assist Early Childhood and Child Care services to understand the process of accessing the IS Portal.

Key requirements for each user accessing the IS Portal are:
  • Be registered in PRODA (Provider Digital Access) and added to the service’s Personnel Records through the third party software, or through the Provider Entry Point (PEP) as a:
    • Persons with Management or Control of the Provider; or
    • Persons Responsible for the Day-to-Day Operation of the Service.
  • Have a unique email address that is not shared between other personnel records for different people.
  • A Standard Auskey. Each person/s responsible for accessing the IS Portal in the ECCC service must be registered with a standard AUSkey. AUSkey is a secure login that identifies the individual when participating in government online services on behalf of business. Further information about AUSkey is available on the Australian Business Register website.
  • These requirements provide assurance that the individual is authorised to access the IS Portal and engage with ISP on behalf of the service.
    • Do you want information on what systems and browsers are compatible with AUSkey? Go to the AUSkey website.
    • Do you want information on how to set up an AUSkey? Go to the AUSkey website.
    • Do you want information on managing an AUSkey, including using AUSkey on another computer? Go to the AUSkey website.
The Inclusion Agency can grant access to the IS Portal for the first user in the service, who has an AUSKey and unique email address, and then the first user can provide access to additional users for the service. Click here for further information on provisioning other users.

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
Google Chrome

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

For further advice about IS Portal Provisioned Users and Authorised Personnel - see the Fact Sheet.

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 ECCC 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.

How to access the Specialist Equipment Library (SEL)

If the Strategic Inclusion Plan (SIP) identifies the need for specialist equipment, the IA will assist the service to borrow equipment to facilitate and support the inclusion of a child with additional needs. For more information about the Specialist Equipment Library contact your Inclusion Agency.

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 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 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 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 a disability, undergoing assessment for disability, or children presenting with challenging behaviours. This is for a limited period of time while alternative support options are being considered.  
  • The IDF FDC Top Up provides a fee top up payment to an educator who is including a child with additional needs, with 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. Bicultural Support is an option for support through the IDF Innovative Solutions.

IDF Information for Services brochure

Identifying the need and applying for inclusion supports

Step 1: Contact your local Inclusion Agency (IA)

To find the contact details of your local IA you will soon be able to enter your postcode or suburb in the ‘Find your local IA’ above. The specific arrangements for accessing support from an IA may vary. The IA will discuss the service’s inclusion needs. This function will be available soon.

Step 2: Complete a 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 will have 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 complete the SIP. A SIP identifies the barriers to inclusion and the inclusive strategies educators will implement. 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 a different eligibility criteria, application process and approved funding process. The four streams of IDF funding are:

Step 5: Create a case on the IS Portal

To apply for IDF support the service will need to log on to the IS Portal using  their AUSkey, 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 Educator, Immediate/Time Limited Support, Family 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 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

ECCC services eligible for support through the ISP are:

  • Approved services:
    • Long Day Care (LDC)
    • Outside School Hours Care, including Vacation Care, and
    • Family Day Care
  • Occasional Care
  • Mobile Services, and
  • 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 sub-optimal 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

Feedback, Complaints and Appeals

The IDFM appreciates feedback about our administration of the IDF. If you have feedback please email

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.