The Inclusion Support Program helps children with additional needs participate in early childhood education and care. It provides tailored support and funding to services to address barriers to inclusion.
On this page:
About the program
The Inclusion Support Program (ISP) helps children with additional needs participate in early childhood education and care (ECEC). It does this through tailored support and funding to ECEC services.
ISP supports services to:
- address barriers to inclusion
- build capacity and capability to include children with additional needs
- implement quality, inclusive and equitable practices.
The program aims to:
- provide children with additional needs the opportunity to learn and develop next to their typically developing peers
- ensure all children have genuine opportunities to access, participate and achieve positive learning outcomes.
We fund ISP, which is a national program. Inclusion Agencies in each state and territory deliver the program. To do this, they work with a national Inclusion Development Fund Manager.
What is inclusion?
The approved learning frameworks under the National Quality Framework define inclusion as ‘taking into account all children’s social, cultural and linguistic diversity (including learning styles, abilities, disabilities, gender, sexual identity, family circumstances and geographic location) in curriculum decision-making processes. The aim is to ensure all children’s experiences are recognised and valued. The intent is also for all children to have equitable access to resources and participation, and opportunities to demonstrate their learning and to value difference.’
What are additional needs?
The approved learning frameworks under the National Quality Framework define additional needs as ‘the term used for children who require or will benefit or be able to participate more fully from specific considerations, adaptations or differentiation of any aspects of the curriculum, including resources and the environment.’
The program offers 3 categories of support:
- professional support
- specialist equipment
Inclusion Agencies in each state and territory provide free advice and support to services.
They work with services to identify and address barriers to inclusion.
Each Inclusion Agency manages a Specialist Equipment Library. These libraries provide services with access to free equipment and resources to address barriers to inclusion.
The libraries include equipment like:
- portable ramps
- standing frames
- specialised furniture
- hoists, slings and harnesses
- seating or posture aids.
Services access the Specialist Equipment Library through their Inclusion Agency.
The Inclusion Development Fund is for when professional support or specialist equipment cannot address barriers.
There are 4 categories of funding, for:
- additional educators
- immediate or time-limited support
- Family Day Care
- innovative solutions.
The national Inclusion Development Fund Manager oversees funding. Services must be endorsed by their Inclusion Agency to apply for funding.
The program is open to Child Care Subsidy (CCS) approved services that provide:
- Centre Based Day Care
- Family Day Care, or
- Outside School Hours Care.
In Home Care services are not eligible. Funding may be available to support children to transition from In Home Care to another care type.
Children accessing ISP support must meet CCS eligibility requirements.
Services must contact the Inclusion Agency in their state or territory to access ISP support.
Families who think the program may benefit their child should talk to their ECEC service.
In March 2023, we commissioned independent consultants to review ISP. The review examined:
- examine the access to, affordability of, and quality of ISP services
- examine the program's performance against effectiveness, efficiency and strategic policy alignment criteria
- provide evidence-based findings to inform consideration of accessibility, future investment and policy settings.
The review’s final report was released in November 2023. The report:
- detailed 21 findings.
- identified 21 short and medium-term opportunities to strengthen the program
- recommended 5 longer-term opportunities to embed inclusion in the sector.
Resources, more information
The ISP guidelines has more information about the program.
Inclusion Support Portal
The Inclusion Support Portal is an online platform where services interact with the program. We have resources to help services navigate the portal.
Use the permission to share personal information form to gain consent to share a child’s personal information to access accessing support.