In 2023, we have increased grant values significantly.
You can apply now. We accept applications year-round and evaluate them in batched rounds throughout the year.
Categories of grants
- Integrated Children's Centre: These grants provide funding for new community hubs, bringing together a range of professional services to deliver education, care, health and support to children and their families.
- New Early Learning Facility: These grants provide funding for new kindergartens that will offer high-quality early learning for 3 and 4-year-olds.
- Modular Kindergarten Buildings: These grants cover the full cost of high-quality modular buildings. They can be available quickly to meet urgent demand for kindergarten places. They are relocatable, and their quick delivery reduces safety risks, construction time and costs.
- Expansion: These grants provide funding for projects to increase the licenced capacity of kindergartens offering programs for 3 and 4-year-old children.
Extra support to build capacity
Early childhood updates
The Building Blocks Capacity Building stream offers grants to help increase capacity through new or expanded kindergartens.
Capacity grant funding has already increased significantly since the introduction of free Three-Year-Old Kindergarten, with grants now scaled in line with the number of new places created.
Eligible projects can now access funding at up to double the rates previously available.
All applications must address unmet demand as identified in the relevant Kindergarten Infrastructure and Services Plan (KISP). KISPs will be updated in 2023 as part of the Best Start, Best Life program and while this process is underway, we encourage you to apply based on the information currently available to you. Please refer to the KISP section below for further information regarding KISPs and the rollout of the .
Making the best use of existing facilities and resources can help many services to offer more places to local families. Before progressing with an infrastructure solution, consider how you can maximise your enrolments and make best use of your existing facilities.
Your project must be for a facility in Victoria that is, or will be, approved to provide a funded Three and Four-Year-Old Kindergarten/Pre-Prep program and must offer or intend to offer both programs.
Four categories of grants can be applied for
- Integrated Children’s Centre;
- New Early Learning Facility;
- Modular Kindergarten Facility; and
Through these grant categories, the Building Blocks Capacity Building stream will:
- create additional infrastructure capacity for funded Three- and/or Four-Year-Old Kindergarten, including the early years of the roll-out of Pre-Prep;
- address unmet demand as identified in the relevant KISP;
- promote integrated service delivery, so families can access early childhood education and care, health and development and family services at one location;
- improve access to local and responsive early childhood services for children from vulnerable and/or disadvantaged families; and
- establish early childhood infrastructure at or near school sites.
Note applications require a cost plan prepared by a licensed quantity surveyor (excluding modular kindergarten grants) which includes a minimum cost contingency of 15% (excluding Modular applications).
Kindergarten Infrastructure and Services Plans
Kindergarten Infrastructure and Services Plans (KISPs) were agreed with all local governments to support the infrastructure expansion required for Three-Year-Old Kindergarten. KISPs set out agreed estimates of kindergarten supply and demand, and unmet demand over the implementation of the reform. Collectively, they provide a consistent, state-wide planning framework designed to support sector planning and help ensure investment is targeted where it is needed to support the reform.
While a KISP is not a funding document and does not commit any party to funding specific projects, future investment requests through Building Blocks and decisions about local government or not-for-profit projects must address unmet demand identified in the relevant KISP.
KISPs will be updated in 2023 to incorporate the additional demand generated by Pre-Prep and other up to date data as required, however this process will extend beyond this coming grant round. Your application for this grant round should align with forecast unmet demand in the existing KISP for the area, and/or demonstrate that the project will support demand in the early years of the roll-out of Pre-Prep. Please refer to details of the roll-out schedule for .
For the local government area (LGA) where a project is located, applicants to the Capacity Building stream must refer to the published KISP or, because KISPs will be updated throughout 2023 to respond to Pre-Prep demand, other evidence to demonstrate that the project is in an area with infrastructure need based on the Pre-Prep roll-out. Please refer to and details of the roll-out schedule for .
Integrated children’s centre
Purpose of grant
Integrated Children’s Centres are hubs for the community, bringing together a range of services working together to deliver education, care, health and support services to children and their families.
Integrated Children’s Centres funded through Building Blocks must provide or intend to provide:
- a funded kindergarten program for three and four-year-old children. This can be sessional and/or integrated with long day care;
- must be a new building and cannot be an extension or refurbishment of an existing facility;
- long day care (unless there is no projected demand in the local area);
- flexible, multi-purpose spaces and other services that meet the needs of the local community, including one or more of the following services:
- Maternal and Child Health services;
- allied health services for early years (e.g. early childhood intervention services);
- family services;
- supported playgroups or community parent-led playgroups;
- parenting groups or programs;
- occasional care;
- family day care program coordination;
- counselling services;
- community meeting spaces;
- outside school hours care; or
- adult education programs.
Previously available funding Currently available funding Kindergarten places created $2,000,000 $4,500,000 2 x 33 place rooms $3,000,000 $6,750,000 3 x 33 place rooms $4,000,000 $9,000,000 4 x 33 place rooms
Funding support available through this program has more than doubled in 2023 to provide additional support to the sector to invest in new capacity in areas of demand. For example, the grant available for a facility that delivers two new 33-place rooms of kindergarten has increased from $2 million in 2022, to $4.5 million in 2023.
Funding amounts are scalable. This means that funding is increased, and decreased pro-rata based on the number of Approved Places being created. For further information regarding scalability please refer to Building Blocks Capacity Building Assessment Factsheet below.
We will only consider project costs relating to the early childhood infrastructure element of an Integrated Children’s Centre. For example, if a proposed project also includes a library or sport and recreation facilities then the costs for these elements cannot be included in the application.
Integrated Children’s Centres must be completed and acquitted within 24 months of the funding being announced by the Minister for Early Childhood & Pre-Prep.
New Early Learning Facility
Purpose of grant
New Early Learning Facilities provide high-quality early learning programs, including funded kindergarten programs for three and four-year-old children.
The location and design of new early learning facilities should respond to the needs of local families and support partnerships with other local services for children and families.
New Early Learning Facilities funded through Building Blocks must provide or intend to provide a funded kindergarten program for three and four-year-old children and support the delivery of other services, including long day care, Maternal and Child Health Services, or playgroups.
The funding must be for a new building and cannot be an extension or refurbishment of an existing facility.
Previously available funding Currently available funding Kindergarten places created $1,500,000 $4,000,000 2 x 33 place rooms $2,250,000 $6,000,000 3 x 33 place rooms $3,000,000 $8,000,000 4 x 33 place rooms
Funding support available through this program has more than doubled in 2023 to provide additional support to the sector to invest in new capacity in areas of demand. For example, the grant available for a facility that delivers two new 33-place rooms of kindergarten has increased from $1.5 million in 2022, to $4 million in 2023.
Funding amounts are scalable. This means that funding is increased and de-creased pro-rata based on the number of Approved Places being created.
New Early Learning Facilities must be completed and acquitted within 18 months of the funding being announced by the Minister for Early Childhood & Pre-Prep.
Purpose of grant
Modular kindergarten facilities are templated, modern and efficient solution for delivering quality infrastructure in shorter timeframes. The VSBA has a team dedicated to the delivery of approved modular kindergarten facility grants. Projects are delivered by the VSBA on behalf of the applicant, providing an end-to-end delivery process, including project management services throughout the modular kindergarten process. This can significantly reduce the resourcing requirements on applicants compared with independently designed and managed projects.
Applicants seeking a modular kindergarten must contact the VSBA Early Childhood Grants team to discuss the application before it is submitted. The team will work through site suitability, budget, and delivery elements to ensure our modular kindergarten buildings are an appropriate solution for the site.
Modular Kindergarten Facilities can be located on Department of Education (the Department) owned land or non-Department-owned land.
Modular kindergarten facilities are fully funded by the VSBA where demand, as identified by agreed KISP, is clearly demonstrated.
There are three templated options, a one room 33 approved place facility, a two room 66 approved place facility, or a three room 99 approved place facility, with an additional option to include maternal child health or additional office space.
Modular kindergarten facilities funded through Building Blocks must provide or intend to provide a funded kindergarten program for three and four-year-old children.
Proposals may also support the delivery of other services, including long day care, Maternal and Child Health Services, or playgroups.
Eligible organisations can apply for grants for the manufacture, delivery and installation of the modular kindergarten facility and outdoor learning. Organisations can apply for:
- a one-room (33 Approved Places) modular kindergarten facility and associated works, delivered by the Department and valued up to $1.35 million;
- a two-room (66 Approved Places) modular kindergarten facility and associated works, delivered by the Department and valued up to $2.0 million;
- a three-room (99 Approved Places) modular kindergarten facility and associated works, delivered by the Department and valued up to $3.0 million.
Additional funding may be available to support projects with complex site conditions.
Potential Modular Kindergarten projects undergo a pre application process with the VSBA. This process then enables a facility to have streamlined application process. Further, the streamlined assessment takes into account the fact that modular buildings are a templated design and are delivered by the VSBA.
For further information regarding modular grant merit assessment criteria, please refer to the Building Blocks Capacity Building Assessment Factsheet below.
Modular kindergarten facilities will be delivered as a partnership between the applicant and the VSBA. Project completion timelines are agreed on a case-by-case basis but are expected to take an average of 12 months.
Purpose of grant
Expansion grants increase the number of Approved Places of existing facilities that are already approved to provide a funded kindergarten program for three and four-year-old children.
Expansion grants must provide or intend to provide an increase to licensed places at existing facilities delivering funded kindergarten programs for three and four-year-old children.
Previously available funding Currently available funding Kindergarten places created $900,000 $1,500,000 1 x 33 place room $1,800,000 $3,000,000 2 x 33 place rooms $2,700,000 $4,500,000 3 x 33 place rooms
Funding available through this program has increased substantially in 2023 to better support the sector to create new capacity in areas of demand. For example, the grant available for an expansion that creates additional capacity of 33 places has increased from $900,000 in 2022 to $1.5 million in 2023.
The funding level for an expansion is scalable based on proposed services expanding to create 33 Approved Places. This means that funding is increased, and decreased pro-rata based on the number of Approved Places being created.
Expansion projects must be completed and acquitted within 12 months of the funding being announced by the Minister for Early Childhood.
What can be funded What cannot be funded
- project management costs
- planning and design costs
- soil hygienist reports
- site preparation, including clearing or demolition (if the project will be on Department land please contact VSBA before applying to confirm how these costs can be funded)
- construction and commissioning
- landscaping and car parking
- fixed fittings and fixed equipment
- removal of contaminates on project sites (e.g. asbestos/arsenic), as long as it is within scope of the State’s financial contribution to the project.
- site acquisition and lease costs
- routine or cyclical maintenance works
- purchase of cars, buses and other vehicles
- ongoing administration or operational costs
- staff salaries and training
- toys, portable equipment and consumables
- cosmetic upgrades that do not increase capacity
- removal of contaminates on projects sites (e.g. asbestos/arsenic), following announcement of the grant
- additional funding due to project cost overruns.
The Building Blocks Capacity Building stream will not fund projects that:
- do not create additional kindergarten capacity and do not address unmet demand as identified in the relevant KISP;
- are not at facilities that offer (or intend to offer) both Three and Four-Year-Old funded Kindergarten programs;
- are located outside Victoria;
- do not align with the program objectives;
- do not meet the requirements outlined in these guidelines;
- do not meet the assessment criteria;
- have already started or been completed (i.e. retrospective funding); or
- are further stages of existing or completed projects.
Your organisation can apply if it is:
- a Victorian local government (Council);
- a not-for-profit community organisation that is a legal entity (for example an incorporated association, incorporated cooperative or Indigenous corporation);
- a Victorian government school; or
- a Victorian non-government school registered with the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority or Catholic Education Commission of Victoria.
For-profit organisations cannot apply for any grant streams within Building Blocks.
For further information regarding grant eligibility, please refer to the Building Blocks Capacity Building Assessment Factsheet below.
Projects on Department of Education land
If you propose a Capacity project on land owned by the Department of Education (DE) you must contact the VSBA Early Childhood Grants team as early as possible during the development of your proposal to discuss the approach to land and project delivery.
Applications for projects on DE land must include:
- a completed ;
- a copy of any existing lease or agreement between relevant parties;
- a detailed design of your proposal; and
- 2 quotes from a qualified professional for projects less than $200,000 or 1 Quantity Surveyor report for projects of $200,000 or more.
A Building Blocks Capacity Building Assessment Factsheet is available below to help you understand the Capacity Building assessment process.
This factsheet explains the type of information you need to include in your application. Please make sure that you refer to this factsheet when preparing your application.
The Minister reserves the right to provide strategic investment to projects. The Minister may also, on advice from the Department, provide funding to partners, in exceptional circumstances to support the provision of funded Three- and Four-Year-Old Kindergarten services across the state.
Merit assessment criteria
Funding recommendations will be based on the extent you can demonstrate that your project addresses the following assessment criteria. These are weighted according to the specified percentages. The weightings align with Building Blocks Capacity Building stream objectives:
- the proposed project supports the integrated delivery of early childhood and related family services and/or the establishment of partnership arrangements with other services (15%);
- improves access to high quality early childhood services for the local community (15%);
- the proposed project is co-located with a government school or supports the establishment of other connections with local schools (15%);
- the proposed project facilitates access for children of all abilities (15%);
- the proposed project promotes environmental sustainability, and includes environmentally sustainable features in design or construction (15%); and
- confirmation the project is ready to commence construction (25%).
These criteria reflect the objectives of Building Blocks Capacity Building stream funding and relate to both the construction of the facility and operation of the service.
Merit assessment criteria (modular applications)
Modular Application merit assessment is streamlined to take into account the fact that Modular building are a templated design delivered by the VSBA. The redistributed weightings also align with Building Blocks Capacity Building stream objectives:
- the proposed project supports the integrated delivery of early childhood and related family services and/or the establishment of partnership arrangements with other services (30%);
- improves access to high quality early childhood services for the local community (30%);
- the proposed project is co-located with a government school or supports the establishment of other connections with local schools (40%)
Organisations that receive a grant must:
- agree to the requirements outlined in these guidelines (failure to do so may result in funding being withheld);
- enter into a formal with the Department;
- where applicable, follow the Building Blocks , including liaising with the Department and holding events on request, such as sod turns and openings, and erecting signage for projects;
- submit an acquittal form and the required supporting evidence for approval by the Department upon completion of the project; and
- agree that no additional Department of Education state funding will be allocated to the proposed project and if additional costs arise, they must be met by the applicant.
To remain eligible for funding, you must not enter into a contract or commence any works proposed in your application before we inform you of the application outcome.
Before submitting your application, we encourage you to review the following documents which further clarify your obligations for receiving Building Blocks funding.
The Betrayal of Trust report found that survivors of institutional child abuse were sometimes unable to identify an appropriate legal entity to sue.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse also recommended that governments consider requiring organisations they fund to be insured against child abuse.
From 1 July 2019, non-government organisations funded by the Victorian Government to deliver services to children will be required, as a condition of funding, to be:
- incorporated separate legal entities that can be sued in their own right in child abuse proceedings; and
- appropriately insured against child abuse.
The new requirements will improve the ability of child abuse survivors to bring a legal claim for compensation and ensure that successful claims can be paid.
Relationship with other funds
There are other grant programs that provide funding for the development of early childhood facilities and services. The Department must be advised of other funding applications for your project. We reserve the right to consider grant applications made for other programs, offered by the Department or other government departments, and to submit Capacity stream applications to other Department agency led grant programs for consideration for funding under those programs where appropriate.
Local Jobs First
The Local Jobs First (LJF) Policy issued under the Local Jobs First Act 2003 supports businesses and workers by ensuring that small and medium size enterprises are given a full and fair opportunity to compete for both large and small government contracts, helping to create job opportunities, including for apprentices, trainees and cadets. The LJF Policy is implemented by Victorian Government departments and agencies to help drive local industry development.
The LJF Policy applies to grant projects where the value of the grant is above the threshold values of:
- $3 million or more in metropolitan Melbourne; and
- $1 million or more in regional Victoria; or
- any grant for a project valued at less than $3 million that the Minister has declared to be a significant project.
Projects funded through Building Blocks Capacity Building stream will have to comply with the Local Jobs First Policy.
Project management requirements
A qualified and experienced project manager must be identified at the time of application and appointed within four weeks of the funding announcement. The name and contact details (email, telephone number, including mobile) of the proposed project manager must be included in the application. The project manager must be appointed before the can be executed.
Project reporting requirements
Note the following does not apply to modular kindergarten grants.
As a condition of grant funding for the Capacity Building stream, successful applicants must comply with project monitoring and reporting requirements, including:
- monthly status reports through an online reporting system to provide an update on progress, updating proposed, forecast and actual dates for project milestones, flagging risks and issues, and providing the required evidence when payment milestones have been met
- advising the Department in advance of key milestones including architect appointment, design completion, sod turn and construction completion and providing opportunities for public communication of these milestones
- advising the Department of scope changes (relating to time, cost and project scope) by completing and submitting a Request for Variation (RFV) form via the online reporting system
- site inspections, meetings, and teleconferences with Department staff or representatives if required, this may include more frequent updates as your project nears completion;
- production of building contracts, receipts and/or invoices when requested; and
- acquittal through an online reporting system.
Acquittal requirements and project variations
All successful applicants are required to upload information into the Department’s reporting system to complete their acquittal.
Recipient organisations must contact the Department immediately if they:
- require a project extension
- propose a change in project scope
- propose a change in project costs which results in either an overspend or underspend.
Applicants will be required to complete a Request for Variation form (submitted through an online reporting system), together with detailed evidence that explains the reason for the variation. The applicant will be asked to allocate any underspend towards additional eligible items in line with the guidelines before an acquittal is accepted. Overspends remain the responsibility of the organisation.
A Soil Hygienist Report is required for any project that disturbs the soil to determine the suitability of the site for the proposed purpose of an early learning centre. It is important that an environmental professional is engaged to provide a Soil Hygienist Report – and not a geotechnical report.
Soil Hygienist Reports must:
- be performed by a qualified environmental professional
- align with standards such as the National Environmental Protection (Assessment of Contaminated Sites) Measure (NEPM)
- involve a desktop review of past site history and soil investigation samples for analysis of contaminants with particular focus on where project soil works are proposed
- compare contamination results against NEPM human health and ecological investigation levels as well as Victoria EPA Industrial Waste thresholds
- include a statement to indicate if the site is suitable for the intended use as an early learning centre and/or potential project risks
- specify if contaminated soil is identified above the levels specified for the intended use as an early learning centre
If contaminated soil is identified above the levels specified for the intended use as an early learning centre, recommendations for a soil management plan must be developed (e.g. for safe management or removal and disposal of the contaminated soil) and provided as part of your grant application. Examples of consultants who specialise in soil hygienist testing and site assessment are listed below:
A Division 6 Asbestos Audit Report is project site specific and is required for any project that involves work to a building where the fabric of the building will be disturbed.
Division 6 Asbestos Audit Reports must:
- be performed by a trained professional such as an Occupational Hygienist
- contain the results of a visual and invasive inspection of a building to monitor and identify Asbestos Containing Material (ACM).
- include the logged results of the asbestos audit in an asbestos register, which is to be updated following all subsequent audit reports and removal works.
If ACM is discovered in a building or site, an asbestos management, removal, and disposal plan. must be developed and provided as part of your grant application. Information and examples of consultants who specilises in asbestos and site assessment, are listed at:
Applications for Building Blocks Capacity Building stream are open all year round, however, applications are batched for assessment several times during the year.
Applicants must complete a free registration to use the Smarty Grants application system. For assistance with the online application system, please email the or call between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday. You can also consult the .
Please think ahead
2 documents that require the most time to secure are the Soil Hygienist Report and the Asbestos Report. It is recommended that applicants obtain these reports or engage these services prior to the commencement of the application process.
Applications for projects on Department land are not required to provide a soil hygienist report. The VSBA will complete this requirement following the submission of your application.
After the closing date
After the closing date for applications has passed, the Department will check to confirm that applications meet the eligibility requirements;
- ensure that all required documentation listed above has been provided;
- assess all eligible applications against the assessment criteria; and
- convene an assessment panel to oversee recommendations and manage any conflicts of interest.
We may also undertake further project cost assessment in instances where project costs are particularly complex, or clarification is required.
Following this process, the Department will provide its recommendation to the Minister for Early Childhood & Pre-Prep for final approval. The Minister reserves the right to provide strategic investment to projects. The Minister may also, on advice from the Department, provide funding to partners, in exceptional circumstances to support the provision of funded Three- and Four-Year-Old Kindergarten services across the state.
We will review your past performance and assess whether it is likely to have an impact on successful delivery of your project. This will include considering whether you have:
- taken appropriate steps to deliver previous projects funded through the Building Blocks program (or previous Children’s Facilities Capital and Inclusive Kindergartens Facilities program) within appropriate timeframes overdue projects funded by the Department and whether extensions have been requested and approved;
- completed projects funded by the Department and whether you have submitted all documentation required to acquit the grant funding, including regular monthly reporting and acquittal within the contracted time frame; and/or
- proposed an operator of the service with a record of delivering a quality kindergarten program, particularly in the same community or area as the project.
Poor performance against these factors may result in projects not being recommended for funding or funding withdrawal.
Review of Application Outcome
If you are unsuccessful in obtaining funding for a Building Blocks Capacity grant you may:
- contact the Early Childhood grants team for feedback on your application and outcome or;
- seek a review into the assessment of your application.
The following links are provided as a starting point for considering best practice approaches to early childhood education and care, accessibility and design. Applicants are encouraged to undertake their own research to identify solutions that will meet their needs.
Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority
Department of Education
The grants offered under the capacity building stream are highly competitive and organisations need to ensure that their applications include clear and convincing supporting documentation to increase the chances of being successful.
All applicants are required to provide:
✓ signed KISP document or Department estimates of unmet demand
✓ considered responses to the selection criteria, that demonstrates how the project will meet these
✓ authorised written confirmation of co-contribution amounts from the applicant and all other funding organisations including contributions from the Federal Government, Victorian Government, local government or other sources
✓ a cost plan prepared by a licensed quantity surveyor (excluding modular kindergarten grants)
✓ a soil assessment report, from a qualified Soil Hygienist. This must include testing for contaminates. Projects on land owned by the Department are not required to provide this. Please refer to the Department’s and information.
✓ professional schematic design drawings (excluding modular kindergarten grants)
✓ a site plan to illustrate which parts of the land or building will be changed by your project
✓ a project plan to support the dates nominated in the application for stages of the project
✓ if your project will directly affect service providers currently operating at the facility or providers of services in the area that would be relocated to the new facility, evidence that you have consulted with these providers such as letters of support or documented outcomes of consultation and engagement.
If you are a not-for-profit or a non-government school, you are also required to provide :
✓ evidence of not-for-profit status (such as a copy of your Australian Business Number, registration as a not-for-profit, certificate of registration as charity, or a certificate of registration as an incorporated association)
✓ a signed certified accountant’s confirmation of the applicant’s last two years financial statements as evidence of financial viability
✓ a letter of support for this project from the CEO of the local government area (or authorised delegate), dated within three months of your application closing date
✓ if an auspice arrangement is proposed, written confirmation from the auspicing party is required.
The type of evidence required depends on who owns the land. Evidence of the following must be provided:
✓ building ownership
✓ authorisation to build on the site
✓ intention to operate a facility for at least 10 years after completing the project
✓ land ownership
- if you own the land, you can provide a copy of the land title, LANDATA documents or council rates notice showing your organisation’s name and the service address.
- if the local government or a third party own the land, you must provide a copy of the title with project address and owners name as well as the current lease with an end date at least 10 years after completing the project.
- If the current lease will end earlier than 10 years from the date that the is signed, the applicant will need to provide a letter from the land owner stating they intend to allow the facility to operate as a kindergarten for at least 10 years after completing the project.
- signed, written approval (on letterhead of the organisation) from the land owner to undertake the works is also required.
- Where the land owner is not the building owner the applicant needs to provide evidence of:
- title of building ownership;
- permission to undertake works; and
- authorisation for the applicant to use the building to operate a kindergarten for 10 years after completing the project.
2023–24 Round 1
2022–23 Round 3
2022–23 Round 2
2022–23 Round 1
2021–22 Round 2B
2021–22 Round 2
2021–22 Round 1
2020–21 Round 2
- Alfred Child Care Centre (withdrawn)
- (formerly Tarneit North Integrated Family Centre)
- KU Heidelberg Children's Centre (withdrawn)
- KU Newport Gardens Children's Centre (withdrawn)
- (formerly Kilmore Family and Children's Centre)
2020–21 Round 1
Reviewed 21 November 2023