Approvals process

The approvals assessment process helps ensure all applicants, prior to approval, understand their responsibilities under Laws and Regulations. This page has information for early childhood education and outside school hours care services and providers on gaining approvals and notifying the department.

Application guides

Application for Service Approval - Centre-Based - Application Guide (PDF 505.34KB)

Application for Provider Approval - Application Guide (PDF 180.35KB)

BASC - Existing Services Application Guide (PDF 570.19KB)

Operating single educator model services in OSHC

In addition to all requirements under the National Law and Regulations, out of school hours care (OSHC) services must address certain considerations (PDF, 38KB) when operating a service using only one educator with children.

Application process for providers and services

As the regulatory authority for NSW, the department is responsible for assessing anyone who is seeking to own and/or operate early childhood education and care services in NSW. The assessment and approvals procedures are in place to:

  • ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of children attending education and care services
  • ensure all approved providers and services understand their responsibilities under the relevant legislation and
  • promote continuous improvement in the provision of quality education and care services.

As an applicant to become an approved provider or operate a service in NSW, you must satisfy the department that you are a fit and proper person and can demonstrate the requisite level of knowledge and understanding of your responsibilities under the relevant legislation.

In assessing an application, the department looks at a range of factors and pieces of information to make an informed assessment. This can include:

  • your compliance history with any current or previous legislation if you are an existing provider or held an approval under previous legislation
  • any relevant service rating
  • results from your National Criminal Records Check and Working With Children Check
  • documents you have provided as part of your application, and
  • any further information reasonably required to make an assessment.

Part of this process may include attendance at a knowledge assessment session, and/or an interview with departmental staff.

National Law online knowledge assessment session

ACECQA has announced from March 2022, state and territory regulatory authorities will have a nationally consistent and rigorous way of requiring applicants to complete an assessment. The NSW Department of Education will require applicants to complete the new online multiple-choice assessment which will include a range of questions about the National Law and National Regulations, and the responsibilities and obligations of an approved provider.

The purpose of this change is to promote the safety, health and wellbeing of children, and improve children’s educational outcomes when they attend an education and care service.

The new online assessment will also streamline applications through the use of new technologies.

This change will apply to prospective new service providers seeking an approval or existing providers applying to expand. Services will be informed upon application if they need to complete the assessment, in which case specific instructions will be provided.

More information

Read ACECQA’s newsletter.

Where an applicant is assessed as low risk, they will not usually be required to attend an online knowledge assessment session. The department will assess each application based on all the information provided and through other channels available to us.

As part of our risk-based approach, the department may use other activities as part of the approvals process for low risk applicants. These activities may include providing educational material or training, an interview with departmental staff, or a requirement to attend an online assessment session based on random sampling of low-risk applicants.

Where an applicant is assessed as presenting a medium or higher risk, they may be required to attend an online knowledge assessment session.

This may apply to all applicants wishing to seek approval to become a new provider, establish a new service, or provide notification of an approved service transfer, or changes of persons with management or control.

The department will inform applicants regarding who from your company, board, or committee will need to attend an online knowledge assessment session. This will be determined based on several factors:

  • your overall risk profile (general and specific risk)
  • the roles and responsibilities of individuals
  • the application or notification type you have submitted (e.g. new provider, new service, transfer of an existing service, or change of persons with management or control)
  • the size of your company, board or committee, and
  • any other information deemed relevant.

In certain circumstances this may mean all persons with management or control associated with your application will need to attend the online knowledge assessment session.

Persons with management or control include board members, committee members, company directors and officeholders, members of partnerships, sole proprietors, and executives of incorporated entities.

Steps in the online assessment session

Once an applicant is invited to attend an online assessment you must confirm attendance by the due date or risk having the application or notification invalidated and closed.

Applicants are required to demonstrate the requisite level of knowledge and understanding of their responsibilities under the legislation during the assessment.

Statutory Timeframes as outlined under the relevant legislation don't apply until the outcome of the assessment has been determined and the application validated.

Requirements for the National Law online knowledge assessment session

Once you have been invited to attend an online assessment session, you must confirm your attendance by the due date on the invitation or you will risk having your application/notification invalidated and closed.

The assessment consists of randomised multiple choice questions.

The assessment is open book, and participants can access the National Law and National Regulations, and ACECQA's Guide to the National Quality Framework via PDF on the online assessment platform.

The assessment questions are derived directly from the National Law and National Regulations. ACECQA's Guide to the National Quality Framework is intended to be used as a guide only.

The statutory timeframes, as outlined under the relevant legislation, do not apply until the outcome of the online assessment has been determined and the application has been validated.

The sessions are primarily held in Parramatta. However, the department will continue to work with the sector to provide flexible options, in particular for small, remote and community-run services.

Assessment of your application

The department uses an objective approach when making an assessment on an application and the online knowledge assessment is only one component of the overall approval process. Your assessment outcome will be considered along with other relevant information, which may include your compliance history with the National Law and National Regulations, Supplementary Provisions, and previous laws pertaining to children's services, any relevant service rating, and checks made with other government agencies.

You may subsequently be asked to attend an interview with departmental staff to discuss your understanding of your obligations under the National Law and National Regulations or Supplementary Provisions, including your current compliance with these pieces of legislation.

Applicants may also be asked to undertake child protection training and provide evidence to the department of completion.

These requirements are determined through a risk-based approach. The department will advise you if you are required to complete the training or attend an interview.

The department will continue to work with the early childhood education sector on how best to support all applicants to participate in the process.

Applications for new provider approvals and new service approvals, notifications of transfers of existing services, and changes to persons with management or control are all assessed in this way.

In assessing an application, the department looks at a range of factors and pieces of information to make an informed assessment. This can include:

  • your compliance history if you are an existing provider
  • any relevant service rating
  • results from your National Criminal Records Check and Working With Children Check
  • documents you have provided as part of your application
  • outcomes of any assessment, child protection training or interview you have completed, and
  • any further information reasonably required to make an assessment

If your application is refused, you will be provided with an explanation of the department's decision. This will include details on the reasons as to why you have not demonstrated the requisite level of understanding of your requirements under the National Law and National Regulations, or Supplementary Provisions.

Also, if your application is refused, you will be provided with information on how to appeal if you wish to do so.

For more information, call the Information and Enquiries Team on 1800 619 113.

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