Get to know your AOs: Robert Barbara

Robert Barbara, Authorised Officer from the Quality Support Team, shares how services are setting up safe sleep environments and how they are reflecting on their practices to ensure children are safe while sleeping.

What is your position and where are you based?

I am a Senior Field Officer in the Quality Support Team and am currently based remotely with access to offices across NSW.

What is one piece of advice you tend to give a lot of services?

Depends on the context, if it relates to Assessment and Rating I usually advise all services to showcase their practices and involve all stakeholders, such as children, families, staff and community by providing opportunities for their voices to be heard in their self-assessment journey. I remind the service to periodically check in with the Authorised Officer (AO) if they require any further information or to discuss if further evidence can be provided through the assessment methodologies of observe, sight and discuss. Further, I always reiterate that it is a collaborative process and the service and Regulatory Authority are both here to work together for the best outcomes for children, families and other stakeholders.

How have you seen services effectively manage the different sleep/rest needs of each child simultaneously?

I have seen services continuously collect the sleep/rest needs of children from families that reflect their home and cultural routines and practices through ongoing conversations, written documentation and electronic platforms. But is important to note that if families make requests that are contrary to best practice and increase risk to children they need to refer to service’s policies and procedures or contact Red Nose for advice.

I have also seen services utilise a continuity of care approach as part of the attachment theory where educators are responsible for individual younger children’s sleep/rest needs and with older children, promoting agency by giving them choices about their sleep/rest needs.

What are some best practice examples of how services are setting up safe sleep environments for children?

Some best practice examples include:

  • Ensuring sleep and rest policies and procedures are regularly updated in consultation with children and families.
  • Detailing what procedures educators must follow when conducting physical checks of sleeping children.
  • Referencing Red Nose recommendations and ACECQA in relation to safe sleep environments and equipment such as safe cots and safe bedding that are compliant with Australian Standards.
  • Ensuring the sleep/rest environment and sleep equipment is kept safe and fit for purpose, such as temperature control and is appropriate for the age groups.
  • Addressing any hazards, such as:
    • cords and blinds
    • hygiene
    • health and safety implications, such as the cleaning process of cots, beds and linen.

How are services reflecting on their safe sleep practices to ensure they are providing safe environments for children?

Services are reflecting on:

  • Family and cultural needs and what they can do if and when these family practices differ from Red Nose recommendations.
  • The current best practice guidance, correct legislative requirements informed by recognised authorities and up-to-date information.
  • Relevancy to service context, including service type.
  • Clearly defined and designated roles and responsibilities and expectations in relation to how sleep and rest will be managed.
  • How policy and procedures will be implemented, made available to educators and staff and how ongoing monitoring and reviewing of the policy and procedures will occur.
  • Inductions and ongoing training for staff on how regular sleep/rest information is shared and can assist staff (including relief and casual educators and family day care educator assistants).
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