Tips to meet Quality Area 7: Governance and leadership
Robust policies and procedures provide guidance and ensure consistency across a range of distinct practices for effective, high quality operations in early childhood services.
26 August 2022
Effective governance and leadership of a service contributes to quality environments for children’s learning and development. Well-documented policies and procedures, well-maintained records, shared values, clear direction and reflective practices enable the service to function as a learning community (Quality Area 7 ). Element 7.1.2 identifies that management systems are in place to manage risk and enable the effective management and operation of a quality service.
This article focuses on how approved providers can ensure all staff are aware of and follow policies and procedures.
Why are policies and procedures important?
Quality service policies identify and mitigate risk for children, staff and families. Policies should demonstrate the guiding principles of a service practice and include procedures which outline practices to be followed.
Policies and procedures support staff to understand their role and responsibilities in the service and lead to more effective, efficient and consistent service practices. Creating opportunities to consult educators in the policy and procedure review process can also contribute to the development of educator knowledge and practice through mentoring or contributions to robust discussions on best practice.
Policies provide information for families to clearly explain how particular situations are handled in the service. For example, if sleeping practices differ between home and the service, the sleep and rest policy should clearly set out procedures based on information from Red Nose (the recognised national authority on safe sleeping practices for infants and children), to support the practices in place at the service. Additionally policies can support service decisions such as incident, injury trauma and illness procedures, as they are based on best practice and guidance from sources such as NHMRC (Staying Healthy).
Policies must be readily available.
Regulation 171 specifies that the policies outlined in Regulation 168 and, in the case of a family day care service, Regulation 169 , must be readily accessible to nominated supervisors and staff members of, volunteers at, and family day care educators engaged by or registered with, the service.
ACECQA has created a set of guidelines for approved providers and their services to navigate the information to ensure compliance with these regulations.
- Where are the service policies currently located?
- Is access available to all persons as outlined in the Regulations?
- Are all policies required by your service type available?
- Are all stakeholders aware of this location?
Developing policies and procedures.
The department engaged Child Australia to provide resources on developing policies and procedures for providers and services. The booklet and video provide information and guidance to support services to develop and update policies and drive continuous quality improvement.
Some tips for providers and their services
- Ensure staff induction includes a review of policy and procedures
- Consider how you can support new educators to observe procedures in practice (for example a nappy change) to encourage consistent practice
- Include a standing agenda item on recurrent staff meetings where a policy or procedure is reviewed and discussed to encourage consistent practice
- Link policies and procedures to the service philosophy where practical
- Policy review is as important as policy implementation. Reviewing promotes consistency and currency of policies and practices.
- Ensure your policies are reflective of your service, including your service name.
- Procedures should be relevant to your service type and unique circumstance. For example, an OSHC services sleep and rest procedure will differ to those found at a long day care. Additionally, emergency and evacuation procedures will look different for a service located in a multi-story building as compared to a service located in a regional or remote area.
Access the department’s website for ‘Sleep and rest for children policy guidelines for ECEC services ’.
Access ACECQA’s website for information sheets on topics which offer practical strategies to support quality practice and the development of service policies and procedures.