Developing policies and procedures
The department has engaged Child Australia to provide resources on developing policies and procedures for providers and services.
The booklet and video will provide guidance on:
- the requirements for policies and procedures under the National Quality Framework
- the five steps in policy development, with practical ideas to improve your service’s current policy development process
- considerations for your service when developing or updating policies and procedures
- involving children in policy development, including tips for consulting with children
- the outcomes of effective policies and procedures, including driving continuous quality improvement.
- Hi everyone, my name is Hans, one of the consultancy team at Child Australia. Child Australia's been around for over 30 years building the capacity of all professionals working with children. Along with me presenting today is Amanda, a colleague of mine.
- [Amanda] Hello everyone.
- [Hans] Today, we're at talking about, Developing Policies and Procedures. This initiative has been commissioned by the New South Wales Department of Education in it's continuing work to support the education and care sector. They have recognized the guidance needed to ensure the policies and procedures of services are in place and remain up-to date.
- [Amanda] Yes, so this is a video guide that accompanies the booklet. Feel free to download the booklet and follow along while viewing this video. To begin, let's first take a moment to reflect the meaning of place and in doing so recognize the various traditional lands on which we do our work today.
- [Hans] So I'd like to acknowledge that we're recording this session from the lands of the Noongar people. I also acknowledge the traditional custodians of the various lands on which you all work today and pay respect to elders past, and present as well as emerging, and also extend that respect to other Aboriginal people or other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people joining us today. I would like to highlight the wonderful array of resources and news that's available via the New South Wales Department of Education website which you can see on this screen. Specifically, where it supports education and care services. They have a wealth of information from opening a new service, working in early childhood or the latest news for our sector. So make sure to visit the site. I often refer many services I work with to look at their free resources in the ECE Resource Library and from my own work with services in policies and procedures, I have seen that having a planned and scheduled approach, especially in bite-sized pieces is really the key to keeping those policies and procedures updated. The policies then are really useful to assist educators in performing their role with some clarity. It also enables services to better reflect on practices for continuous improvement as they are documented accurately. Families are better informed when these policies are clear. In this video, we'll provide guidance on why policies and procedures are important. And also some definitions. We'll discuss the legislation and minimum requirements for policies and procedures. Then we'll look at the five steps in policy development with practical ideas you could implement in your service. While also we'll talk about how you can involve children in policy development. And lastly, considerations for your service when developing or updating policies and procedures.
- [Amanda] One of the trends seen in this ACECQA snapshot from quarter four 2020, is that Standard 7.1 on Governance and 7.2, Leadership are two of the top areas that services are rated working towards. If we reflect upon the aim of Quality Area 7, Governance and Leadership, it is to support effective leadership and management of the service that contributes to the quality environments for children's learning and development. This includes well-documented policies and procedures to support the provision of quality service delivery. When there's an integrated and planned approach to policies and procedures, there are benefits for your service's self-assessment process and quality improvement plan. Having clear policies and procedures shows your service's commitment to overall quality and practice. In my experience, the most successful journey for services in this work is when the load is shared and when educators and families are involved in the process. The benefits of these include; that ownership is shared, that there are clear understandings of how the service operates and what role each person plays, and there is a much greater sense of collaboration on the tasks at hand and shared learning by all involved.
- [Hans] Ensuring your service is meeting the requirements of the National Quality Framework is the starting point. Policies and procedures support quality practice and help establish your service as a professional and effective organization. Having policies and procedures in place, help detail the important roles families, educators and children play in the service operations. Particularly for educators as they document how an educator performs their role in supporting families and children and guide to their practice. Ensuring new and casual members of staff are familiar with policies and procedures at your service is extremely important. Educators must know where the policies and procedures can be accessed at all times. Policies and procedures also serve as a tool to address the risks identified in service operations. Identifying and considering risks is critical to informing the development of your policies and procedures. Having clearly agreed steps documented in your policies and procedures mitigates these risks. It protects your staff, families, and children. And finally, having clear policies and procedures sets the groundwork for services to better reflect and guide high quality practice as part of their self-assessment and continuous quality improvement processes.
- [Amanda] Let's clarify what is meant by the terms, policy, procedure, and practice. When we talking about a policy, we're referring to the overall approach of the service on a certain topic or area. It outlines the way by which decisions on this practice are made whereas the procedure which can be separated or intertwined with policy outlines the actions, the responsibilities in enacting that policy and the steps required to do so. To help with understanding this, think about a policy on health and hygiene. And in particular, the use of cleaning chemicals in the service. In the policy, we would find the benefits of the service, for instance, a commitment to using natural products or you may be a service on a school site and are supplied with products. In the policy, you will see references to staying healthy and childcare or information from the New South Wales Department of Education that support the policy. In the procedure, we would find actions such as the refilling of cleaning products, the updating of how to handle chemicals safely including storage and disposal, as well as potential health and emergency response measures. When we are talking about the word practice, we're referring to the activities carried out by using both policy and the procedure. As we know, all education and care services must comply with the national law and the national regulations. There is a slight adjustments in each State or territory but here we can see the useful bookmarked online version of the New South Wales version. What I would like to highlight are the legislative policies and procedures that are required at a minimum. These are found in Regulations 168 and Regulation 169 as additional policies and procedures required for family daycare services. Here, we see a list of all the policies and procedures that must be in place. And if this regulation is not met, there is a penalty of $1,000. Reference these regulations in your completed policies and procedures and look at guidance on the regulations to make sure you are compliant. Remember that these are the minimum policies and procedures required under the national regulations. Your service should identify and develop the other policies and procedures you require in your individual context to meet the needs of children, staff, and families. This slide is just to show you a couple of pages we have available to you in the booklet. These pages outline the minimum policies and procedures required by services under Regulation 168 and 169. The content links to the different policies and procedures to the Quality Area and Standards of the National Quality Standard that they support. We won't be going through this now. So please find these pages in the booklet resource. It can be found in the Additional Resources section.
- [Hans] When we develop policies and procedures, it is useful to think about how we can approach it in a way that breaks the process up into a series of steps or bite-sized pieces. This diagram shows a simple five-step process to policy development. Step one, form a policy team. Step two, start with your service philosophy. Step three, draft the policy through collaboration. Four, agree, inform, and implement, and step five, looking at policy currency, monitoring, review and revising. We'll go through an overview of each step in this video but more information and details in each step can be found within the booklet guide. So let's look at the first step of policy development which is forming a policy team. When we collaborate on developing policies and procedures with the service community, we share not only the workload, but we also share the understandings. So forming a policy team or a working group brings more perspectives to this work. This is really important so that the policies and procedures meets the needs of all stakeholders in your service. The benefits are that work of many means greater ownership of the policies. When people are involved in the development of policies, they feel greater ownership, and thus it helps everyone to understand, implement and follow the policies and procedures. Identify those educators who have the experience to know what practices are in place currently. Many families also willing to help and have skills which can be useful to access. Involving families is one way services can support their relationship with families. Accessing their expertise and respecting their input and participation. Taking this collaborative approach in developing policies and procedures will also support the quality practices in Quality Area six.
- [Amanda] This community of families might also interpret the commonly used language of early childhood practices differently to those who work within it. There may be jargon that families don't readily understand. Involving an outside perspective encourages the use of more everyday language that can be understood by a number of different readers including diverse families and communities. Form a policy team of educators and the wider community by thinking about who's involved and having someone lead the work from a project point of view. The lead person should delegate responsibility but retain oversight so progress is ensured and tasks are completed within the set timeframes. This might be a great opportunity for an educator to try their hand at managing a project, with your assistance of course. Leading is not doing, it is keeping the policy team on track to review and update policies and procedures. And finally think about the systems, technology and supports that the policy team might need to be successful. For example, having systems in place to remain informed about legislation changes and updates in a best practice guidance. This may include regularly visiting the department's website and subscribing to their emails and newsletters.
- [Hans] Step two, start with your philosophy. So let's reflect and rethink 'cause step two is about working from a base of understanding which is best reflected in your service philosophy. As it guides all aspects of the service's operations. Policies should be informed by the service's philosophy statement, current research and contemporary views on best practice as well as code of ethics and advice from recognized authorities. A review of your policies and procedures provides the opportunity to reflect and rethink about what we do and why we do it. This provides a frame of reference for policies developed to remain consistent with the beliefs, values, and principles of your service. If the philosophy is not reflective of your service, change it. Having regular reviews of your philosophy assists educators to better understand and articulate what your service stands for and how these values and beliefs might look within your service. This is very important in policy development. So that policies and procedures developed are in line with the service philosophy.
- [Amanda] Step three is to draft the policy through collaboration. In the policy team, pull the thoughts of all involved to develop a document template for the policies and procedures. There are often existing templates or examples you might draw upon. There are some necessary elements recommended such as the title, intent and links to legislation and the National Quality Frameworks but ultimately the format of your policies and procedures is up to you. Policies are most effective if those affected are consulted, are in agreement and have the opportunity to consider and discuss the potential implications of the policy and procedures drafted. Depending on whether you're developing policies and procedures to govern the internal working of your service or external policy positions, you may wish to consult community representatives, staff, students, and volunteers, management committee members or owners, families, and other service users and partnered services such as schools. Policy development provides an opportunity to consult with children, to capture their voice across the service organizations. This assists to support children's agency, learning and development and further support the service's commitment to the quality outcomes for children. In the booklet guide, we have included valuable hints and tips adapted from a resource by Harris and Mannatakis which guide educators on the way we can implement consultations with children and involve children in the discussions. This approach to policy development, shows your service's commitment to critical reflection and can assist in supporting the exceeding themes. We will talk more about this in the later video.
- [Hans] So consider how best to store the policies and procedures. There are Cloud-based policy systems, Cloud-based drives and a whole range of other methods. They don't have to be electronic either, they can be hard copies that you keep on file. Whatever works in your service is what would be most effective. Discuss the different options within the policy team so all perspectives are considered for a successful implementation. And finally, once the policy and procedures are drafted, have them tested out, maybe by the educators to review them, consider the procedures in different situations and provide further feedback. Step four, agree, inform and implement. The fourth step includes agreeing on the final policies and procedures documents and following a services policy endorsement processes to have the documents signed off. And this is going to vary depending on your service's internal requirements, your service type and also your governance structure. For instance, not-for-profits services may need a Management Committee to sign off or a privately-owned service may need the owner to sign off the documents.
- [Amanda] Inform staff, families, and other relevant stakeholders that the review of policies is completed. This may be by sending out an email to all families and staff, as well as posting a copy in the foyer of your service where required information is displayed. Make sure that everyone is aware of where to find and read the policies and procedures. Make sure you update the relevant policies and procedures in your parent handbook, website and anywhere else they may be provided. Finally, provide any training that may be required to ensure staff are aware of and implement the updated policies and procedures, especially regarding changes to their practice. Have clear guidelines for implementing the policies and procedures.
- [Hans] Step five, policy currency, monitor, review, and revise. Now, after implementing your policy and procedures, it's really important to have structures or processes in place to ensure that ongoing monitoring and review happens with these documents. This is critical to ensuring that your policies and procedures remain current, are reflective of your service, and underpin good quality practice. We have some guidance and tips to help with in step five within your guide. And we'll talk about them now. One, set a date on your service's calendar or planner for any review, or even bi-annual review of your policies and procedures. Your service might set up electronic calendars to have recurring dates to review the policies. Two, keep informed by subscribing to the ACECQA newsletter, as well as the subscribing to announcements, newsletters, and also emails from the New South Wales Regulatory Authority and other relevant recognized authorities. Three, discuss policy revision annually with your line manager, owner, or management committee.
- [Amanda] Four, plan policy decisions with your regular team meeting agenda. Your team could review a different policy at each meeting. Five, develop a policy issues log to track issues or events that necessitate updates to your policies and procedures. Consider this a step within your handling of incidents. Events which might trigger a new review or changes in legislation or a serious incident at the service. Additionally, while updating your QIP, or self-assessment information, we always recommend that services ensure related policies and procedures are also reviewed. Six, develop a review schedule, prioritized by how often the content is expected to need updating. Seven, develop a process to update and record changes. For example, version control and issues log. Your service could have Cloud storage solutions on the internet to store documents so that they do not get lost. The important thing in step five is to ensure that there is a sustainable, robust process in the service to keep on top of it all.
- [Hans] Now that we've covered the five steps to policy development, we're going to provide some more guidance on consulting with children. "Children are important. "They bring their own value "and influence to the world "as well as being shaped by the world around them. "Children are also important for their future contribution "to society as the next generation of leaders, "workers, parents, consumers "and members of community in a global society." And that quotes by COAG in the National Early Childhood Development Document, 2009. Involving children in responsive relationships, strengthens children's belonging, being and becoming as active contributors to the world. We can recognize children as competent and capable by supporting them to contribute to decisions that affect their lives. Now, policy development actually provides that opportunity to consult with children, to capture their voices across service operations. Now we've developed guidance in the booklet and it's adapted from a resource by Harris and Mannatakis on the ways educators can implement consultations with children. And this extends to even your own pedagogical practices as well how to consult with children, not just the policies.
- [Amanda] We will use the Health and Hygiene Policy as an example of how we can do this. And we'll focus on the hand washing for this example.
- [Hans] So this screenshot here you can see is a snippet of the Useful Hints for Implementing Children Consultations guidance you can find in the booklet. Though, we won't be going through all the guidance right now in this video, please refer back to these pages in the resource and go through the full information at your own pace. It can be found in the Additional Resources section. These hints and tips are really useful in engaging and capturing children's perspectives and voices. Children might bring in new ideas adults have not even considered. Harris and Mannatakis suggest to frame questions as themes to explore and also to break down themes into more specific elements to focus on with children. We also have to remember that the goal when involving children in policy development is to capture the thinking and perspectives that they can provide which can challenge the adult assumed ways of thinking. This acknowledges children's agency and right to contribute to matters that affect them. Involving children also benefits the child by enhancing their inclusion, learning and wellbeing, and strengthening their interests and skills as active contributors to their community.
- [Amanda] So thinking back to the hand washing example, as part of the service's Health and Hygiene Policy, involving children could be as simple as asking questions like, "How do we know when to wash our hands? "How do you remember to wash your hands correctly? "What can we do to help everyone wash their hands properly?" Another piece of guidance you can read in the booklet is to take the time to delve deeper into understanding the real meaning behind what children are expressing. For instance, you may choose to involve children by setting up the opportunities to do a science experiment about hand-washing. As an educator, you can use this activity to have further dialogue to understand what children are thinking. These conversations are extremely valuable to improve our reflection on policies. When we authentically involve children, it is important to provide feedback to children on how important their input has been used. We want children to know they are respected and their views are important and valued. We recommend that you access the full guidance in this booklet after the video and share these hints and tips with your team as strategies to promoting children and their agency, strengthening interactions with children and building meaningful relationships with them.
- [Hans] To conclude, as you go through the five steps of policy development, there are several considerations to keep in mind. These include your context, consider your service type, the profile and needs of children, families and the community, the strategic direction and future plans of your service, as well as your business structure to work out who signs policies off. The legal requirements under the National Quality Framework. Make sure you check the minimum policies and procedures required for your service type against your current documents. To check the requirements, use current information from the ACECQA website Resources section and a useful hint would be to look at the guide to the National Quality Framework. Remember, these are only the minimum policies and procedures required under the National Quality Framework, national law and national regulations. You should consider whether you need additional policies and procedures to meet the needs of children, staff, families, and communities specific to your service's individual circumstances. You may also need other policies of a general business nature such as recruitment of educators, how performance appraisal is conducted and even the use of mobile phones. And these policies are not legislated under the National Quality Framework. Next, the continued relevance of your service philosophy. A review of your service philosophy is an essential starting point to ensure that it accurately represents what your service stands for. When considering stakeholder engagement in the policy development process, consider who has the additional skills or experience with policy development? Who needs to be involved and how will they be engaged in the process? Your stakeholders will include all educators, directors, coordinators, managing committees, children, families, as well as other community members. Are there any other stakeholders that could assist you to develop robust, effective and quality policies and procedures?
- [Amanda] It is also useful to look at how your service approaches equity and inclusion as well as its approach to working with children and families. Consider whether your policies and procedures reflect these practices and beliefs. Do they show how educators beliefs are linked to practice? Do your policies and procedures reflect contemporary best practice principles, current research and learning frameworks? Importantly, does your service have systems and processes in place to keep informed?
- [Hans] Audience, finally consider the audience who will be reading your policies and procedures. When writing these documents, take note of the language and the terms you use and the complexity of construction. Consider also the tone of writing, which conveys the attitude of the writer to the topic and the prior knowledge of the reader. Are your policy documents accessible to a range of audiences without too many unknown terms and concepts related to the topic?
- [Amanda] That concludes this video on Developing Policies and Procedures, an Educators Guide. We appreciate you taking the time to join us. Make sure to download the booklet as it has even more guidance and detail for you to go through at your own pace. This includes a section of samples and additional resources. Remember, being prepared and setting up a process and systems, as we have talked about, will help you to develop clear and effective policies and procedures. Thanks Hans, for your part in this recording. And again, thanks to the New South Wales Department of Education for making this possible and providing resources to assist education and care services to effectively develop policies and procedures.