Transporting children safely

This page contains current guidance. It will be updated once new National Regulations for centre-based services come into effect from March 1 2023. The new regulations will relate to embarkation and disembarkation of regular transport and notification to the Regulatory Authority when a service provides or ceases to provide regular transport.

For further information, view the new regulations and visit the ACECQA website.

The department has partnered with Kids and Traffic to develop resources to guide and assist NSW services in implementing best practice in the safe transportation of children.

Kids and Traffic is the NSW Early Childhood Road Safety Education Program. It forms part of the statewide road safety education program of Transport for NSW.

The resources will assist you to:

  • improve your understanding of, and compliance with, transport-related regulatory requirements, under both the NQF and NSW legislation
  • drive quality improvement in your service’s transport practices, in line with best practice guidelines
  • make practical improvements to your existing policies, procedures and risk assessments for transportation and excursions involving transport
  • understand where to seek additional information and assistance on transport and road safety.

Written resources

Access the resources below or on the Kids and Traffic’s website.

Practice examples - Videos

In the following videos, three services share some of their practice examples, considerations and reflections relating to the safe transportation of children. Examples include how the services have:

  • responded to changes or challenges in their circumstances relating to transportation
  • involved educators in their continuous quality improvement journey
  • worked in partnership with families, communities and recognised authorities to ensure children’s safety and wellbeing.

It is important to remember that the information contained within these videos are simply examples of practice related to the safe transportation of children as experienced by individual services. Every service is unique, and you will need to refer to your own experience, knowledge, research and consultation to determine the policies and procedures that address the needs of your individual service context and the children under your care. The written resources above are designed as guidance to help develop your understanding of, and compliance with, transportation requirements.

Kids & Traffic can be contacted to support your service in considering the safe practices that may apply in your context.

As you watch these videos, reflect on your service’s policies, procedures and practices – what can you do to improve the safe transportation of children within your service?

Explore & Develop Macquarie Park transports children as part of excursions into their community.

Our service, Explore and Develop Macquarie Park, is an 88 place centre with four rooms catering from zero to five years of age. So, we have a 12-seater bus fitted with child car seats. We take eight children out with two educators into our local community.

[Educator] We believe that children are global citizens so they should be a member of our community and be seen as active citizens. We do acknowledge that for some of our families and children, they might feel a little bit of heightened anxiety around actually going out and about in the community, on our bus and on excursions. So we try to counteract that by working with the families to help the children feel more comfortable. And some of the things we might do is we might take photos of the bus first and send it to the families so when they're at home, they can look at it together and talk about it. We can invite the families in to come in and sit on the bus with the children. From there, we can move on to just taking the child out with the familiar educator, moving on to a full excursion.

When preparing children for excursions, we use a play-based approach. So, we focus on the importance of buckling up safely and holding an adult's hand while we're out and about. We capture children's voices and their experience on our excursions through our documentation process.

[Rey] To my car, I see the bicycle does a stop.

[Andrea] So does that mean the bicycle can go?

When I was going, I saw a bicycle want to.

[Andrea] So can the bicycle go? Or what does it have to do?

Stop.

Stop. Next to the bike, can you see it?

People.

People.

[Andrea] It's a person. What do they have to do?

Stop.

[Andrea] Stop.

[Emma] We have a digital platform where we can share information, photos, and videos with families. They get to see the excursion, and talk about it, and revisit it with their children at home, and maybe share it with other family like grandparents.

Partnerships with families is also part of our philosophy. And we always invite them along on our excursions. We have new parent nights and curriculum evenings which we talk about Beyond the Classroom program there. We talk about what to bring, we talk about where we're going, and we talk about all the different ways they can be involved. Part of working towards quality improvement and around our critical reflection was creating a parent questionnaire. This came about because on an excursion, unexpected things would happen like children not wanting to go down escalators. So we created a questionnaire to give to families and they filled it out beforehand, and that allowed us to then open up discussions with them about how we can help the child feel more comfortable and as well as the families. Obviously, have to take into consideration our regulations. Health and safety is of high importance. We do risk assessments of all our excursions.

Where educators have a really thorough and comprehensive knowledge of the risk assessments.

[Andrea] Annually, we have a staff meeting for our Beyond the Classroom program where we read, review, and discuss the risk assessments and practice different scenario-based questions. We conduct a vehicle safety check before we take the bus with the children off the premises. So, that includes checking things like tires, indicators, lights, and making sure that their seat belts and car seats are all in good working order. We can't plan for everything. So sometimes when the unexpected arises, we need to think dynamically about our risk assessment. We conduct multiple head counts throughout the course of our excursion before leaving the premises, when we come back to the premises, when alighting and disembarking the bus, and when we move from one space to another when we're out and about.

[Emma] Other practices we utilize to ensure children's safety are things like using a step stool for children to alight and disembark the bus. We also have a buddy system where we line the children up in pairs and we ask them to hold their buddy's hand when walking. We always walk with one educator at the front of the line and the other at the back. As an educator, I was quite anxious about driving the bus. It's a huge responsibility driving the bus with a lot of little lives in my hands. We are really lucky as we get to undergo annual training as well as completing a practical driving program in our bus with a qualified professional. And this has really provided me with the skills and confidence when driving the bus with the children. So on our bus, we have 10 car seats and child restraints that are suitable for the children. We've had someone come out to show our educators how to correctly adjust the child restraint. To avoid unnecessary adjustments to the car seats during excursions, we ensure children sit in the same car seat on the journey there and back.

[Educator] Whether it's learning about road safety or getting out and about to explore the community, our excursions and outings with children are a wonderful opportunity for discovery, with so many benefits for everyone.

At Bankstown Family Day Care, some educators transport children to and from school and when going on excursions.

Bankstown Family Day Care has been providing quality home-based childcare in the local Southwestern area of Sydney since 1977. Family Day Care is quite unique compared to other childcare services. We have self-employed educators who are responsible for their day-to-day runnings and routines. We currently have 60 qualified educators. Many of our educators take children out on excursions, some transport children to school both mornings and afternoons. Others often go out to regular playgroup during the week. The safety of all children on these journeys is paramount. As a service, both the coordinators and educators believe that children benefit from having rich and meaningful connections with the wider community.

We believe that going on excursions is a very positive experience for everybody to learn about the community in which we all live.

So the relationships that are built in Family Day Care also foster a great understanding of each child and their own abilities, and also helps with knowing how children will react, anxiety levels, and it assists the educator to remain calm. We work with Kids and Traffic, who provide road safety, education, professional development, and support to our educators. We make that training mandatory to ensure all educators are up with the latest safety advice and strategies. Periodically throughout the year is a focus on road safety in their educational program. That also assists the children in understanding not only while they're going out on routine outings with the educators, but also when they're with their parents.

They can talk about where we are going today, they draw little pictures about it, they tell their parents when they come where they've been and what they did.

Our policy states that they have to do a risk assessment and excursion form prior to going out. With our risk assessment, it covers a lot of areas. They have to actually go and assess the venue for safety. Is there a safe area to enter and exit the vehicle? An area that is safe to park the car? Do they have a car park or is it street parking? Discuss it with a coordinator if there is any issues that arise. We want to have the child's safety first and foremost. All educators are required to purchase brand new products, ensuring that it meets the Australian standards. We also explain that to parents in the interview initially that all our child restraints are approved and checked regularly for wear and tear, and that they are within the 10 year lifespan. Annual restraint checks are carried out by an authorized restraint fitter. The restraint fitter also shows educators how to correctly fit the seat, whether it be a car seat or booster seat, and adjust the seat belts to ensure the safety of all the children. When we do our home safety audits, we ensure that those that are taking the children out in their vehicles are up to date with the procedure, and we go through that with them, actually check the vehicle and make sure that the car seats are fitted properly and that the educator is aware and can talk us through the procedure. When we do our parent interviews, we go through our policies. We make them aware of the regulations and what is required from our policies as well. One of the big things we go through with them is the risk assessment on transport. So all of our policies are updated yearly. We check regulations on a regular basis. And with any changes that are brought to our attention we modify the policy, which is then immediately relayed onto our educators. With changes made to the regulations in regards to requirements for transporting children in educators' cars, we had to review our procedures and risk assessment. It was determined that we needed to add a matrix and risk assess high, medium, or low risks. Coordinators are then responsible for going out to the educators homes, sitting with that educator, and doing a one-on-one review. Coordinators are responsible for ensuring that the educators understand the risk assessment. Collaboration between educators, our coordination unit staff, families, and children, is crucial when educators are transporting and traveling with children. We continuously monitor and keep up to date with the changes to the laws and regulations, and also best practice to ensure children's safety and wellbeing. We want to make sure outings undertaken by our educators, particularly those involving transport, are positive, engaging, and most importantly safe experiences for everyone involved.

Tillys Play & Development Centre OOSH Rutherford transports children in their Tillys buses, servicing five local primary schools.

Tillys Play and Development Centre’s a family owned and operated and located in the hunter valley. We currently have 11 long daycare centres with three out of school care centres. Here at Rutherford, we have our long daycare service, and our OSCH service, our OSCH program caters for 60 children a day. All children are transported in our Tillys buses servicing five local primary schools. Here at Tillys we're both competent and confident within our transportation practices. Our educators recognize that this can be high times of stress and anxiety for families. We use this to help build strong partnerships with families. One of the ways we do this is by giving a courtesy phone call when arriving back at the service, just to let them know their child is safe and sound. And sometimes the children even jump on just to let them know just how exciting the journey back to Tillys was.

What I like about going on a Tillys bus is I like the quiet conversations we can have on the way back to Tillys.

[Child] Oh my god

Transport for us started by taking the children in our car. We didn't have any buses, so it was very different to what it looks like today being at almost full occupancy with five buses in our fleet. So I guess the processes have changed as our enrolments have changed. We've adapted, and I guess as the need for the community changed and our enrolments changed we the opened up, opportunities to go to the five schools and build connections with them and the change which has then led to changes to our risk assessments, numbers of staff we've had to employ procedures for getting the children on and off the buses not in a car. So that's been a journey in itself just by us and a growing in occupancy over the last three years.

The increase in the number of children being transported also increased the risk of a child being overlooked. We reflected on this and made the decision to revise our roll call procedures to ensure there were multiple staff responsible at different points so that the children were safe, supervised and accounted for at all times.

So our overall approach to any kind of documentation including our risk assessments, our procedures and our policies is quite global and holistic. We have to follow regs and laws and legislation that encompasses centre philosophies, our management team on multifaceted levels not just at an area manager level right through to approved provider. the directors of each service, our educators, our schools that we service, our families and our children so that everybody has input into how our procedures work how our policies come into practice and what the risks are for each stakeholder is covered in each of those risk assessments, because they look different.

The safety of transporting children to school is really important to us. From day one, we have used booster seats in our cars, all the buses in transporting the children to school. We are really mindful and ensure that the children remain in a booster seat until they are tall enough not necessarily just by their age. And we feel that the age of seven sometimes isn't enough in just ensuring that they are safely transported to schools. So we embed that into our curriculum as well with the children in teaching them why they need to be in a booster seat. And that can cause tough conversations with some of the children because, you know they like to tell us that they're not in a booster seat in mum or dad's car. We have just, you know, the overall view that they need to stay in that booster seat. And that's just the rules that we have here.

[Lisa] As a service, we looked at our risk assessment and identified strategies to ensure children keep their seat belts on for the whole trip. And also they don't need to create any extra distractions for the driver

While we're on the big bus. We have a supervisor who sits at the back of the bus who ensures that the children are staying quiet as not to distract the driver and that they are keeping their seat belts on and staying safe on the bus.

I like that there's seat belts on the bus because they can protect us.

The safest thing about going on Tillys bus is if we ever have an accident, our seat belts get locked.

[Gillian] In regards to driver distraction. We have a policy put in place that says that we have to use the radio while we are driving the bus just to make sure that we are being the safest and the least distracters as we can be.

We ensure our continuous improvement for all of our transport processes is obviously based upon review and feedback. So we gain feedback in multiple ways. That centre level is probably the biggest way that that feedback comes through. Cause it's coming from daily conversations it comes from our directors having specific meetings with schools, it comes from us having the relationships built and forming them and again, it comes in from us building new relationships and partnerships with people like Kids and Traffic. And then going back and having a look and really reflecting on is what we are doing.

Best practice.

Can we improve on that best practice?

Through a meeting with the principal we discussed our practices at the school and some of the feedback was that it gets quite busy, with a lot of the children meeting at the same place. From that and discussions with the team, we decided to split into two groups with different pickup times based on the age and the needs of the children. This meant the waiting time during the transition from school to Tillys was less, particularly for the younger children. We also improved communication between educators on the school site back to the bus, through introducing walkie talkies which made it a smoother and safer transition for everyone. Obviously it's crucial, we're meeting regulations and laws but we want to go beyond that in our transportation processes to ensure children's safety wellbeing, and overall positive experience. When they're on a Tillys bus.

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