Amendment of the Children (Education and Care Services) Supplementary Provisions Act 2011
The Children Supplementary Provisions Act 2011 is being updated in 2018 to bring standards into line with the National Law.
The Children (Education and Care Services) Supplementary Provisions Act 2011 is being updated in 2018 to bring standards into line with those for services regulated under the National Law.
Services types regulated under the Supplementary Provisions Act include home-based care, occasional care, mobile services and centre-based services in shopping centres.
The major changes include:
- discontinuation of home-based care and shopping centre care as approved categories under the Act
- introduction of the requirement for occasional care and mobile services to participate in quality assessment and rating.
Legislation for the changes will be introduced into parliament in early 2018.
Subject to parliamentary approval, the department will discontinue all new home-based care approvals once the changes are passed. Home-based care services will have a 12 month adjustment period. Services may choose to transition and gain approval as a family day care provider or register with an existing family day care service in order to continue operating.
While children can continue to enrol in and attend home-based care during the 12 month adjustment period, no new home-based care service approvals will be granted.
Background for the amendments
The amendments are designed to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of children and to ensure the delivery of high quality early childhood education services.
The new regulations are in accordance with the obligations of the Department of Education as the NSW regulatory authority.
The changes are being made to bring the regulatory standards and requirements for services regulated under the Act into line with those regulated under the national system. The National Quality Framework (NQF) has been progressively updated since 2012 and has established a strong track record in promoting quality.
Home-based and shopping centre care
While home-based care has worked well for the families using it, the difference between this type of care and family day care, which is regulated under the National Law, has narrowed over time. There is no longer any practical difference between the two types - especially from a parent's perspective. With the steady rise in standards for family day care since the introduction of the National Law in 2012, all education and care provided in the home in NSW must be assessed in accordance with the same high standards.
Shopping centre care
Approval for care in shopping centres was introduced in 2011 to cater for an expected increase in applications for services in these settings, but the uptake has been very low. Applicants have instead sought approval as centre-based service providers under the National Law, which has the flexibility sufficient to address any issues that may apply to services at these locations.
The department will now regulate all these services under the same regulatory framework to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of children and to ensure the delivery of high quality early childhood education services.
Timeline of changes
Subject to parliamentary approval, the department is planning for the changes to be enacted early in 2018.
To allow home-based care providers time to adjust, however, their approvals will be maintained for twelve months after the changes are passed. This will give them time to apply for approval as family day care services if they choose. However, no new home-based care applications will be considered once the changes are passed.
Mobiles and occasional care services
Mobile services provide early learning opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable to families with young children who live in very remote and isolated parts of the state. Their business model - which can involve operating from a number of different locations each week – is unique and requires a distinctive regulatory approach.
Similarly, occasional care is based on a distinctive operating model that cannot be readily accommodated within the national system. Occasional care services provide an option for parents who may need incidental short term care for their children – typically in unexpected, one-off or emergency situations. Large parts of the National Law are based on the assumption that children will attend a service on a regular basis, over a sustained period.
Mobile and occasional care services that are funded by the Australian Government are already required to have a Quality Improvement Plan. By aligning the State Law to the National Law, all services in NSW will be required to prepare a Quality Improvement Plan. Participation in assessment and rating will not come into force for twelve months after the changes are passed. This is to allow services time to take stock of their practices and to make any adjustments before they begin the process.
Commonwealth, State and Territory governments have agreed that the national system will continue to focus on the types of services that are relevant to the majority of working families – family day care, long day care and out of school hours care – and that States and Territories should continue to have the option of recognising and regulating other types of services that respond to a particular need in their jurisdiction.
Ongoing regulation under the Supplementary Provisions Act remains the best option for these service types.
Mobiles and occasional care services will be required to participate in Assessment and Rating on the same basis as services regulated under the National Law.
The process involves each service preparing and implementing a Quality Improvement Plan, with the claims in the Plan and its outcomes assessed by the regulator against a set of benchmarks known as the National Quality Standard. The process is designed to encourage a continuing focus on best practice and leads to an overall quality-rating for the service at one of five levels.
More information about the quality rating process and the rating standards is available from the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority.
Support and advice for services
During the 12 month adjustment period after the changes are made, the regulator will work with services and their representative organisations as needed to identify any issues and to ensure smooth and successful implementation. The Early Childhood Education Directorate's field staff will also be available to advise individual services on the requirements of the assessment and rating process.
Comment on the changes
The consultation period for feedback on the changes closed on 31 October 2017.