National Quality Framework Review

Information on the National Quality Framework (NQF) Review including how the early childhood education and care sector can take part.

Overview

The National Quality Framework (NQF) is an important national framework which focuses on quality children’s education and care in Australia. The NQF started a decade ago, with over one million children currently attending education and care services across Australia.

The 2019 National Quality Framework (NQF) Review aims to ensure that the NQF is current, fit-for-purpose and implemented through best practice regulation.

Governments have used stakeholder feedback on the Issues Paper released in 2019 to develop a Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (CRIS). The CRIS proposes a number of possible options for regulatory change to the NQF. Read the CRIS.

Options presented in the CRIS are not final, instead they provide a range of possible solutions, to generate discussion on the likely impacts of change. We want to hear your feedback on these options or new options that you think would resolve the issues.

Feedback on the CRIS will be used to develop a Decision Regulation Impact Statement (DRIS), which will assist governments in selecting the most appropriate solutions for implementation in 2022.

Since the NQF Review will result in changes to the NQF that will impact the education and care sector, it is important that stakeholders are given opportunities to provide feedback on the issues under review. As the education and care sector continues to evolve and continuously improve, it is also appropriate that stakeholders have a forum to bring important issues to the attention of policymakers.

Information sessions and recordings

Each state and territory has held or is holding Information Sessions to help stakeholders understand the issues and impact of the options.

The NSW Department of Education held Information Sessions on the CRIS online, on 15-25 March.

Recordings are available below.

Children’s Safety, Health and Wellbeing

This video explores the following CRIS issues:
  • Safety of children during transitions between services (including school)
  • Sleep and rest requirements
  • Improving children’s safety during regular transportation
  • Improving children’s safety during emergency evacuations from multistorey
  • Embedding the National Child Safe Principles
  • Updating record keeping requirements
Children’s Safety, Health and Wellbeing

Safety, Health and Wellbeing

Two of the objectives of the NQF are to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of children, and to improve the educational and developmental outcomes for children attending education and care services. This chapter proposes options in relation to transition of children between services, sleep and rest, regular transportation and emergency and evacuation from multistorey buildings.

Safety of children during transitions between services

Children often transition from one education and care service or educational setting (such as a school) to another. This is especially common between school and OSHC services.

There is an identified gap regarding duty of care for children during transition periods between schools and OSHC services.

It isn’t always clear whether the school or the early childhood service has a duty of care for children during transitions, which may put children at risk.

There are five options presented to address this issue in the CRIS.

These options are not mutually exclusive, and can be implemented together.

Option A is for no change, this means everything remains the same as it is today.

The benefits are:

·       Business as usual.

The negative impacts are:

·       Gap in knowledge about who holds the duty of care for children during transitions (either the school or the ECEC service).

·       Further incidents may occur which can impact on the emotional and physical wellbeing of children, families and service staff involved in the incident.

·       Incidents may also have a negative financial or operational impact on the OSHC service and potentially increase risks to other children, as workforce may be temporarily reallocated, or the session cancelled, to search for the child and complete incident reporting. Incidents may also result in reputational damage to the service, resulting in reduced enrolments in the service and potential prosecution.

·       Investigations into incidents may place burden on the service.

Option B proposes legislative change that would require services to supervise the transition period to or from the education and care service, such as an OSHC service.

The benefits are:

·       The service provider would be explicitly responsible for supervising children during transitions.

The negative impacts are:

·       Additional costs to the service provider for employing additional staff. This may flow on to families.

·       Workforce shortages continue, especially in rural, regional and remote (RRR) areas.

Option C proposes referring the option to state and territory school authorities for consideration, encouraging schools to give greater consideration to their role in the transition period to or from the education and care service. Collaboration between schools and education and care services would be encouraged to adequately address the gap in responsibility between the two settings.

The benefits are:

·       Improved collaboration between schools and ECEC services.

·       Schools can implement policies that best suit their operating context.

The negative impacts are:

·       Schools may need to dedicate staff to supervising children during transitions.

·       Ambiguity may remain, particularly for children attending education and care services outside of school grounds.

·       There may be variation in how schools implement these policies, with limited oversight over non-government or independent schools.

Option D proposes legislative change requiring services to develop a policy and procedures, including a risk assessment, specifically for this transition period.

The benefits are:

·       Services would have better awareness of how to safely manage transitions.

·       Risk assessments for the transition period would likely reduce the number of children missing or unaccounted for.

The negative impacts are:

·       There may be some cost to providers for developing these policies and procedures, as well as ensuring staff understand and implement these policies and procedures.

Option E would not mandate the development of policies and procedures, rather this option would provide services with guidance and support in putting in place effective policies and procedures to manage transitions.

The benefits are:

·       Improve support for service providers to manage transitions.

·       It may reduce the number of incorrectly reported incidents when a child is simply at home.

The negative impacts are:

·       This option will not be a requirement, so some services may not implement policies and procedures to improve safety during transitions, leaving children at risk.

When considering the issue and the proposed options, some questions to think about include:

·       What are the benefits and negative impacts for you?

·       Who should hold the responsibility for duty of care for children during transition periods between school and education and care services?

·       To what extent are children ‘at risk’ during this period?

·       How is this risk currently managed in practice?

·       How can this risk be further reduced?

Sleep and rest requirements

The NQF requires services to take reasonable steps to ensure children’s sleep and rest needs are met, having regard to the ages, development stages and individual needs of children.

In NSW a number of serious incidents have occurred during periods of sleep and rest in education and care services.

Despite the reduction in Sudden Unexpected Death in Infants (SUDI) deaths in recent decades, young children remain at risk of SUDI during periods of sleep and rest, including in education and care services.

There continues to be SUDI deaths in Australia each year, and lack of awareness and knowledge about safe sleeping still exists in many communities.

According to Red Nose, Australia’s leading authority on safe sleep advice, safe sleeping messages have been less successful reaching people in Indigenous, rural and remote, culturally and linguistically diverse communities. The rate of SUDI for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies is three times the non-Indigenous rate.

Providing appropriate support for quality sleep and rest practices continues to be a high priority for the NSW Department of Education. The Department has previously partnered with Red Nose Australia to deliver safe sleep training to the sector. This training and other resources are available on the Department’s website.

Further training is available in 2021 through the Department’s Sector Development Program, which will aim to further reduce the risk to children by building the capacity of educators about safe sleep and rest practices.

This includes guidance on safe sleep and rest policies and procedures, implementing safe sleep and rest practices in services, assessing risk, and the environments and equipment used in sleep and rest. This training will be free for services.

Returning to the CRIS, six options are presented to address the issue of sleep and rest.  

These options are not mutually exclusive, and can be implemented together.

Option A is for no change.

The benefits are:

·       Business as usual.

The negative impacts are:

·       Risk of SUDI due to providers not following safe sleep guidelines.

Option B proposes legislative change to require compulsory safe sleep practices training for all educators who care for sleeping children (birth to five years). This option would require Approved Providers to facilitate recognised training in safe sleep practices for all educators.

The benefits are:

·       Improved understanding of safe sleeping best practice and improved compliance.

·       Reduced risk of SUDI.

The negative impacts are:

·       Increase cost to providers for training educators.

·       And increased costs may flow on to families.

Option C proposes further guidance be developed to provide information and resources to help services improve policies and procedures and provide safe sleeping information to families.

The benefits are:

·       Improved staff understanding of safe sleeping best practice and improved compliance.

·       And reduced risk of SUDI.

The negative impacts are:

·       It would not be mandatory for the guidance to be followed and so the risk of SUDI may still continue.

Option D proposes legislative change to require that services have in place a policy and procedures for sleep and rest by specifying the content that must be considered in the development of policy and procedures.

Option E proposes legislative change to require services to conduct a risk assessment, identifying specific matters to be considered.

This might include, for example, how adequate supervision is ensured, the use of technology (such as CCTV) for supervision, physical checks and physical presence. 

The benefits are, for options D&E:

·       Improved staff understanding of safe sleeping best practice and improved compliance.

·       Services must have policies and procedures or a risk assessment process in place to improve safe sleeping practice, adequate supervision, and protection from harm and hazard during sleep.

·       Likely to reduce the risk of SUDI.

The negative impacts are, for options D&E:

·       Increased administrative costs for services in order to develop or amend their sleep and rest policies and procedures and/or risk assessment process.

·       Increase costs for training staff.

·       There may be increased costs associated with complying with these policies and procedures and/or risk assessment process. This may include the cost of increased supervision, which will vary for different services.

Option F proposes legislative change to require that sleeping and resting children in education and care services are within sight and hearing distance of an educator at all times.

This option aligns with evidence-based guidance provided by Red Nose, the recognised national authority on safe sleeping practices for infants and children, that advises that sleeping children should always be in sight and hearing distance of a qualified staff member, and that monitoring of sleeping children is done physically at the bedside, rather than through a monitor or viewing window. These allow staff to check on children’s breathing and the colour of their skin and intervene if something goes wrong.

The benefits are:

·       Ensures risk reduction and aligns with Red Nose safe sleeping guidance, which suggests checking on children’s breathing and the colour of their skin to intervene immediately if something goes wrong.

·       Likely to reduce the risk of SUDI.

The negative impacts are:

·       While some services may already follow this guidance, others may incur staffing costs to ensure children are always within sight and hearing distance of an educator.

When considering the issue and the proposed options, some questions to think about include:

·       What are the benefits and negative impacts?

·       To what extent will the proposed options reduce the risks to children?

·       What practical measures can services implement to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of children during periods of sleep and rest?

·       How should these options be considered in the context of overnight care?

Improving children’s safety during regular transportation

Transportation can present heightened risks to children’s safety, especially during the periods of transition between a vehicle and an education and care service premises. Risks are greater for very young children.

It is not clear how educator to child ratios should apply when transporting children, and whether the driver can be included.

This ambiguity may mean that children are not properly supervised while being transported by the service.

The consequences of leaving children unsupervised on transportation, particularly on hot days, can be fatal. There have been a number of fatalities relating to transportation during education and care in recent years.

The current NSW position on this issue requires educator to child ratios to be met when children are being transported as part of the service activity. The driver is not counted in ratios for the period of the transportation because they are not working directly with children, and as such do not meet the requirement of Regulation 122. Further, Approved Providers and supervisors need to ensure there is adequate supervision when children are being transported. Simply meeting the ratio requirements may not always mean there is adequate supervision.

Six options are presented to address this issue in the CRIS.

These options are not mutually exclusive, and can be implemented together.

Option A is for no change.

The benefits are:

·       Business as usual.

The negative impacts are:

·       Providers may be uncertain about requirement for transportation, which may result in children not being properly supervised.

Option B proposes legislative change to specify the transport ratio requirements services must adhere to when regularly transporting children. These ratios would allow the driver to be counted in the ratio calculation.

The benefits are:

·       When transporting larger groups of children, additional staff may reduce the risk of children being missing or unaccounted for during transportation.

·       There is flexibility for Family Day Care and smaller providers transporting a smaller number of children.

The negative impacts are:

·       There would be costs to providers for hiring additional staff where required.

·       Increased costs would likely result in fee increases.

·       Services may stop providing transportation due to higher costs which may reduce access to education and care for families who rely on transportation.

Option C proposes legislative change that would exempt services predominantly caring for school aged children from adhering to ratio requirements during periods of regular transportation.

This option considers the different levels of risk in the case of school age children as compared to children under school age. Despite this exemption, Approved Providers would still be required to consider factors that would pose a risk to children and ensure the adequate supervision of children and protection from harm and hazard at all times.

The benefits are:

·       Clarification for providers.

·       Accounts for the different needs and risks for children at school age.

There are no significant negative impacts.

Improving children’s safety during regular transportation (continued)

Option D proposes legislative change that would require a staff member to supervise the embarking and disembarking of children at the service premises. This staff member must not be the driver of the vehicle.

The benefits are:

·       Increases children’s safety when leaving and arriving at the service and reduces the likelihood of a child left on the vehicle.

The negative impacts are:

·       There would be costs to providers for hiring additional staff members where required.

·       Increased costs would likely result in fee increases.

·       Services may stop providing transportation due to higher costs which may reduce access to education and care for families who rely on transportation.

Option E proposes legislative change to require the Approved Provider to ensure that the driver of the vehicle who is not a member of staff holds a current and relevant approved qualifications, such as first aid, anaphylaxis and asthma. 

The benefits are:

·       Whoever is supervising children during transportation must hold basic qualifications to respond in an emergency. This would likely improve the response to an emergency situation.

The negative impacts are:

·       There may be some costs for drivers and/or services to ensure they have relevant qualifications.

Option F proposes the development of further guidance to support services in managing the risks presented by periods of transportation, without specifying additional requirements as part of the National Regulations.

This option acknowledges that there are various transport scenarios that may arise for a service and that the strategy employed to manage the risks associated are particular to the circumstances at the time.

The benefits are:

·       Help to mitigate risk during transportation.

·       Provide flexibility for service providers to tailor their policies and procedures.

The negative impacts are:

·       Costs to governments for developing guidance materials.

When considering this issue and the proposed options, some questions to think about include:

·       What are the benefits and negative impacts of the options?

·       What is the extent of the problem relating to the safety of children being transported by a service?

·       What are the likely impacts to services, families and staff members if the proposed options were to be adopted?

·       What administrative burden is associated with the proposed options?

·       Should limitations be placed on a service’s ability to transport children, and if so what limitations should apply?

·       Should the driver of the vehicle be expected to supervise children in addition to the responsibility of driving the vehicle?

·       Should staff involved in transportation hold any particular qualifications?

·       How can the risk of children being left unattended in vehicles be reduced?

Improving children’s safety during emergency evacuations from multistory buildings

Young children, non-ambulatory children and infants take longer to evacuate buildings than adults, with more prior planning as to how to evacuate needed.

The spread of fire from floors below presents increased risks for services located above ground level.

There are an increasing number of multistorey buildings, especially in cities.

While the NQF provides broad parameters for emergency planning, there is inconsistency across jurisdictions.

There is limited expert oversight over the development of emergency and evacuation plans for education and care services.

Further confusion has been generated because of recent changes to the National Construction Code for early learning services in multistorey buildings. The National Construction Code requires new providers to demonstrate safe egress through “performance solutions”.

Five options are presented to address this issue. These options are not mutually exclusive, and can be implemented together.

Option A is for no change.

The benefits are:

·       Business as usual.

·       The risk of harm is unlikely given the low number of evacuation incidents in multistorey buildings across Australia.

The negative impacts are:

·       The possible consequences of an emergency evacuation could be fatal. Inadequate policies and procedures may mean that children are not evacuated safely in the event of emergency.

Option B proposes an amendment to the emergency and evacuation requirements that acknowledge the greater level of risk associated with services located in multi storey buildings. For example, specifying the engagement of appropriate experts in the development of emergency plans and procedures.

The benefits are:

·       Emergency evacuation policies and procedures would likely be improved.

·       National consistency as all jurisdictions would require expert involvement in developing policies and procedures.

·       Improved clarity for services as to their requirements.

·       Reduced risk of harm to children in the event of an emergency evacuation.

The negative impacts are:

·       Financial costs to providers of services located in multi-storey buildings in order to engage a fire safety expert or engineer.

·       Costs to services for introducing reviews and/or risk assessments and training staff.

Improving children’s safety during emergency evacuations from multistorey buildings (continued)

Option C proposes a review of the service approval process to mandate that Regulatory Authorities to give greater consideration to suitability of the education and care service premises and the need for direct egress (or exit) for the safe evacuation of children from services located in multi storey buildings. This consideration would form part of the determination of a service approval.

This option would also apply to Family Day Care requiring Approved Providers to assess the Family Day Care residence as part of their approval processes, where located in multi-storey buildings.

The benefits are:

·       Reduced risk of harm to children in the event of an emergency evacuation.

The negative impacts are:

·       Possible administrative delays due to the Regulatory Authority requiring further information and expert advice before approving the service.

·       There may be higher rental costs if services are required to operate from the ground floor.

Option D is relevant to services located in Victoria and ACT only.

Option E proposes national guidance and communication strategies be developed to reinforce existing emergency and evacuation requirements for the early childhood education and care sector, thereby supporting services in strengthening their policies and procedures.

Guidance would also be prepared for persons involved in third-party planning and building development processes across states and territories.

The benefits are:

·       Preparing guidance for building development may help to ensure that the unique needs of early childhood services are taken into account in the planning process. This may help mitigate the cost of later alterations for providers.

The negative impacts are:

·       There may be some costs to governments for developing these guidance materials.

When considering the issue and the proposed options, some questions to think about include:

·       How significant is the risk to children attending education and care services located in a multistorey building in the event of an emergency?

·       How can these risks be reduced?

·       What are the benefits and negative impacts of the options?

Royal Commission

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, commissioned in 2012, inquired into institutional responses to instances (and allegations) of child sexual abuse and related matters.

The Royal Commission’s final report, released in December 2017, made a number of recommendations relevant to the education and care sector.

This chapter will consider ways to amend the NQF to align more closely with the Royal Commission’s recommendations in order to ensure children’s safety, health and wellbeing in education and care.

There are two issues in this chapter.

·       Embedding the National Child Safe Principles

·       And updating record keeping requirements

Before going into these issues, we would like to point out our new child safety web page which offers guidance on providing a child safe environment. We’ve consolidated a variety of training from the Office of the Children’s Guardian on how to implement the new Child Safe Standards.

Embedding the National Child Safe Principles

Along with state specific laws, standards and guidance, the National Principles, endorsed by members of the Council of Australian Governments including the Prime Minister and state and territory First Ministers in February 2019, provide a strong foundation for the work ahead.

Embedding truly safe and happy environments for our children to learn, grow and thrive – is where early childhood education and care services can play a critical leadership role.

There are a small number of gaps between the National Child Safe Principles and the NQF. To address these gaps and the risk of abuse occurring in education and care settings, this proposal and its options addresses expectations that measures should be implemented to help prevent child sexual abuse.

These principles are based on the findings and recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

In particular, the following areas have been identified as gaps in the NQF:

·       arrangements for volunteers in education and care services

·       how online environments, including video surveillance, are used and monitored in services

·       the role of organisational culture in reducing children’s exposure to the risk of abuse

Four options are presented to address this issue.

Option A is for no change

The benefits are:

·       Business as usual.

The negative impacts are:

·       Reputational risk for the sector if the higher standards of child protection are not maintained.

Option B proposes amending the ‘assessment guide’ in the Guide to the NQF to align with the assessment of all the National Principles.

This option would ensure Regulatory Authorities consider an education and care service’s compliance with the National Child Safe Principles during the assessment and rating process. Guidance for services would be provided in the Guide to the NQF about how Authorised Officers will consider the National Child Safe Principles during the process, and what services may do to demonstrate compliance.

The benefits are:

·       It will likely improve the safety of children and help reduce the risk of sexual abuse. However, note that the assessment process only captures permission at a single point in time.

The negative impacts are:

·       Some cost to providers for reviewing their policies and procedures and training staff.

Option C proposes amending the National Regulations so that the requirements for services to have in place policies and procedures for providing a child safe environment specifically refers to implementing the National Principles. This would include, for example, Approved Providers ensuring their policies and procedures address the National Principles.

The benefits are:

·       Will likely improve the safety of children and help reduce the risk of sexual abuse by ensuring services have policies and procedures in place that align with the National Child Safe Principles.

·       This option allows services to implement the National Child Safe Principles in a way that is suitable for their operating context.

·       Providers can rely on the NQF for up-to-date child safety best practice.

The negative impacts are:

·       There would be some costs to providers for updating policies and procedures and training staff. These costs may disproportionately affect small providers.

·       There may be inconsistencies in policies and procedures of services.

Option D proposes amending the National Regulations and associated guidance to address identified gaps between the National Child Safe Principles and the NQF. Such gaps include ensuring volunteers are aware of their obligations under child protection law, creating a child safe culture and the safe use of online environments. This option would require services to comply with the National Principles in the same manner as they are required to comply with the National Regulations.

The benefits are:

·       It provides families with the highest level of assurance that services comply with the National Child Safe Principles.

·       It will likely improve the safety of children and help reduce the risk of sexual abuse by providing clear actions for services to align with the National Child Safe Principles.

·       Providers can rely on the NQF for up-to-date child safety best practice.

·       It will likely improve national consistency by specifying how to implement the National Child Safe Principles.

The negative impacts are:

·       Services will have less flexibility in deciding how to implement the National Child Safe Principles.

·       There would be some costs to providers for updating policies and procedures and training staff. These costs may disproportionately affect small providers.

When considering the issue and the proposed options, some questions to think about include:

·       How can the National Child Safe Principles be implemented within the daily practices of services?

·       What challenges exist in attempting to align the assessment and rating process with the requirements of the National Child Safe Principles?

Updating record keeping requirements

Currently, Approved Providers are required to keep records relating to incidents and/or allegations of potential child abuse in a safe and secure place until the child is aged 25 years. The Royal Commission found that it takes on average 23.9 years for survivors to disclose childhood abuse. This means that any survivor over the age of 25 is not able to access records when they attended an early childhood education and care service and need to find alternative solutions to obtain information about themselves and/or not being able to access any information, reducing their ability for redress.

Four options are presented to address this issue.

Option A is for no change

The benefits are:

·       Business as usual.

The negative impacts are:

·       In the future, survivors of child abuse may be unable to access records, which could obstruct efforts to charge the offender.

Option B proposes improved guidance to assist providers to improve record keeping practices to create and maintain relevant, accurate and detailed records by drawing on best practice knowledge.

The benefits are:

·       Guidance would likely assist providers to improve record-keeping.

·       Improved record-keeping would likely make it easier for child abuse survivors to access records that may support their claims.

The negative impacts are:

·       Guidance does not make it mandatory for providers to improve their record-keeping practices.

·       Some providers may choose to not make the recommended changes, and sexual abuse survivors may be unable to access their records.

·       There may be some costs associated with updating policies and procedures and training staff.

Option C proposes an amendment to the National Regulations that would require services to retain records for a period of 45 years, giving survivors of sexual abuse the best chance to access relevant records to support their claims, based on the average time taken to disclose abuse is around 24 years.

The benefits are: 

·       This would allow survivors of child sexual abuse to access their records beyond when they reach 25 years of age.

The negative impacts are: 

·       There would likely be an additional cost to providers for maintaining records for an additional 20 years.

·       There may be difficulties maintaining records if a service closes. 

Option D proposes specifically requiring not-for-profit, community and for-profit providers to retain records for a period of 45 years. This is notable as many smaller, not-for-profit and community organisations are often exempt or have less stringent requirements when it comes to privacy legislation and mandatory record-keeping requirements.

The benefits are: 

·       Improved record-keeping would likely make it easier for child abuse survivors to access records that may support their claims.

The negative are: 

·       There would likely be an additional cost to providers for maintaining records in line with recommendations.

·       Additional costs may impact the viability of not-for-profit and community providers.

When considering the issue and the proposed options, some questions to think about include:

·       What challenges might be experienced in trying to retain records for a period of 45 years?

·       What costs might be incurred in doing so?

·       What benefits exist for doing so?

Regulation, Assessment and Rating

This video explores the following CRIS issues:
  • The quality ratings system
  • Changes in fees for Regulatory Authorities
  • Changes in application fees for ACECQA functions
  • Assessing suitability of individuals to work directly or indirectly with children
  • Cancellation of Provider Approval under Family Assistance Law
  • Arrangements to transfer a service to another approved provider
  • Maintaining current information about service delivery
Regulation, Assessment and Rating

Understanding Quality Ratings

The assessment and rating system is a key element of the NQF and requires that education and care services are assessed and rated against the seven quality areas in the National Quality Standard.

The ratings promote continual quality improvement, while at the same time help families choose quality services when making decisions about where to send their children for education and care.

The quality rating system introduced by the NQF has helped improve systematic quality within the education and care sector over time.

The quality rating system

The percentage of services rating ‘Meeting’ or above has increased every year since the introduction of the NQF. However, the rating labels are perceived by many, outside of the sector and governments, to be difficult to engage with and require additional explanation for families and carers in deciphering expectations of service practice at each rating level.

This lack of understanding may result in families and carers receiving a lower quality of care than what they believe they have purchased.

The community also does not typically understand that minimum safety standards are actively monitored and enforced by Regulatory Authorities, in addition to the quality rating.

This is a communications issue which means that the rating labels in the current format may confuse rather than aid the community’s understanding of the quality of services.

There is an opportunity to refine the use of these labels to better support an understanding of the value of quality in education and care settings for the benefit of children, and the broader community.

In NSW, the display of a service’s overall National Quality Standard rating has been redesigned to help families better understand and engage with your quality improvement journey.

This initiative was announced last year as part of a wider strategy to drive quality improvement and promote the value of early childhood education and school-aged care.

There are a growing number of services that have already transitioned from the existing quality ratings certificates to the new family friendly format, with positive feedback from services and families.

The Department has developed some resources to help guide your conversations with families, or to share more information about Quality Ratings with families, available on our website.

The Department is closely monitoring the rollout progress and will be conducting an evaluation following full implementation to test the impact of the NSW quality ratings on family awareness of quality ratings. NSW will work closely with the NQF Review to share our findings.

 This initiative is in line with Option C in the CRIS.

There are four options presented to address this issue.

Option A is for no change.

The benefits are:

·       Business as usual.

The negative impacts are:

·       The complexity of the current system may be confusing, and families may not know how to use the quality rating system to inform their choice of education and care.

Option B proposes modifying the quality rating terminology.

This option would result in changing the words and descriptions currently associated with each rating level of the quality ratings system.

The benefits are:

·       Families may be able to understand the quality ratings to make better informed decisions about education and care.

The negative impacts are:

·       There would be costs to governments associated with implementing new or modified labels.

·       There may be some costs to providers for implementing the modified terminology.

Option C proposes introducing a visual representation for communicating and promoting the quality ratings.

A visual representation of the quality ratings system may support families to recognise the rating levels, and to more easily make distinctions as to the overall quality of the service being considered. This would be similar to the current rating logos available through ACECQA, or the star-based quality rating system introduced in NSW.

The benefits are:

·       Families could easily recognise rating labels to help inform their decisions about education and care.

The negative impacts are:

·       There would be costs to governments associated with developing and implementing a new visual representation.

·       There may be costs to services associated with incorporating the visual into their branding and marketing materials.

Option D proposes guidance and advice to the community about the purpose of quality ratings.

The benefits are:

·       Families would be supported to recognise the ratings and make better informed decisions about education and care.

The negative impacts are:

·       There would be costs to governments for developing guidance materials

When considering the issue and the proposed options, some questions to think about include:

·       Whether a modified terminology for quality ratings would help to promote community engagement and understanding of the importance of quality in early childhood education and care and outside school hours care?

·       What kind of alternative terminology might be more useful, especially about ‘Working Towards’ the National Quality Standard?

·       Would a visual representation be more useful to families?

·       How can families be supported in their understanding of quality rating levels?

Chapter 9 Fees

Regulatory fees reflect the cost to the community of providing regulatory services. Fees also fund regulation of the NQF and are intended to enable regulators to ensure appropriate oversight of services including monitoring the safety and quality of education and care services.

The purpose of this chapter is to seek feedback on proposed changes to fees for Regulatory Authorities, including the national body, the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA).

To date, fees have only changed in line with the annual consumer price index, and remain lower than comparable sectors.

Changes to fees for RAs

There are a number of options regarding changes in fees for Regulatory Authorities.

Option A is for no change to fees.

The benefits are:

·       Business as usual.

The negative impacts are:

·       The sector is becoming more expensive to regulate, and Regulatory Authorities could support a better framework with more fee income.

Option B is to create a fourth category of application/annual fee for centre-based services with 101 or more places and Family Day Care services with 61 or more educators.

The benefits are:

·       Increased fees would only affect larger providers, which are costlier and more complex to regulate.

·       Regulatory Authorities would have more funding to support the NQF. This could have positive impacts on the overall quality and safety of education and care for families.

The negative impacts are:

·       Higher fees may be passed on to families by increasing service fees.

Option C is to increase the fees for the following specific categories:

·       Annual fees

·       Approved provider applications

·       Service approval applications

·       And transfer of service notifications

The benefits are:

·       Regulatory Authorities would have more funding to support the NQF. This could have positive impacts on overall quality and safety of education and care for families.

The negative impacts are:

·       Higher fees may be passed on to families by increasing service fees.

Option D proposes an introduction of a new fee for applications for amendment to service approval, which is currently free. The proposed fee is $111.

The benefits are:

·       Regulatory Authorities would have more funding to support the NQF. This could have positive impacts on overall quality and safety of education and care for families.

The negative impacts are:

·       Higher fees may be passed on to families by increasing service fees.

Option E Approved Providers operating a small number of services would pay a lower fee than those operating a higher number of services.

The benefits are:

·       Regulatory authorities would have more funding to support the NQF. This could have positive impacts on overall quality and safety of education and care for families.

·       Fees would be scaled, with the majority of providers paying the lowest annual fee rate.

The negative impacts are:

·       Higher fees may be passed on to families by increasing service fees.

Option F proposes changing legislation to allow states and territories to set their own fees, except for provider application fees.

The benefits are:

·       Regulatory Authorities would have more funding to support the NQF. This could have positive impacts on overall quality and safety of education and care for families.

·       States would be able to set their own fees to suit their operating context.

The negative impacts are:

·       Higher fees may be passed on to families by increasing service fees.

·       There would be inconsistencies across states. If fees are very different, providers may locate their businesses in lower-fee states. This may result in shortages in higher-fee states. Provider approval application fees could remain consistent to help avoid this outcome.

When considering this issue and the proposed options, some questions to think about include:

·       Would these fee increases have an impact on the viability of your service?

·       Would these increases have any impact on families being able to access education and care services?

·       Is it important that fees are consistent nationally?

Changes in application fees for ACECQA functions

The options related to changes in application fees for ACECQA functions include:

Option A is for no change.

The benefits are: Business as usual.

A negative impact could be ACECQA’s ability to support services to make applications may be impacted over time.

Option B proposes to increase the application fee for a review by the Ratings Review Panel of rating level.

Option C proposes to increase the application fee for determination of an equivalent qualification.

Option D proposes to increase the application fee for assessment of a course to be included as an approved qualification.

Option E proposes to introduce a fee for an application for the highest rating, being the Excellent rating. The fee for Excellent rating applications was removed in the 2014 Review of the National Quality Agenda. The assessment of Excellent rating applications by ACECQA is a resource-intensive process. In the absence of a supplementary source of revenue or partial cost recovery, ACECQA’s capacity over time to properly administer this regulatory function has been reduced.

Options B to E all have similar benefits and negative impacts:

The benefits are:

·       ACECQA would have the means to properly administer its functions and support services to make their applications.

·       Fee increases would be proportional to size of providers.

The negative impacts are:

·       There would likely be an increase in costs to providers and services.

These changes could all be implemented, or any one change could be implemented on its own.

When considering this issue and the proposed options, some questions to think about include:

·       Would an increase to fees impact your decision to apply for these ACECQA services?

·       Should the fee for the Excellent rating be reintroduced?

Chapter 10 Governance

The maturation and growth of the education and care sector has resulted in a variety of different management practices emerging in the sector.

Regulatory settings need to:

·       have the capacity to allow regulators to identify responsible persons

·       hold these individuals to account for the services they deliver to children and families

·       ensure regulators are kept informed of governance or operational changes which may impact materially on children and families

·       have the opportunity to investigate or intervene should the circumstances warrant.

There are four issues in this chapter

·       Assessing suitability of individuals to work directly or indirectly with children

·       Cancellation of Provider Approval under FAL

·       Arrangements to transfer a service to another Approved Provider

·       Maintaining current information about service delivery

Assessing suitability of individuals to work directly or indirectly with children

The National Law and the Family Assistance Law (FAL) differ in their definition of who is a PMC, the role and responsibilities of a PMC and the process for assessing the fitness and propriety of individuals who work with children.

Furthermore, differing approaches to assessing fitness and propriety also pose risks to children and require significantly more resources from regulators to exclude inappropriate providers from the sector once they have been granted provider approval.

Issues have also arisen in Family Day Care settings, where care is provided in the home of an educator. While the educator is required to satisfy fitness and propriety requirements, there is no express requirement to assess the suitability of other residents to be around children being educated and cared for, including young people residing in the Family Day Care (FDC) residence (i.e. under 18 years of age). Furthermore, there is no requirement for Family Day Care (FDC) educators to notify the Approved Provider of any matters that may affect the suitability of residents in their home to be in the presence of children.

There are five options presented to address this issue.

Option A is for no change.

The benefits are:

·       Business as usual.

The negative impacts are:

·       There may be ongoing confusion about the PMC role, definition and process for assessing PMCs.

·       Likewise, there will be no explicit application process for PMCs, and no clear notification requirement for residents at Family Day Care (FDC) services.

Option B proposes a legislative change to align the matters relating to Persons with Management or Control. This option provides consistency between the Family Assistance Law (FAL) and the National Law, and would mean that persons seeking an assessment under one scheme will only need to satisfy one set of requirements, rather than navigating two sets of requirements.

The benefits are:

·       Consistency across the NQF and FAL.

·       Stronger requirements that should help reduce the risk of unsuitable individuals working with children.

·       If the NQF were amended to match the FAL, services would have autonomy deciding on a PMC.

·       Improved efficiency for processing applications, which could allow providers to begin operating sooner.

The negative impacts are:

·       If the FAL were amended to match the NQF, more people would have to meet fitness and propriety tests, which would increase costs for providers.

Option C proposes a legislative change to enable the Regulatory Authority to seek out further information regarding the applicant to enable further inquiry as necessary when assessing the application. Applicants will be required to answer these questions in a matter satisfactory to the Regulatory Authority in order for their application to succeed.

The benefits are:

·       This option would help to more accurately identify inappropriate providers and exclude them before they can pose a risk to children.

The negative impacts are:

·       Costs and time for providers to undertake additional assessments.

·       Assessments may create barriers for people with non-English-speaking backgrounds.

·       Costs to governments for developing additional assessments.

Option D proposes a legislative change to require applicants to undertake an assessment of their knowledge of the National Quality Framework prior to making an application, if requested by the Regulatory Authority. An applicant would be subject to testing by the Regulatory Authority, in a manner that satisfies the Regulatory Authority that their knowledge of the NQF is adequate.

The benefits are:

·       This option would help to more accurately identify inappropriate providers and exclude them before they can pose a risk to children.

The negative impacts are:

·       Costs and time for providers and individuals to undertake additional assessments.

·       Assessments may create barriers for people with non-English-speaking backgrounds.

·       Costs to governments for developing additional assessments.

Option E proposes a legislative change that will require Family Day Care educators to notify the approved provider of circumstances arising that pose a risk to the health, safety or wellbeing of children of the service. This will require a Family Day Care educator to make a notification whenever such an incident arises, and in turn Approved Providers are required to notify the Regulatory Authority under existing requirements. Improving the flow of information enables Approved Providers to appropriately consider any risks that pose a risk to children and ensure they are appropriately mitigated.

The benefits are:

·       Improved children’s safety at Family Day Care.

The negative impacts are:

·       Costs to providers and educators for reporting, and costs to governments for processing reports.

When considering this issue and the proposed options, some questions to think about include:

·       What is important to you in terms of suitability to work as a person with management or control? 

·       Will an aligned approach to assessing fitness and propriety and a common definition of a person with management or control under the National Law and the Family Assistance Law better promote children’s safety, health and wellbeing?

·       What would make an individual unsuitable to work in education and care in a management role?

·       Do you think it is important to have knowledge of the NQF to fulfil a management role?

·       Should this be tested before a person is approved, and how this should be tested?

Cancellation of Provider Approval under the Family Assistance Law

Grounds for cancellation of Provider Approval under the Family Assistance Law (FAL) are relevant and sufficiently serious to support the grounds for cancellation under the NQF (for e.g. fitness and propriety, unacceptable risk, indictable offenses). However, cancellation of provider approval under the Family Assistance Law is not explicit grounds for cancellation of provider approval under the NQF.

Instead, when Regulatory Authorities receive a notification from the Australian Government of a recent cancellation under the Family Assistance Law, they may move to cancel the provider approval under the National Law. In order to cancel a provider approval under the NQF, Regulatory Authorities must first identify sufficient evidence to establish grounds. This process is slow and burdensome. As a result, services proven unsuitable under the Family Assistance Law continue to operate under the NQF for a period typically for longer than 44 days, and may be posing risks to the safety, health and wellbeing of children.

There are three options presented to address this issue.

Option A is for no change.

The benefits are:

·       Business as usual.

The negative impacts are:

·       There is a risk to the safety of children if a provider continues to operate during the process of being cancelled under the NQF.

·       Costs to governments for cancelling service approval twice under each system.

Option B proposes a legislative change that stipulates that if a provider has their provider approval cancelled under the Family Assistance Law where it relates to fitness and propriety and/or a breach of the NQF, that this is then sufficient grounds to also have their provider approval cancelled under the NQF.

Option C proposes a legislative change that stipulates that if a provider has their application for provider approval refused under the Family Assistance Law where it relates to fitness and propriety and/or a breach of the NQF, that this is then sufficient grounds to have their provider approval cancelled under the NQF.

The negative impacts and benefits of Option B and Option C are the same.

The benefits are:

·       Services could be cancelling efficiently, reducing the time that children are attending a service that should be cancelled.

·       Reduced risk of harm to children.

·       Reduce costs for governments by removing duplication.

The negative impacts are:

·       Faster cancellation may mean families have less time to find alternative education and care.

·       Services that are cancelled may reduce the number of education and care places available.

When considering this issue and the proposed options, some questions to think about include:

·       Is it appropriate for the Family Assistance Law and the NQF to be aligned?

·       What are the benefits of automatic cancellations and refusals under the NQF based on cancellation or refusal under the Family Assistance Law?

·       Should this be a reviewable decision under the National Law?

·       What are the potential costs and negative impacts?

·       Are there circumstances where automatic cancellation would have unintended consequences?

Arrangements to transfer a service to another Approved Provider

The process by which service approval is transferred from one Approved Provider to another has complexities for services and for families who use education and care services.

The limitations on intervening in a transfer mean that significant changes to the circumstances of a transfer could occur after the Regulatory Authorities’ window to intervene has closed. The community expects that services and service providers will be appropriately vetted and considered appropriate to deliver care and education to children.

There are fouroptions presented to address this issue.

Option A is for no change.

The benefits are:

·       Business as usual.

The negative impacts are:

·       Families do not have enough time to assess the impact of a transfer.

·       There could be a risk to children if issues relating to safety arise after the window to intervene has closed.

Option B proposes the development of guidance for services and providers about the service transfer process and how to best advise families about the transfer. As guidance does not have legislative force, there is no obligation for services to follow the guidance.

The benefits are:

·       Providers would likely have a better understanding of the process, and could better support families to understand the impact of this change.

The negative impacts are:

·       Costs to governments for developing this guidance.

Option C proposes to address challenges associated with timeframes through a number of minor legislative changes. These changes would require incoming and outgoing providers to give notice to the Regulatory Authority of delays. Outgoing providers would be required to give notice in this way regarding the intent to transfer via these same channels. Outgoing providers will also be expected to give notice to parents in some way, either in writing, via phone, or in person, of the change to service provision.

The benefits are:

·       Reduced risk to children if serious issues arise after the intervention period, as the Regulatory Authority would be able to intervene.

·       Families would have more time to consider the new provider and make a decision.

The negative impacts are:

·       A slower transfer process, which could have a significant cost on service providers and may create a barrier to transferring service approval.

Option D proposes a legislative change to ‘deem’ the transfer to have occurred based on the advice of the receiving provider only, with receipt of the receiving provider’s right to occupy. This will require the receiving provider to contact the Regulatory Authority, and to produce evidence of a right to occupy, in order for the transfer to be ‘deemed’.

The benefits are:

·       Delays may be minimised

·       Administrative burden may be reduced for providers.

The negative impacts are:

·       The transfer may not be finalised in time, creating legal ambiguity as to who occupies and runs the service.

When considering this issue and the proposed options, some questions to think about include:

·       What are the benefits of longer timeframes, and what are the downsides?

·       What impact will notice requirements have?

·       In terms of notifying families, what do you think is a reasonable amount of time to allow parents to make an informed choice?

·       What kind of notice do you think families require?

·       What kind of format should be used, for e.g. in person, via phone, or in writing?

Maintaining current information about service delivery

The absence of notification requirements has resulted in services providing education and care to children of different age groups than originally identified in their service approval. Services could be operating without the facilities, staffing qualifications or knowledge specific to the current age of children attending them. Thus, children could be placed in service settings that operate with approval but are in fact inappropriate for their needs and pose a risk to their safety, health and wellbeing.

Without up-to-date information about service delivery, Regulatory Authorities are unable to identify and prevent potential risks within services. For example, it may affect services’ ability (including services in high-rise buildings) to safely evacuate in emergency situations such as bushfires or flooding. Also, Regulatory Authorities are unable to provide appropriate support and resources to services considering to change their nature of care or age groups of children.

Option A is for no change.

The benefits are:

·       Business as usual.

The negative impacts are:

·       Services can change aspects of their operation without notifying the Regulatory Authority, which could lead to lower quality education for children being exposed to risks.

·       Data in reports and national registers may be inaccurate.

Option B proposes a legislative change to require notification to the Regulatory Authority of changes to the ages of children being cared for and nature of care provided. Providers will be required to notify the Regulatory Authority via of such changes as they arise.

The benefits are:

·       Regulatory authorities would have more information about the service, and be able to engage with them to improve the health safety and well-being of children (for example by ensuring they have age-appropriate equipment).

The negative impacts are:

·       Costs to providers for reporting to the Regulatory Authority.

·       Costs to governments for monitoring these reports.

Option C proposes a legislative change to introduce an approval requirement, which obliges providers to apply to the Regulatory Authority to change the ages of children cared for and nature of care delivered by a service.

The benefits are:

·       Regulatory Authorities would have more information about the service, and be able to engage with them to improve the health safety and well-being of children.

The negative impacts are:

·       Application costs for providers, which should take approximately 1 to 5 hours.

·       Costs to governments for processing these applications.

·       There could be delays - An application takes 28 days to process. Families may be unable to access the service during this time.

Option D proposes the provision of guidance and additional resources in relation to age-appropriate programs and facility requirements. As guidance does not have any legal force, there is no obligation to follow it, and it will be a matter for providers to decide, depending on their needs.

The benefits are:

·       Providers would be supported to understand the needs of different age groups before changing their model.

The negative impacts are:

·       Costs to governments for developing this guidance.

·       Services can still change aspects of their operation without notifying the Regulatory Authority, which could lead to lower quality education for children being exposed to risks.

·       Data in reports and national registers may be inaccurate.

When considering this issue and the proposed options, some questions to think about include:

·       Is it important for regulators to know this information?

·       What impact will there be on services if they have to provide this information?

·       Do you think it will lead to better outcomes for children in care?

·       Is there any other information regulators should receive on top of, or instead of, this information?

Family Day Care

This video explores the following CRIS issues:

  • FDC Register and notification requirements
  • FDC exceptional circumstances
  • Safety around swimming pools in FDC residences
  • Safety of glass used by services in Family Day Care
  • Minimum qualification requirements for educators in FDC
Family Day Care

Family Day Care

Family Day Care or services provide education and care in a residential environment. This chapter will consider options to strengthen existing requirements to ensure the safety of children attending FDC services, and improve Family Day Care for families and staff.

There are four issues in this chapter:

·       FDC register and notification requirements

·       Exceptional circumstances in Family Day Care

·       Safety around swimming pools in FDC residences

·       Safety of glass used by services in FDC

FDC Register and notification requirements

Regulatory Authorities do not have access to information on the FDC Register unless specifically requested. This lack of access limits risk-based proactive approaches by Regulatory Authorities of preventing inappropriate FDC educators from providing education and care services to children. Likewise, access to educator details during emergency situations such as bushfires and COVID-19 may allow Regulatory Authorities to support service providers in meeting their obligations to ensure the safety of children. This issue makes it more likely that children and families could come into contact with persons involved in serious criminal activity, such as fraud.

There are two options that are presented to address this issue.

Option A is for no change.

The benefits are:

·       Under the current system, Approved Providers must maintain an accurate register of all educators, coordinators and educator assistants.

The negative impacts are:

·       Without a unique identifier, there is a risk of children being exposed to undetected fraud.

·       There is a risk to children if they are exposed to educators who were previously found non-compliant.

Option B proposes amending the register requirements so that the Family Day Care Register is maintained in an online environment in a consistent format to further assist regulators in carrying out their duties, including supporting Family Day Care providers, educators, coordinators and assistants.

Information requirements in the online environment would be specified and consistent across all providers, including for example:

·       Names and Dates of Birth of children attending the service

·       Names and contact phone numbers of educators, co-ordinators and educator assistants

·       Family Day Care educators’ and coordinators’ PRODA numbers.

A provider digital access number, known as a PRODA number is a unique identifier that is provided by the Australian Government for educators to claim the child care subsidy. The PRODA identification number remains with the educator even if they move between services and/or jurisdictions. Currently, Approved Providers are not required to collect PRODA numbers for the Family Day Care Register.

The benefits are:

·       Improved ability to trace Family Day Care educators across the system, which may assist governments in addressing fraud.

·       Children’s safety would be improved due to reduced chance of exposure to educators previously found non-compliant.

The negative impacts are:

·       There would be costs for Approved Providers to move information from their register to the NQA ITS.

When considering the issue and the proposed options, some questions to think about include:

·       What are the impacts (both positive and negative) of moving the Family Day Care Register online?

·       What are the impacts for providers, educators and the general public?

·       Should there be timeframes for ensuring information is updated?

·       Is there other information that would be useful, for example information about educators with pools (also an issue in the current CRIS) and whether children being educated and cared for utilise the pool?

Exceptional circumstances in FDC

Regulatory Authorities do not have access to information on FDC educators who have been given an exemption to care for more than seven children due to exceptional circumstances. FDC educators may be able to care for more than seven children for extended periods of time with limited oversight from Regulatory Authorities. Caring for more than seven children may reduce the quality of education for children and increase the risk of harm.

Two options are presented to address this issue.

Option A is for no change

The benefits are:

·       Business as usual.

The negative impacts are:

·       Educators may be able to care for more than seven children for an extended period of time without oversight.

·       If this occurs, there could be a negative impact on children’s learning and health and safety risks if children are not well supervised.

Option B proposes requiring Approved Providers to include details of Family Day Care educators operating above ratio due to exceptional circumstances on the Family Day Care register.

The benefits are:

·       Regulatory authorities would be able to monitor potential misuse of the exceptional circumstances provision.

·       With greater oversight, it is less likely that educators will care for more than seven children when exceptional circumstances do not apply. This would improve the safety and education for children at the service.

The negative impacts are:

·       There may be some costs to Approved Providers for including details of any FDC educators who are caring for more than seven children due to exceptional circumstances.

When considering the issue and the proposed options, some questions to think about include:

·       What, if any, problems have you experienced with the provision for exceptional circumstances in relation to Family Day Care ratios?

·       What are the impacts (both positive and negative) of including this information on the Family Day Care Register?

·       Would any other information be relevant such as the dates the educator has provided care?

Safety around swimming pools in FDC residences

The single educator model of FDC increases the risk of children drowning at services where there are swimming pools. In 2017-2019, there were 69 instances where children were exposed to harm or hazard related to swimming pools, and 14 instances where children were not properly supervised around swimming pools. Active supervision is important for preventing drowning and adults must be within arm’s reach of young children around water. Educators may not be able to prevent and respond to incidents while managing multiple children alone.

Four options are presented to address this issue.

Option A is for no change.

The benefits are:

·       No additional costs to providers for complying with changes.

·       If used safely, swimming pools provide an opportunity for children to learn to swim and to cool down.

·       Flexibility for FDC educators to provide a homelike environment and manage safety around swimming pools.

·       If pools are allowed, more residences can be used for Family Day Care. This may allow for better access to early childhood education and care.

The negative impacts are:

·       Swimming pools in Family Day Care services pose a risk to children because of the single educator model. Educators may not be able to actively and constantly supervise children around the pool.

Option B proposes allowing swimming pools with improved oversight, such as fencing and monitoring requirements.

The benefits are:

·       Improved regulatory oversight of FDC residences with pools. This would likely improve compliance with pool safety requirements.

·       It may reduce the risk of harm to children.

The negative impacts are:

·       FDC providers would incur costs associated with conducting monthly monitoring. This would cost approximately $25.56 per coordinator, per month, per residence. There would also be travel costs associated with visits to rural and remote residences.

·       Additional costs would be incurred for preparing training materials. The expected cost for training staff amounts to approximately $452.

·       FDC Approved Providers may find the additional requirements for monthly monitoring onerous and choose to reduce the number of FDC educators with pools as a result. This may reduce accessibility for families and impact the supply of available education and care options particularly in regional areas.

·       If FDC providers reduce the number of FDC educators with pools, children may miss out on opportunities for learning to swim, playing in the pool and cooling off in summer.

Option C proposes prohibiting new Family Day Care educators operating from a residence or venue with a swimming pool.

The benefits are:

·       There would likely be a reduction in the risk of drowning over time.

The negative impacts are:

·       This option does not address supervision or safety inspections, and so existing FDC residences with pools will continue to pose a risk to the safety of children.

·       If FDC providers reduce the number of FDC educators with pools, children may miss out on opportunities for learning to swim, playing in the pool and cooling off in summer.

·       If fewer residences can be used for FDC, there may be fewer early childhood education and care places available.

Option D proposes the development of additional resources and guidance to improve the overall awareness of the sector in relation to swimming pools.

The benefits are:

·       The sector’s awareness of safety around swimming pools would likely be improved, which may help reduce the risk of drowning.

The negative impacts are:

·       Costs to governments for developing and distributing guidance materials.

Options B and C are mutually exclusive. Option D could be introduced in conjunction with any other option.

When considering the issue and the proposed options, some questions to think about include:

·       What level of risk exists for children attending Family Day Care services with a swimming pool?

·       Do the proposed options reduce risk and increase safety for children?

·       Are there any additional safety requirements for Family Day Care educators operating at a residence or venue with a swimming pool?

·       Under what circumstances, if any, is it safe for children in Family Day Care to engage in swimming? 

·       How is adequate supervision maintained and is the age of children relevant?

·       Should additional staff be considered such as educator assistant or another educator?

·       Is a risk assessment required and what would this consider?

Safety of glass used by services in Family Day Care

There are inconsistencies in glass height rules as they apply to FDC services, which may lead to non-compliance. Not complying with glass safety requirements can result in significant harm to children if they fall through glass.

Five options are presented to address this issue.

Option A is for no change.

The benefits are:

·       Business as usual.

The negative impacts are:

·       Glass related incidents may continue to occur due to varied rules and the difficulty for Family Day Care educators to access the glass requirements. Glass related incidents are not common, but can be very serious.

Option B proposes requiring all Family Day Care residences and venues to comply with 0.75m height requirement.

This option raises the current glass height by 0.25m and reverts to the previous regulatory requirements that were in place prior to aligning the National Regulations with the Australian Standard.

The benefits are:

·       Reduced risk of harm due to glass related incidents.

The negative impacts are:

·       FDC services may need to either replace glass or implement additional safety measures to comply with the regulation. The cost of complying with this regulation for FDC educators can be achieved by applying safety film over any glass below the height requirement. The cost of safety film is estimated at $45 - $60 per square metre.

·       An inconsistency will remain between FDC and centre-based care requirements. This may mean children in FDC are exposed to greater risk relating to glass.

Option C proposes ensuring that Family Day Care residences and venues that are approved on or after the date the regulation comes into effect would be required to comply with 1m height requirement. Existing Family Day Care residences would retain current requirements.

The benefits are:

·       Consistency across new FDC services and centre-based care.

·       Reduced risk of harm due to glass related incidents.

The negative impacts are:

·       Having different height requirements depending on the date of service approval may create confusion and lead to lower levels of compliance, which could put children at greater risk.

·       New FDC services may have costs associated with complying, though this would be low for the cost of safety film.

Safety of glass used by services in FDC (continued)

Option D proposes that new Family Day Care residences comply with the 1m height requirement and all existing Family Day Care residences and venues transition to 1m height requirement over time by putting in place an expiry date for the 0.75m and 0.5m requirements.

The benefits are:

·       Consistency across FDC and centre-based care.

·       Reduced risk of harm due to glass related incidents.

The negative impacts are:

·       New FDC services may have costs associated with complying, though this would be low for the cost of safety film.

Option E proposes the development of additional guidance and resources in relation to glass safety requirements for Family Day Care services.

The benefits are:

·       Improved understanding and awareness of glass safety requirements could reduce the risk of harm due to glass related incidents.

The negative impacts are:

·       Costs to governments for developing and distributing guidance materials.

When considering the issue and the proposed options, some questions to think about include:

·       Whether this is a problem that you have experienced at your service

·       What is the risk for children attending services that do not meet glass requirements, including any incidents that have occurred due to glass

·       What are the impacts (both positive and negative) of the proposed options

Chapter 7 Workforce

There is one issue from the Workforce chapter specifically relevant to FDC which is minimum qualification requirements for educators in FDC.

Minimum qualification requirements for educators in FDC

FDC educators may be “Actively Working Towards” a qualification whilst working as an educator.

In centre-based care, educators who are ‘actively working towards’ their qualification are supported by fully-qualified staff at the service. In the operating context of FDC, however, educators who are ‘actively working towards’ their qualification may not be supported by qualified colleagues on a day-to-day basis. FDC co-ordinators do provide some support, but are not required to be present at the service. Current requirements allow one co-ordinator for every 15 educators for the first 12 months of operation, and for every 25 educators thereafter.

Only a small percentage of FDC educators do not hold a qualification, so the impact of the ‘actively working towards’ provision affects a small proportion of services. Of these educators who do not hold a qualification, there is a risk that they are less familiar with child safety best practice.

There are four options presented to address this issue:

Option A is for no change.

The benefits are:

·       Lower barriers for FDC educators may improve the accessibility of FDC for families.

The negative impacts are:

·       Children may be at risk of harm due to FDC educators’ lack of awareness of child safety best practice.

Option B proposes the removal of the ‘actively working towards’ provisions for Family Day Care educators and require these educators to hold an approved certificate III qualification prior to commencing their role in a Family Day Care service.

This option would no longer allow educators in Family Day Care services to utilise the ‘actively working towards’ provision, requiring instead that educators in Family Day Care services have completed their qualification at minimum.

The benefits are:

·       The risk of harm to children would be reduced, and the quality of education would be improved.

The negative impacts are:

·       There may be an additional burden on qualified workforce supply.

·       And access to FDC may be impacted, particularly in rural and regional areas where workforce shortages are worse.

Option C proposes requiring educators in Family Day Care services to have completed at least an approved Certificate III qualification within 24 months of commencement in a Family Day Care educator role.

This option creates a timeframe in which educators in Family Day Care services must complete their qualification.

The benefits are:

·       FDC educators would still have the flexibility to work while studying for their qualification.

·       And educators would be encouraged to finish their qualification, which would likely improve quality.

The negative impacts are:

·       There would be some administrative burden to providers for ensuring FDC educators complete their qualification.

Option D proposes requiring educators in Family Day Care services who are ‘actively working towards’ their Certificate III qualification to have completed at least 50 percent of their qualification, including child protection elements, prior to commencing employment.

This option places a restriction on the ‘actively working toward’ provision whereby educators of Family Day Care services will be required to have completed a minimum of 50% of their qualification prior to commencement as an educator.

The benefits are:

·       The risk of harm to children would be reduced, and the quality of education would be improved.

·       FDC educators would still have the flexibility to work while studying for their qualification.

The negative impacts are:

·       There would be a barrier to employment for some educators, which may have an impact on availability of education and care.

When considering the issue and the proposed options, some questions to think about include:

·       What are the positive and negative impacts of the proposed options?

·       Do you see any workforce shortages in your area?

·       How should these shortages, if they exist, be addressed?

·       What problems do you foresee if services cannot access suitably qualified educators?

·       And by what do you think makes a person ‘suitably qualified’? 

Workforce

This video explores the following CRIS issues:

  • Restrictions on short term relief for early childhood educators
  • Educators who are ‘actively working towards’ a qualification
  • Minimum qualification requirements for educators in FDC
Workforce

Workforce

Research demonstrates that highly qualified staff are more likely to facilitate better educational and developmental outcomes for children. Staffing, and the recruitment and retention of high quality educators, is critical to quality education and care, but is a significant business cost for education and care services.

This chapter will consider options to reduce staffing pressure on services, while retaining the benefits of a highly qualified and professional workforce for children and families.

 There are three issues in this chapter:

·       Restrictions on short term relief for early childhood educators. This includes options for how the 3rd and 4th ECT requirements could be modified in NSW. Any changes would apply all of the time that a 3rd or 4th ECT is required in NSW, not only during short term absences.

·       The other issues include: Educators who are ‘actively working towards’ a qualification

·       Minimum qualification requirements for educators in FDC.

Restrictions on short term relief for early childhood educators

Recruiting educators to relieve staff on short-term absences due to illness or leave can be difficult for providers. Currently, if an ECT is absent due to short-term illness or leave, they can be replaced by a person with an approved diploma or primary teaching qualification for up to 60 days in a 12-month period, pursuant to NSW specific regulation 272, sub-regulation 6. This flexibility allows service providers to draw from a larger pool of suitably qualified educators to meet staff ratio and qualification requirements.

While this flexibility exists for ECTs, the same rules do not apply for diploma and Certificate III educators, which limits services’ capacity to draw on relief educators. Restrictions on relief teachers places an administrative and cost burden on services, which may be passed on to families in fees. If services are unable to fill the role in the short term they may need to apply for a staffing waiver. During this interim period without a suitably qualified educator, the education of children at the service may also be disrupted and the quality of education and care impacted.

Feedback has been received from the sector that allowing primary teachers or other educators to act as short-term relief educator would offer more flexibility for service providers, resulting in reduced administrative and cost burden on the service and improved education and care for children.

Four options are proposed to address this issue, with one change option only applicable to services in NSW:

Option A is for no change.

The benefits are:

·       Business as usual.

The negative impacts are:

·       It may not be possible to replace educators on short notice, and if no short-term replacement is found there may be a negative impact on children’s educational outcomes.

·       Reduced flexibility may result in increased costs over time, which may be passed on through increased fees and limit the accessibility and affordability of education and care for families.

Option B proposes extending the requirements for ‘short-term’ absences to 80 days. Currently, services may utilise a diploma level educator or primary teacher in place of an ECT for up to 60 days in a 12 month period. If this change were to be implemented, it would enable services to utilise relief staff for an additional 4 additional work weeks, up to 80 days over the course of the year.

The benefits are:

·       Increased flexibility for services may result in fewer disruptions to children’s education if staff can be replaced more easily in the short-term.

·       This flexibility may help services adapt to future workforce challenges.

·       Providers may save on the cost of challenging recruitment and/or applying for a staffing waiver.

The negative impacts are:

·       Providers may be incentivised to replace educators with lower qualified staff to save on costs. Over the long-term, this could reduce the quality of education.

Option C proposes broadening the qualification requirements for short-term staff replacements. For example, by allowing primary teachers and/or Certificate III qualified educators to replace diploma qualified educators on a short-term basis.

This option would enable service providers to fill short-term absences beyond just Early Childhood Teachers with other suitably qualified staff. For example, having a Certificate III qualified educator fill the role of a diploma qualified educator for a short-term absence, or vice versa.

The benefits are:

·       Increased flexibility for services may result in fewer disruptions to children’s education if staff can be replaced more easily in the short-term.

·       This flexibility may help services adapt to future workforce challenges.

·       Providers may save on the cost of challenging recruitment and/or applying for a staffing waiver.

The negative impacts are:

·       Providers may be incentivised to replace educators with lower qualified staff to save on costs. Over the long-term, this could reduce the quality of education.

When considering the issue and the proposed options, some questions to think about include:

·       Is the proposed 80-day limitation reasonable for short-term absences?

·       And what would be the likely impacts, both positive and negative, of the proposed options?

Now Option D is for NSW only, and would allow Suitably Qualified Persons (SQPs) to be in attendance instead of a third or fourth ECT. This option would enable NSW services to use a Suitably Qualified Person in the place of the third Early Childhood Teacher for centre-based services with 60 or more children in attendance, or a fourth Early Childhood Teacher for services with 80 or more children in attendance. This option has been put forward as a way of addressing a shortfall in enrolments in early childhood education qualifications, coupled with a projected increase in the number of children in NSW. Any changes would apply all of the time that a 3rd or 4th ECT is required in NSW, not only during short term absences.

A Suitably Qualified Person can include: a person who holds an approved diploma-level qualification and has completed at least 50% of an approved early childhood teaching qualification that they are ‘actively working towards’; or a person who is registered as a primary or secondary school teacher and holds an ACECQA-approved diploma-level qualification or higher.

The benefits are:

·       This flexibility may help services adapt to future workforce challenges.

·       Cost savings for providers, which may improve affordability and accessibility of education and care for families

The negative impacts are:

·       There may be some impact on the quality of care if the replacement teacher has less experience with younger children.

Educators who are ‘actively working towards’ a qualification

The ‘actively working towards’ provision was introduced to allow flexibility in staffing arrangements, to alleviate the effect of workplace shortages on services. Workforce shortages may reduce the quality of education and care that children receive, limit the number of places that providers are able to offer, and impose an administrative burden on services due to regular recruiting or applying for a staffing waiver. However, there is no time limit associated with ‘actively working towards’ a qualification, and there are no specific requirements that staff must meet in order to be making ‘satisfactory’ progress through their course. Low qualification requirements may compromise educational outcomes for children (however the extent to which this would be the case is unquantified). Additionally, early childhood education and care qualifications include training on child safety best practice. Educators who have yet to complete this training may be less prepared to respond to and mitigate child safety risks.

Three options are presented to address this issue:

Option A is for no change.

The benefits are:

·       Lower barriers to entry make it easier for educators to start their careers.

·       Completing their qualification while working may provide on-the-job training benefits.

·       And providers have the flexibility to hire staff that are actively working towards their qualification. This helps to alleviate the impact of shortages.

The negative impacts are:

·       There may be staff working towards their qualification without completing. There may be implications for the quality of education and care, as well as child safety.

·       The reputation of the sector as professional may be impacted if the workforce is not qualified.

Option B proposes limiting the ‘actively working towards’ provision by either one of the following options:

B1 - Introducing a minimum proportion of educators with a completed qualification

The benefits for this are:

·       Educators who are still working towards their qualification can be supported by fully qualified colleagues.

·       And there may be benefits for the quality of children’s education and care.

The negative impacts are:

·       Providers are more limited in who they can hire, which may be costly and difficult due to workforce shortages.

·       Workforce shortages have a negative impact on the quality of children’s education and care.

Option B2 is introducing a timeframe in which the qualification must be completed in order to be counted in ratios.

The benefits are:

·       Providers still have the flexibility to hire from a larger pool of applicants.

·       Educators are encouraged to enter the workforce and to complete their qualification.

The negative impacts are:

·       There may be some cost to monitoring staff progression, and implications for workforce shortages if staff are unable to complete their qualification within the timeframe.

Option B3 is specifying a minimum level of progress an individual must make in a qualification in order to be counted in ratios.

The benefits are:

·       Providers still have the flexibility to hire from a larger pool of applicants.

·       And educators are encouraged to enter the workforce and to complete their qualification.

The negative impacts are:

·       There may be some cost to monitoring staff progression, and implications for workforce shortages if staff are unable to complete their qualification within the timeframe.

·       This would ensure continuity in progress through the qualification, encouraging completion of the qualification.

Option C proposes the development of guidance for providers to ensure staff who are ‘actively working towards’ qualifications are making satisfactory progress. This could include the provision of expected timeframes for completion or suggested procedures that assist providers in tracking the progress of staff members through their qualification.

The benefits are:

·       Providers would be assisted and supported to make sure staff are not actively working towards their qualification for an indefinite period of time.

The negative impacts are:

·       There may be some cost to governments for developing guidance materials, and to providers for monitoring staff progress.

When considering the issue and the proposed options, some questions to think about include:

·       Do you consider staff ‘actively working towards’ qualifications to be a significant issue, and would qualification requirements be beneficial?

·       And what would be the impact, both positive and negative, of the proposed options?

Minimum qualification requirements for educators in FDC

FDC educators may be “Actively Working Towards” a qualification whilst working as an educator.

In centre-based care, educators who are ‘actively working towards’ their qualification are supported by fully-qualified staff at the service. In the operating context of FDC, however, educators who are ‘actively working towards’ their qualification may not be supported by qualified colleagues on a day-to-day basis. FDC co-ordinators do provide some support, but are not required to be present at the service. Current requirements allow one co-ordinator for every 15 educators for the first 12 months of operation, and for every 25 educators thereafter.

Only a small percentage of FDC educators do not hold a qualification, so the impact of the ‘actively working towards’ provision affects a small proportion of services. Of these educators who do not hold a qualification, there is a risk that they are less familiar with child safety best practice.

There are four options presented to address this issue:

Option A is for no change.

The benefits are:

·       Lower barriers for FDC educators may improve the accessibility of FDC for families.

The negative impacts are:

·       Children may be at risk of harm due to FDC educators’ lack of awareness of child safety best practice.

Option B proposes the removal of the ‘actively working towards’ provisions for Family Day Care educators and require these educators to hold an approved certificate III qualification prior to commencing their role in a Family Day Care service.

This option would no longer allow educators in Family Day Care services to utilise the ‘actively working towards’ provision, requiring instead that educators in Family Day Care services have completed their qualification at minimum.

The benefits are:

·       The risk of harm to children would be reduced, and the quality of education would be improved.

The negative impacts are:

·       There may be an additional burden on qualified workforce supply.

·       And access to FDC may be impacted, particularly in rural and regional areas where workforce shortages are worse.

Option C proposes requiring educators in Family Day Care services to have completed at least an approved Certificate III qualification within 24 months of commencement in a Family Day Care educator role.

This option creates a timeframe in which educators in Family Day Care services must complete their qualification.

The benefits are:

·       FDC educators would still have the flexibility to work while studying for their qualification.

·       And educators would be encouraged to finish their qualification, which would likely improve quality.

The negative impacts are:

·       There would be some administrative burden to providers for ensuring FDC educators complete their qualification.

Option D proposes requiring educators in Family Day Care services who are ‘actively working towards’ their Certificate III qualification to have completed at least 50 percent of their qualification, including child protection elements, prior to commencing employment.

This option places a restriction on the ‘actively working toward’ provision whereby educators of Family Day Care services will be required to have completed a minimum of 50% of their qualification prior to commencement as an educator.

The benefits are:

·       The risk of harm to children would be reduced, and the quality of education would be improved.

·       FDC educators would still have the flexibility to work while studying for their qualification.

The negative impacts are:

·       There would be a barrier to employment for some educators, which may have an impact on availability of education and care.

When considering the issue and the proposed options, some questions to think about include:

·       What are the positive and negative impacts of the proposed options?

·       Do you see any workforce shortages in your area?

·       How should these shortages, if they exist, be addressed?

·       What problems do you foresee if services cannot access suitably qualified educators?

·       And by what do you think makes a person ‘suitably qualified’? 

OSHC

This video explores the following CRIS issues:

  • Assessment and rating of OSHC
  • Safety of children during transitions between services (including school)
  • Improving children’s safety during regular transportation
Outside School Hours Care

OSHC

There is one issue in this chapter.

OSHC services are assessed and rated in the same way as all other education and care services. However, feedback has been received that the same quality and rating assessment process may not be appropriate for this type of service. Because of the different needs of school-aged children, consideration of the assessment and rating methodology for OSHC services may be warranted.

Assessment and rating of OSHC services

Three options are presented to address this issue.

Option A is for no change.

The benefits are:

·       Business as usual.

The negative impacts are:

·       Quality of OSHC may not be captured accurately by the assessment and rating process.

·       A small proportion of services may receive lower quality ratings.

·       The cost of completing and submitting documents and information Regulatory Authority would remain.

Option B proposes modifying the assessment and rating methodology for services whose main purpose is providing education and care to children over preschool age.

This option would involve altering the current assessment and rating process for services providing school-aged care to ensure that the process recognises the different operational context for OSHC services compared with other centre-based services. One example of a modification could be exempting OSHC services from the requirements of Standard 1.3 as part of the assessment and rating process.

The benefits are:

·       OSHC quality may be measured more accurately.

·       Making the assessment process simpler may reduce the costs for services to align with the quality areas.

The negative impacts are:

·       There would be less consistency in the quality ratings across different service types.

·       There may be costs to governments for modifying the assessment and rating methodology.

·       Depending on the modified methodology, there may be increased costs to services for complying with the new assessment process.

Option C proposes the development of additional guidance to support the OSHC sector and Regulatory Authorities with assessment and rating.

It is important to note that these options for change could be implemented together or separately.

The benefits are:

·       OSHC providers would receive better support, which could enable more services to be rated more highly.

·       Improved OSHC quality could improve the education and care for children at the service.

·       Guidance for Regulatory Authorities could improve the way that OSHC is assessed, accounting for the distinct features of OSHC.

The negative impacts are:

·       There may be costs to governments for developing this guidance and delivering to the sector.

When considering your feedback regarding these changes, there are some questions you can reflect on:

·       What do you think the function of an OSHC service is?

·       Do you think OSHC services are mostly the same as other education and care services, or are they different, and in what way?

·       How would you measure the quality of an OSHC service – what things would you focus on?

Chapter 3: Safety, Health and Wellbeing

Also relevant to OSHC are two issues related to safety, health and wellbeing:

·       Safety of children during transitions between services

·       Improving children’s safety during regular transportation

Safety of children during transitions between services

Children often transition from one education and care service or educational setting (such as a school) to another. This is especially common between school and OSHC services.

There is an identified gap regarding duty of care for children during transition periods between schools and OSHC services.

It isn’t always clear whether the school or the early childhood service has a duty of care for children during transitions, which may put children at risk.

There are five options presented to address this issue in the CRIS.

These options are not mutually exclusive, and can be implemented together.

Option A is for no change, this means everything remains the same as it is today.

The benefits are:

·       Business as usual.

The negative impacts are:

·       Gap in knowledge about who holds the duty of care for children during transitions (either the school or the ECEC service).

·       Further incidents may occur which can impact on the emotional and physical wellbeing of children, families and service staff involved in the incident.

·       Incidents may also have a negative financial or operational impact on the OSHC service and potentially increase risks to other children, as workforce may be temporarily reallocated, or the session cancelled, to search for the child and complete incident reporting. Incidents may also result in reputational damage to the service, resulting in reduced enrolments in the service and potential prosecution.

·       Investigations into incidents may place burden on the service.

Option B proposes legislative change that would require services to supervise the transition period to or from the education and care service, such as an OSHC service.

The benefits are:

·       The service provider would be explicitly responsible for supervising children during transitions.

The negative impacts are:

·       Additional costs to the service provider for employing additional staff. This may flow on to families.

·       Workforce shortages continue, especially in rural, regional and remote (RRR) areas.

Option C proposes referring the option to state and territory school authorities for consideration, encouraging schools to give greater consideration to their role in the transition period to or from the education and care service. Collaboration between schools and education and care services would be encouraged to adequately address the gap in responsibility between the two settings.

The benefits are:

·       Improved collaboration between schools and ECEC services.

·       Schools can implement policies that best suit their operating context.

The negative impacts are:

·       Schools may need to dedicate staff to supervising children during transitions.

·       Ambiguity may remain, particularly for children attending education and care services outside of school grounds.

·       There may be variation in how schools implement these policies, with limited oversight over non-government or independent schools.

Option D proposes legislative change requiring services to develop a policy and procedures, including a risk assessment, specifically for this transition period.

The benefits are:

·       Services would have better awareness of how to safely manage transitions.

·       Risk assessments for the transition period would likely reduce the number of children missing or unaccounted for.

The negative impacts are:

·       There may be some cost to providers for developing these policies and procedures, as well as ensuring staff understand and implement these policies and procedures.

Option E would not mandate the development of policies and procedures, rather this option would provide services with guidance and support in putting in place effective policies and procedures to manage transitions.

The benefits are:

·       Improve support for service providers to manage transitions.

·       It may reduce the number of incorrectly reported incidents when a child is simply at home.

The negative impacts are:

·       This option will not be a requirement, so some services may not implement policies and procedures to improve safety during transitions, leaving children at risk.

When considering the issue and the proposed options, some questions to think about include:

·       What are the benefits and negative impacts for you?

·       Who should hold the responsibility for duty of care for children during transition periods between school and education and care services?

·       To what extent are children ‘at risk’ during this period?

·       How is this risk currently managed in practice?

·       How can this risk be further reduced?

Improving children’s safety during regular transportation

Transportation can present heightened risks to children’s safety, especially during the periods of transition between a vehicle and an education and care service premises. Risks are greater for very young children.

It is not clear how educator to child ratios should apply when transporting children, and whether the driver can be included.

This ambiguity may mean that children are not properly supervised while being transported by the service.

The consequences of leaving children unsupervised on transportation, particularly on hot days, can be fatal. There have been a number of fatalities relating to transportation during education and care in recent years.

The current NSW position on this issue requires educator to child ratios to be met when children are being transported as part of the service activity. The driver is not counted in ratios for the period of the transportation because they are not working directly with children, and as such do not meet the requirement of Regulation 122. Further, Approved Providers and supervisors need to ensure there is adequate supervision when children are being transported. Simply meeting the ratio requirements may not always mean there is adequate supervision.

Six options are presented to address this issue in the CRIS.

These options are not mutually exclusive, and can be implemented together.

Option A is for no change.

The benefits are:

·       Business as usual.

The negative impacts are:

·       Providers may be uncertain about requirement for transportation, which may result in children not being properly supervised.

Option B proposes legislative change to specify the transport ratio requirements services must adhere to when regularly transporting children. These ratios would allow the driver to be counted in the ratio calculation.

The benefits are:

·       When transporting larger groups of children, additional staff may reduce the risk of children being missing or unaccounted for during transportation.

·       There is flexibility for Family Day Care and smaller providers transporting a smaller number of children.

The negative impacts are:

·       There would be costs to providers for hiring additional staff where required.

·       Increased costs would likely result in fee increases.

·       Services may stop providing transportation due to higher costs which may reduce access to education and care for families who rely on transportation.

Option C proposes legislative change that would exempt services predominantly caring for school aged children from adhering to ratio requirements during periods of regular transportation.

This option considers the different levels of risk in the case of school age children as compared to children under school age. Despite this exemption, Approved Providers would still be required to consider factors that would pose a risk to children and ensure the adequate supervision of children and protection from harm and hazard at all times.

The benefits are:

·       Clarification for providers.

·       Accounts for the different needs and risks for children at school age.

There are no significant negative impacts.

Improving children’s safety during regular transportation (continued)

Option D proposes legislative change that would require a staff member to supervise the embarking and disembarking of children at the service premises. This staff member must not be the driver of the vehicle.

The benefits are:

·       Increases children’s safety when leaving and arriving at the service and reduces the likelihood of a child left on the vehicle.

The negative impacts are:

·       There would be costs to providers for hiring additional staff members where required.

·       Increased costs would likely result in fee increases.

·       Services may stop providing transportation due to higher costs which may reduce access to education and care for families who rely on transportation.

Option E proposes legislative change to require the Approved Provider to ensure that the driver of the vehicle who is not a member of staff holds a current and relevant approved qualifications, such as first aid, anaphylaxis and asthma. 

The benefits are:

·       Whoever is supervising children during transportation must hold basic qualifications to respond in an emergency. This would likely improve the response to an emergency situation.

The negative impacts are:

·       There may be some costs for drivers and/or services to ensure they have relevant qualifications.

Option F proposes the development of further guidance to support services in managing the risks presented by periods of transportation, without specifying additional requirements as part of the National Regulations.

This option acknowledges that there are various transport scenarios that may arise for a service and that the strategy employed to manage the risks associated are particular to the circumstances at the time.

The benefits are:

·       Help to mitigate risk during transportation.

·       Provide flexibility for service providers to tailor their policies and procedures.

The negative impacts are:

·       Costs to governments for developing guidance materials.

When considering this issue and the proposed options, some questions to think about include:

·       What are the benefits and negative impacts of the options?

·       What is the extent of the problem relating to the safety of children being transported by a service?

·       What are the likely impacts to services, families and staff members if the proposed options were to be adopted?

·       What administrative burden is associated with the proposed options?

·       Should limitations be placed on a service’s ability to transport children, and if so what limitations should apply?

·       Should the driver of the vehicle be expected to supervise children in addition to the responsibility of driving the vehicle?

·       Should staff involved in transportation hold any particular qualifications?

·       How can the risk of children being left unattended in vehicles be reduced?

Providing feedback

You can have your say on the Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (CRIS) by completing a survey or by sending a written submission, through the NQF Review website, before 30 April 2021. You can also ask a question directly to the NQF Review.

All feedback is valued, and the purpose of this consultation process is to seek a broad range of sector and family views on the impacts of the proposed options.

Frequently Asked Questions

Thank you for your questions during the NSW Information Session. We have collated Frequently Asked Questions below.

What issues is the NQF Review considering?

There are 21 issues in the NQF Review covering a wide range of areas in the National Quality Framework. These include:

  • safety, health and wellbeing
  • the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
  • family day care
  • OSHC
  • quality ratings
  • fees within the NQF system
  • oversight and governance of services and providers.

For more information on the issues under consideration, you can download the full Consultation Regulation Impact Statement or watch the videos summarising the issues on the NQF Review website.

What if I would like to submit feedback regarding an issue not being considered?

In early 2019, the NQF Review consulted with stakeholders to identify issues important to the sector and families. Feedback provided during this first round of consultations was used to develop the options detailed in the Consultation Regulation Impact Statement. While the first phase of consultations focused on identifying key issues, the main purpose of the current phase of consultations is to hear your thoughts on the proposed policy options and their potential impacts.

However, if you would like to provide feedback on an issue not in the CRIS, you are welcome to send a written submission, through the NQF Review website.

Where can I submit my feedback?

You can have your say on the Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (CRIS) by completing a survey or by sending a written submission, through the NQF Review website, before 30 April 2021.

Where do I find future updates?

All updates on activity related to the NQF Review will be released on the NQF Review website. You can also join the mailing list to receive notifications.

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