Emergency notice

Out of School Hours Care (OSHC) Waiver Policy

The Government is investing $120 million into expanding Before and After School (BASC) Care to make places available to all parents with children at public primary schools by 2021.

OSHC services are regulated across Australia through the National Quality Framework (NQF), a consistent national system agreed by all states and territories. In NSW the Early Childhood Education Directorate in the Department of Education is responsible for regulation of early childhood education and care services under the NQF.

The Children (Education and Care Services) National Law prescribes minimum indoor and outdoor space requirements for all centre based services (including OSHC services). The current indoor space requirements of 3.25 square metres are a key barrier to expansion of these services in some schools.  To address this issue, the Regulatory Authority will consider applications for waivers from mandated requirements.

The new OSHC waiver policy will apply to school sites, recognising that OSHC services on school grounds operate in different circumstances than other centre-based education and care services in that they are purpose built for school aged children.

Applying for an OSHC indoor space waiver:

A waiver can be ongoing (service waiver) or temporary. A waiver allows a service to be taken to comply with a specified requirement or requirements of the National Regulations and an element or elements of the National Quality System.

To apply for a waiver, an OSHC service will need to submit an application to amend service approval to increase maximum numbers accompanied by an application for an indoor space waiver.

An approved provider may apply for a service waiver at the time of applying for a service approval, or at any time if they were approved prior to the introduction of the State Environmental Planning Policy (Educational Establishments and Child Care Facilities) 2017 and have subsequently undergone renovations which reduce their indoor or outdoor space.

In considering an application for a waiver, the Regulatory Authority will balance the community’s need for the service with the safety, health and well-being of children in care.

Frequently asked questions
What is the process for existing OSHC services? What documents are required to apply under this policy?

Existing OSHC providers will need to submit an application to amend service approval to increase maximum numbers accompanied by an application for an indoor space waiver.

The applications will need to be accompanied by:

  • Plans and calculations detailing indoor and outdoor space which must be certified by a building practitioner
  • SA12 Change to Premises (if new space is used)
  • Evidence of right to occupy (if new space is being used)
  • Evidence of demand
How will demand be demonstrated?

The Department will consider any evidence of demand provided. The onus to demonstrate demand is on the applicant. Examples may include waiting lists or letters from principals and parents...

Does the waiver application have to be submitted at the same time as an application to increase maximum numbers?

Yes. Applications for a space waiver should be accompanied by an application to increase maximum numbers.

What is the process for new OSHC services?

Two types of regulatory approval are required to provide an OSHC service: a provider approval and a service approval. A provider is the entity that operates the service and the NSW Regulatory Authority checks that it is 'fit and proper' to deliver care to young children in accordance with the Education and Care Services National Law and Regulations. Service approval allows an approved provider to deliver care at a specific site.

The approvals process is separate from any licensing or tendering processes conducted by the other parts of the Department of Education. The Regulatory Authority functions and powers are provided by the Education and Care Services National Law and Regulations. It only deals with the approved provider of the service and not with the owner or lessor of the site.

New services can apply for an indoor space waiver together with their service approval application.

Why has the Regulatory Authority decided to lower the space requirement?

The Regulatory Authority is not 'lowering space requirements'. Space requirements under the National Law and National Regulations still apply. The Regulatory Authority will, consider applications for waivers from the space requirements as allowed under the National Law and National Regulations.

In considering a waiver application, the Regulatory Authority will balance the community's needs with the safety, health and welfare of children in care.

The waiver policy will support the Government's commitment to increase before and after school care.

The Government is committed to expanding before and after school care to make places available to all parents with children at public primary schools by 2021.

Are OSHC services not on school sites or other types of education and care services eligible?

The new OSHC waiver policy will only apply for OSHC services on school sites, in recognition that OSHC services on school grounds operate in different circumstances than other centre-based education and care services, in that they are in purpose built facilities catering specifically for school aged children.

However, any service can apply for a waiver at any time. When considering a waiver application the Regulatory Authority will consider a range of factors including the community's need for the service while ensuring that the safety, health and wellbeing of children in care is not compromised.

Can a service that operates as an OSHC and Long Day Care apply for an indoor space waiver under this policy?

Any service can apply for a waiver at any time. When considering a waiver application the Regulatory Authority will consider a range of factors including the community's need for the service while ensuring that the safety, health and wellbeing of children in care is not compromised.

Does a service that was recently refused an indoor space waiver have to reapply? Will the fee have to be paid again?

Applicants who have recently been refused are invited to reapply under the new policy and the application fee will be waived.

Do I still need to meet outdoor space requirements?

Yes. All services must still provide 7 square metres per child of outdoor space to all children in care. Waivers will be considered for outdoor space in exceptional circumstances.

Will the waiver continue to apply if the OSHC service provides on-site vacation care?

Yes, the waiver will apply to Before and After School Care and on-site vacation care for school aged children.

Questions about the new waiver?

If you have any questions about the new waiver, which have not been covered in the  Frequently Asked Questions section, please contact our Information & Enquiries team by calling 1800 619 113 (toll free) or emailing: ececd@det.nsw.edu.au

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