Preschool age children at outside school hours care
Children preschool age or under can be educated and cared for in Out of School Hours Care (OSHC) or Vacation Care services
Determining the age of children at OSHC
The Education and Care Services National Regulations define a 'child preschool age or under' as a child who is under the age of 7 years and is not enrolled or registered at school, nor attending or due to attend school in the current calendar year (Reg 4).
If a child attends OSHC/Vacation Care in December and is enrolled to attend school in the following year, they are considered to be of “preschool age or under”.
If a child attends OSHC/Vacation Care in January of the same calendar year they will attend school, they meet the definition of “over preschool age”.
An OSHC service falls within the definition of centre-based care under the Education and Care Services Regulations (Reg 4) under the National Law. Centre-based services are approved to care for children of preschool age and under, as well as school-age children, subject to compliance with regulatory requirements.
All the regulatory requirements that relate to the education and care of preschool age children apply to an OSHC/Vacation Care service for children preschool age or under – except where there is a regulatory exemption.
Preschool age children under the National Quality Framework
What an Authorised Officer may look for and ask about
Educator to child ratio of 1:10 for children aged 36 months of age but less than 6 years of age (If children being educated and cared for at a centre-based service are of mixed ages, the required ratio is 1:10 (for children aged 36 months of age or over)
Note: From 1 October 2018 the Educator to child ratio for school age children is 1:15 - see Regulation 123(1)(d)
Attendance records for educators and children
The ages of children
Staff roster and timesheets
Plans and staffing arrangements for excursions
The number of educators to children
Immunisation and health plans
Plans for children with additional needs
Quality Area 1
National Quality Standard
Use of the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF)
Programs for the preschool age children using the EYLF
Educators able to discuss how they use EYLF to support their programming decisions
Developmentally and age appropriate resources and activities
Assessment of learning and development
Access to an Early Childhood Teacher (ECT)
For a child preschool age or under, the approved provider must ensure that there is documentation of assessments of the child’s developmental needs, interests, experiences and participation in the educational program; and assessments of the child’s progress against the outcomes of the educational program.
Assessments of children’s learning and development with reference to the EYLF proportionate to the period of time that the child is attending the service.
The cycle of planning
Evidence that children’s interests are included in the program
Sleep and rest facilities appropriate for age and developmental stages and individual needs
Sleep and rest policy and procedures
Sleep mats/soft furnishings and quiet spaces for rest
Programmed quiet activities/opportunities for rest
Supervision of sleeping children
Educators being responsive to tired children outside of routine rest times
Documentation from families regarding sleep and rest needs of individual children
Furniture, materials and equipment
Materials, furniture and equipment suitable for children preschool age and under
Age appropriate car restraints for transporting children on excursions.
Laundry and hygiene facilities and arrangements for dealing with soiled clothing and nappies
Laundry and hygiene policies, procedures and practises
Spare nappies, wipes and clothes for preschool aged children
Premises designed to facilitate supervision
Supervision policies and plans
Layout of equipment and furniture that enables supervision
Appropriate-sized furniture and age-appropriate activities
Risk assessments for areas of high risk, for example: bathrooms
Ratio and grouping considerations
There are exemptions to some regulatory requirements under the Education and Care Services National Regulations for services that primarily provide education and care to children over preschool age.
A centre-based service that primarily provides education and care to children over preschool age is exempt from the requirement to ensure that any outdoor space used by children at the service premises is enclosed by a fence or barrier that is of a height and design that children preschool age or under cannot go through, over or under it.
Nappy change facilities
Nappy changing facilities are not required by services that do not educate or care for children who wear nappies.
Access to or attendance of educators who are early childhood teachers at a centre-based service for the purposes of section 169 of the Law
The requirements for ECTs in Division 5 of the Regulations do not apply to a centre-based service if the main purpose of that service is to provide education and care to children over preschool age.
Health, safety and wellbeing of preschool age children
Services have responsibility to ensure the health safety, and wellbeing of each child attending the service.
Risk assessments may be particularly important for OSHC services that operate on primary school sites where the facilities are designed for primary school age children. The risk assessment should also consider any specific risks from preschool age children interacting with older school aged children.
Risk assessments are important tools for services in preventing potential harm to children and responding to incidents. Plans for managing identified risks are also important for services, to demonstrate to the Regulatory Authority how they ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of preschool age children.
OSHC or Vacation Care services providing education and care to preschool age children should consider:
- The suitability of programs, activities, spaces, excursion venues and transport for children’s varied ages, developmental stages, health conditions and abilities.
- The availability and accessibility of age-appropriate furniture, resources and equipment.
- The needs of younger children during transitions where they arrive, leave or move from one place to another place.
Adequate supervision of preschool aged children
Meeting minimum educator to child ratios alone may not always be sufficient to provide adequate supervision in an OSHC or Vacation Care service. Services should have policies and procedures in place to ensure adequate supervision.
Adequate supervision means that educators know the whereabouts of each child and can easily respond, particularly when a child is distressed or if circumstances arise where children could be potentially harmed. Approved providers should ensure the number and skill level of educators can meet the individual supervision needs of preschool age children.
If you require more information or have specific questions, please contact the department’s Information and Enquiries team.