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”.

Regulatory requirements

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

Key Sections/Regulations

Description

What an Authorised Officer may look for and ask about

Reg 271

Reg 123(2)

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)

Reg 74

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

Reg 81

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

Reg 105

Furniture, materials and equipment

Materials, furniture and equipment suitable for children preschool age and under

Age appropriate car restraints for transporting children on excursions.

Reg 106

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

Lidded bins

Reg 115

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

Regulatory exemptions

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.

Section/Regulation

Description

Regulation 104

Fencing

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.

Section 112

Nappy change facilities

Nappy changing facilities are not required by services that do not educate or care for children who wear nappies.

Reg 129(2)

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.

Additional guidelines about staff ratios, definitions and managing staff movements are also available.

More information

If you require more information or have specific questions, please contact the department’s Information and Enquiries team.

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