To operate an education and care service in NSW, you will need to obtain a provider approval and apply for a service approval. An education and care service is defined under Part 1, Section 5 of the National Law.
If you are an applicant for a provider or service approval, you must first determine which regulatory framework applies to the type of service you intend to operate..
In scope services are regulated under the National Quality Framework which includes the National Law and National Regulations. These service types include: Family Day Care, Long Day Care, Out of School Hours Care and Preschools.
Out of Scope services are regulated under the Children (Education and Care Services) Supplementary Provisions Act 2011 (NSW) and Children (Education and Care Services) Supplementary Provisions Regulation 2019 (NSW) these include Occasional Care, Mobile services and Multipurpose Aboriginal Children's Services (MACS)..
To operate an education and care service in NSW, you will need to hold a provider approval. A service approval authorises the approved provider to operate an education and care service under the National Law and National Regulations. For an approved provider to operate a service, the service must be approved.
Although a service approval application and/or an application to transfer an existing service may be submitted before the provider approval application has been finalised, these applications will be invalidated if the outcome of the provider application is refused.
Under the National Law and Regulations, the Department of Education, as the Regulatory Authority, has the following timelines for processing applications:
- 60 days to process a provider approval
- 90 days to process a service approval.
Processing of service approval applications commences from the date which all prescribed information is received and the application is validated (see the Service Approvals Policy Guide for document requirements). The Department aims to make a decision on all applications as soon as possible and within the above mentioned timeframes. However, the Department strongly urges applicants to factor in the maximum timeframe in their planning.
An existing service approval can be transferred between two approved providers under Division 3 of the National Law.
When assessing an approved provider's capability to operate an education and care service premises, the Regulatory Authority applies a risk-based approach to the approvals process (see supporting resources below). Part of this process may require the person(s) with management or control to attend an assessment session and/or interview with Department of Education staff.
Following receipt of all prescribed information and preliminary assessment of the service application, a pre-approval visit will be arranged to inspect the service premises. At this stage, all construction must be complete and the service must be ready and equipped to provide education and care.
Subject to the service approval process, the Department of Education, as the Regulatory Authority, may either grant or refuse an application for service approval under Section 48 of the National Law. If a service approval application is refused by the Department, the approved provider may seek an internal review of the decision within 14 days of being notified of the outcome.
A provider approval authorises a person or entity to operate an education and care service.
A service approval can only be issued to an approved provider.
Transfer of a service approval
An existing service approval can be transferred from one approved provider to another approved provider.
A visit conducted by authorised officers of the Department to the premises to inspect the proposed education and care service prior to an approval being considered.