Amendment of the Children (Education and Care Services) Supplementary Provisions Act
Mobile, Occasional Care, and Multifunctional Aboriginal Children’s Services (MACS) operating in New South Wales are regulated under the Children (Education and Care Services) Supplementary Provisions Act 2011 (the State Law).
In September 2018, changes were made to the Children (Education and Care Services) Supplementary Provisions Act 2011External link (Supplementary Provisions Act) and the Children (Education and Care Services) Supplementary Provisions RegulationExternal link (Supplementary Provisions Regulation) to bring standards into line with those for services regulated under the National Law.
The major changes include:
application of the State Law to mobile, occasional care and MACS services only
discontinuation of home-based care and shopping centre care as approved categories under the Act
- introduction of the requirement for mobile, occasional care and MAC services to participate in quality assessment and rating.
The amending legislation was assented on 27 September 2018 and commenced together with new regulations on 27 May 2019.
Services regulated under the Children (Education and Care Services) Supplementary Provisions Act 2011 can access the relevant forms on the Department’s Application and Notification Forms page.
Background for the amendments
The amendments are designed to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of children and to ensure the delivery of high quality early childhood education services, irrespective of the ECEC service setting.
The changes bring the regulatory standards and requirements for services regulated under the State Law into line with those regulated under the national system. The National Quality Framework (NQF) has been progressively updated since 2012 and has established a strong track record in promoting quality. The State Law now ‘mirrors’ the National Quality Framework with the same regulatory standards, requirements and quality benchmarks applying to mobiles, occasional care services and MACS.
Home-based and shopping centre care
From 27 September 2018, the Department has ceased accepting applications for home-based care. From 27 September 2018 to 31 October 2019, existing home-based carers have had the option to transition to Family Day Care (FDC), which provides a viable, flexible and quality service for many working families. The Department has allocated funding to provide transition support for home-based carers who choose to transition to FDC.
The Department continued to regulate home-based care services under the 2012 Regulation until 31 October 2019. After this date, all home-based care services ceased operation in NSW as a distinct service type.
Shopping centre care
Approval for care in shopping centres was introduced in 2011 to cater for an expected increase in applications for services in these settings, but the uptake was very low. Applicants instead sought approval as centre-based service providers under the National Law, which has the flexibility to sufficiently address any issues that may apply to services at these locations.
The Department now regulates all these services under the same regulatory framework to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of children and to ensure the delivery of high quality early childhood education services.
Mobile, Occasional care, Multifunctional Aboriginal Children’s Services (MACS)
Mobile services provide early learning opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable to families with young children who live in very remote and isolated parts of the State. Their business model - which can involve operating from a number of different locations each week – is unique and requires a distinctive regulatory approach.
Similarly, occasional care is based on a distinctive operating model that cannot be readily accommodated within the national system. Occasional care services provide an option for parents who may need incidental short-term care for their children – typically in unexpected, one-off or emergency situations. Large parts of the National Law are based on the assumption that children will attend a service on a regular basis, over a sustained period.
Multifunctional Aboriginal Children’s Services (MACS) are non-profit community-based services established to meet the social and development needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
Long day care is provided for children not yet attending school with each MACS providing at least one other form of childcare or activity, such as before and after school care (BASC), playgroups, nutrition programs and/or parenting programs based on local needs.
Commonwealth, State and Territory governments have agreed that the national system will continue to focus on the types of services that are relevant to the majority of working families – family day care, long day care and out of school hours care – and that States and Territories should continue to have the option of recognising and regulating other types of services that respond to a particular need in their jurisdiction.
Ongoing regulation under the Supplementary Provisions Act remains the best option for these service types.
Mobile, occasional care and MAC services are required to participate in Assessment and Rating on the same basis as services regulated under the National Law.
The process commences with each service self-assessing the quality of their current practice against the National Quality Standard and regulatory requirements and identifying areas for improvement on an ongoing basis. The service is required to document their continuous improvement process. A copy of NSW Self-Assessment Working Document is available on the Department’s website. During an assessment and rating cycle, the regulator assesses the service quality practice against the National Quality Standard.
Mobile occasional care and MAC services that are funded by the Australian Government are already required to have a Self-Assessment or Quality Improvement Plan. By aligning the Supplementary Provisions Act to the National Law, all services in NSW are required to prepare a Quality Improvement Plan. The process is designed to encourage a continuing focus on best practice and leads to an overall quality-rating for the service.
An assessment and rating pilot was conducted in 2018. Following a six month transition period after commencement of the amending legislation, more mobile and occasional care services have been assessed and rated under the amended Supplementary Provisions Act. The six month transition period was given to allow services time to take stock of their practices and to make any adjustments before they begin the process.
More information about the quality rating process and the rating standards is available from the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority
Venue Management Plans
The Department recognises that mobile services are a unique service type providing a valuable service particularly to remote and rural communities. Following sector consultations, venue management plans will remain for mobile services, and plans submitted by approved mobile services will be considered on their merits.
Support and advice for services
Services can access support during the transition. This includes face to face, telephone, email and online training to ensure services are comfortable in their knowledge of their requirements under the law, particularly around the Assessment and Rating process.
The Department will contact relevant services to provide details of the organisations delivering support and advise the next steps.
For any further information please contact the Directorate’s Information and Enquiries area on 1800 619 113 (toll free) and at firstname.lastname@example.org.