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 families with children at public primary schools by 2024.
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 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 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 Standard.
To apply for a waiver, an OSHC service will need to submit an application to amend service approval to increase maximum numbers (SA 03 - application for amendment of service approval), accompanied by an application for a service or temporary waiver (SA 08).
An approved provider may apply for a service waiver at the time of applying for a service approval.
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 a service 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 adding space)
- Evidence of right to occupy
- 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 families.
Does the waiver application have to be submitted at the same time as an application to increase maximum numbers?
Yes. Applications for a service waiver should be accompanied by an application to increase maximum numbers.
What is the process for new OSHC services?
A provider approval is required prior to submitting an application for a new service approval. A provider is the entity that operates the service and the NSW Regulatory Authority ensures that the provider is 'fit and proper' to deliver education and care to children in accordance with the Education and Care Services National Law and Regulations. A service approval allows an approved provider to deliver education and care at an aproved premise.
The approvals process is undertaken by the Regulatory Authority which 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.
New services can apply for a service 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 legislative space requirements 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 wellbeing of children in education and care services.
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 families with children at public primary schools by 2024.
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 a service 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.
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 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 OSHC 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: firstname.lastname@example.org