Educator-to child ratios in Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) services: An update
A staffing ratio requirement of 1 educator to every 15 children over preschool age in centre-based services commenced in NSW on 1 October 2018 (Reg 123).
Ratio requirements are specified to support the safety, health and well-being of children at services.
Guidance on the implementation of the ratio requirements for Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) services has been provided on the department’s website and via the e-newsletter Spotlight on Quality:
14 June 2018 – Spotlight on Quality Issue 2 - Unpacking the Educator-to-child ratios and adequate supervision requirements
30 August 2018 –Spotlight on Quality Issue 4 - Unpacking the key elements of transportation
17 September 2018 – Email to OSHC Providers with links to guidance on website: Children above preschool age at OSHC
Since the release of the Spotlight on Quality in August, we have received some requests for clarification of the new ratio requirements. To help reduce confusion, we have listened to sector feedback and clarified the guidance originally provided. Spotlight on Quality online has been updated to reflect this.
The information provided is:
- Only educators working directly with children can be included in educator-to-child ratios (Reg 13, Reg 122). This means an Educator on a scheduled break, undertaking administrative tasks or driving a vehicle cannot be counted in ratios as they are not directly engaged in providing education and care to the children.
- Educator-to-child ratios apply at all times that an education and care service is operating.
- Ratios do not have to be met in each individual vehicle and at the service premises, ratios are counted across the service.
This means that where a service has children under their care across different locations, including in transit, the number of educators required will be calculated by using the total number of children across the service.
In addition to meeting ratio requirements, adequate supervision must be maintained at all times. There has been no change to the adequate supervision requirements.
Meeting ratio requirements may not always mean there is adequate supervision. It depends on the circumstances.
Subject to an appropriate risk assessment, in circumstances where adequate supervision and appropriate passenger safety measures (eg seatbelts) can be demonstrated, a small number of children may be transported in a vehicle without an additional educator present, for example, a mini-van classified a car under a Class C licence that seats a maximum of 12 people (including the driver). Compliance with first aid requirements of Regulation 136 must be met in each vehicle.
In determining the best arrangements, to meet the requirements, services should consider:
- the number of children and age of children in the vehicle
- vehicle safety measures eg child restraints and seatbelts
- the ability of drivers to concentrate on safe driving, and any distractions eg noise
- the behaviour and activity of children
- health conditions that could cause an emergency in transit eg allergies, asthma, vomiting
- visibility of children
- ability to respond immediately to a risk or incident
- supervision of children when attending to vehicle breakdown or flat tyre
- communication with emergency services and/or other educators should extra assistance be required
- measures to ensure all children are accounted for when getting on and off the transport
- risks associated with route, traffic conditions, and length of time in transit
- Skills and experience of driver (driving skills and working with children)
Implementation support for OSHC services
OSHC services are essential, providing much needed flexible and convenient care to families.
The department appreciates that services and providers may need assistance in understanding the educator ratio guidance and what this means for them in practice.
For implementation support, services can contact:
- The Department’s Information and Enquires service on 1800 619 113 (toll free) or at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Services requiring additional time to embed new ratio compliance practices may apply to the Department of Education for a temporary waiver.