National Quality Framework changes
National Quality Framework changes
All services and providers will be aware of the Changes to the National Quality Framework (NQF) which came into effect on 1 October 2017 with amendments to the National Law and Regulations.
A revised National Quality Standard will be introduced on 1 February 2018.
The NQF applies to preschools, long day care, family day care and outside school hours care services in Australia.
The Australian, state and territory education Ministers agreed to the changes following a review of the existing agreement on the national quality agenda for early childhood education and care.
As the NSW Regulatory authority, the Department of Education will monitor and support the sector during the transition to the revised NQF, and can assist with answering questions as required.
While most changes are introduced nationally, there are some elements that apply differently in NSW, as outlined below.
For Outside School Hours Care Services:
Introduction of a staff to child ratio for Outside School hours Care (OSHC).
A national minimum educator to child ratio of 1:15 now applies for OSHC services providing education and care to children over preschool age.
NSW will have a 12 month transition period to prepare for this change, meaning that the 1:15 ratio for OSHC services will apply in NSW from 1 October 2018.
Changes to OSHC documentation requirements
Regulation 74 has been changed to clarify that NSW services providing education and care for children over preschool age are not required to keep documentation about each individual child's development. Services will now need to keep documentation about the development of the educational program.
For Family Day Care services:
Ratio of family day care coordinators to educators
A mandatory minimum co-ordinator to educator ratio applies to ensure FDC educators have adequate support. The statutory ratios apply to new FDC services.
The new Co-ordinator (full-time equivalent) to FDC educator ratios are:
- 1:15 for the first 12 months the service is operating
- 1:25 after the first 12 months of operation – if the Regulatory Authority does not impose any other ratio.
In NSW, a ratio of 1:15 applies to all new FDC services and will continue to apply after the first 12 months of operation.
Limit on number of educators in a Family Day Care service
Conditions imposed on FDC service approvals in all jurisdictions now specify the maximum number of educators who may be engaged or registered with that service. For all NSW FDC services, the maximum limit is 12 educators per FDC service. If a service is not operating with a limit on the number of educators, this will be required to be adjusted by 1 April 2018.
Assessment and Rating:
Quality Improvement Plans
The Department of Education will work with the sector so that services have time to transition existing Quality Improvement Plans to reflect the revised National Quality Standards.
Extension of transitional staffing and qualification provisions:
Several transitional provisions in the Education and Care Services National Regulations relating to staffing and qualifications arrangements have been extended, including for NSW:
- Regulation 239A – which relates to centre-based services in remote and very remote areas. A service may meet the NQF requirements for having an Early Childhood Teachers (ECT) if the service has access to an ECT at least 20% of the time.
- Regulation 242 – which relates to the definition of an ECT. This definition has been expanded to include a person who has completed 50% of the relevant qualification and is working towards completion of the course.
The above provisions, along with Regulations 240, 264 and 300, will be extended to 2020, with changes to appear in the Regulations later in 2017.
Further information regarding all the changes is available on the ACECQA website.