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National Quality Framework frequently asked questions

If you have questions about the National Quality Framework (NQF), refer to the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority's (ACECQA) frequently asked questions External Link, Guide to the National Law and Regulations Adobe PDF document External Link, Guide to the National Quality Standard External Link, and information sheets External Link.

If you cannot find an answer to your question, you can search this page for Queensland-specific information, contact your local regional office External Link, or email us and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.

Please note, after you use the search function below, the keywords or terms you have used, if located on this page, will be highlighted in yellow.

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Overview

What is the National Quality Framework?

The National Quality Framework (NQF) is the legislation under which most long day care, family day care, outside school hours care, pre-Prep and kindergarten services are regulated.

It consists of the Education and Care Services National Law (National Law) External Link, the Education and Care Services National Regulations (National Regulations) External Link and the National Quality Standard External Link.

Read more about the NQF External Link

Support for services

Is there support for services having difficulties meeting the legislative requirements, especially those in rural or remote areas?

Approved providers of any service having difficulties meeting a prescribed physical environment requirement can apply for either a temporary (applies for up to 12 months) or a service (applies on an ongoing basis) waiver.

Services with waivers or exemptions under the transitional provisions must display the details of the waivers and/or exemptions on their premises.

The department's authorised officers will continue to work with services about the requirements.

Read all you need to know about waivers External Link

In/out-of-scope services

Can a service choose to be regulated under the NQF?

No. Services cannot "opt-in" or elect to be excluded from the NQF. The NQF applies to most long day care, family day care, outside school hours care, pre-Prep and kindergarten services. Read more about the NQF

Most services in Queensland not captured under the NQF are regulated under the Education and Care Services Act 2013 (ECS Act).

Some services are unregulated.

Provider approvals

Can an overseas resident gain provider approval?

If an application for provider approval is made by an individual, this person must reside in Australia.

In the case of an application made by a non-indidivual (i.e. a corporation) the principal office of the entity must be located in Australia (refer to section 11 of the National Law External Link).

Under a P&C-run outside school hours care service, is the approved provider the P&C president? What happens if a new president is elected?

The parents' and citizens' (P&C) association itself is the approved provider, not just the president of the P&C.

If any new executive committee members are elected, such as the president, vice-president, secretary or treasurer, the approved provider must notify the department of this change.

If the P&C Association is the approved provider, this does not mean that the school itself, or the principal of the school, is the approved provider.

Service approvals

What information must we display at the service?

Services must display at their premises the following information (refer to section 172 of the National Law and regulation 173 of the National Regulations):

How do centre based services get an amendment to get more approved places than their current capacities?

The approved provider may apply in writing to the department for an amendment to their service approval to increase the maximum number of children at the service.

The application must demonstrate the service's ability to comply with the relevant legislation and building standards and that outcomes for children will not be impacted.

The department may request relevant documentation to support the application, such as plans prepared by a building practitioner which identify sufficient space and facilities at the premises, staffing arrangements and verification from a local authority that amending the service approval to increase enrolments will not compromise any previous planning approvals.

Once all the information is received, the department has 60 days in which to make a decision on the application (see section 54(5) of the National Law External Link).

Can I apply for a waiver to meet the qualifications required of a certified supervisor?

No, the department cannot issue a waiver to a person so they can meet the qualifications required of a certified supervisor (refer to parts 4.3 and 4.4 of the National Regulations and related National Quality Standards for the staffing and physical requirements applicable for waivers).

However approved providers can nominate an educator as a certified supervisor if they are in one of the prescribed classes. Read more about supervisor certificates.

Supervisor certificates

Do I need to apply for an individual certified supervisor certificate?

Most people do not need to apply for a new certified supervisor certificate as the department has issued each approved education and care service a service supervisor certificate which enables the approved provider to determine who fulfils the role of certified supervisor at their service.

People must apply for an individual certified supervisor certificate if they wish to be the nominated supervisor at a new service which has not yet been issued a service approval.

Please note - a $30 application fee applies for an individual certified supervisor certificate.

You can apply online External Link or download the application form Adobe PDF document External Link to complete and send to the department. Read our contact details

The department has a legislative timeframe of 60 days to make a decision on a completed application. To help us process your application in a timely manner, download an applicant checklist Adobe PDF document(Word version) Microsoft® Word document to ensure you submit all the required documentation.

Quality Improvement Plan

What is a Quality Improvement Plan, who develops it and when?

The National Regulations External Link require each service, including the approved provider, nominated supervisor and educational leader, to prepare and maintain a Quality Improvement Plan that:

Services need to update their Quality Improvement Plan at least once a year, following the assessment and rating process or when directed by the department.

Engaging educators, assistants, families and children in shaping the Plan will keep it meaningful and guide the direction of the service.

Read more about Quality Improvement Plans External Link (includes links to a guide to developing a Quality Improvement Plan and a template you can use for your plan).

Watch a podcast containing tips for quality improvement (duration 14.24 minutes)

How should our service update the Quality Improvement Plan?

There is no need to create a new document each time. Updating an existing plan can show what you have achieved and what your service aims to accomplish.

When updating your plan, consider:

Read more about Quality Improvement Plans External Link (includes links to a guide to developing a Quality Improvement Plan and a template you can use for your plan).

Watch a podcast containing tips for quality improvement (duration 14.24 minutes)

Is there a size limit on the Quality Improvement Plan?

There is no size limit however your plan should be succinct and limited to areas identified for improvement.

Should the Quality Improvement Plan be electronic or printed, and can we show parents if they ask to see it?

The plan may be submitted to the department electronically or in hard copy.

A copy, either printed or electronic, should remain at the service and be readily available to authorised officers and parents.

Assessment and rating

How are services assessed and rated, and who does the assessment and rating?

Services are assessed and rated on their performance against each of the following 7 quality areas of the National Quality Standard (NQS):




Read more about ratings against the NQS

Authorised officers from the department's regional offices External Link assess and rate services in Queensland.

They must complete rigorous training and pass a national test to ensure they are equipped to conduct assessment visits and rate services consistently.

Read more about the assessment and ratings process External Link and preparing for assessment.

Is one quality area more important than another?

No. All the quality areas work together to reflect the service's practices and outcomes for children.

How can we prepare for our assessment visit?

Peak sector organisations External Link or your local regional office External Link can help your service prepare for assessment.

Read tips on preparing for assessment

When will our service be assessed and rated, and how often will we be reassessed?

Your service will receive approximately 5-8 weeks' notice of your assessment and rating visit. Visits are scheduled by authorised officers from the department's regional offices External Link.

Services that receive the overall rating of Significant Improvement Required or Working Towards National Quality Standard will be assessed more regularly.

The frequency of ongoing assessment visits is based on a principle of "earned autonomy", the higher the overall rating, the less frequently the service is assessed.

The assessment visit is only one part of the process of assessing and monitoring services. It is important services continually reflect on the quality of education and care being provided to ensure high quality outcomes for children.

Can I request that my service is assessed and rated earlier?

Assessment visits are scheduled by authorised officers from the department's regional office.

Contact your local regional office External Link to discuss timeframes for when your service may be assessed.

How can our service apply for an Excellent rating?

The Excellent rating is awarded by the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA).

Services rated Exceeding National Quality Standard can apply to ACECQA External Link for the Excellent rating.

What rating can our service expect?

Most services will be rated as Working Towards, Meeting or Exceeding National Quality Standard.

Services should look at their current practice and identify where improvements can be made. Read assessment and rating resources External Link

How is the overall rating calculated?

Services will receive a rating for each of the standards, 7 quality areas and 1 of the following overall ratings:

Rating levelHow the overall rating is determined
Significant Improvement Required
  • Service does not meet 1 of the 7 quality areas or a section of the legislation and there is an unacceptable risk to the safety, health and wellbeing of children.
  • The department will take immediate action to address issues.
Working Towards National Quality Standard
  • Service provides a safe education and care program.
  • Service has one or more areas identified for improvement.
Meeting National Quality Standard
  • Service meets the NQS.
  • Service provides quality education and care in all 7 quality areas.
Exceeding National Quality Standard
  • Service goes beyond the requirements of the NQS in at least 4 of the 7 quality areas.
Excellent
  • Service promotes exceptional education and care, demonstrates sector leadership and is committed to continually improving.
  • Awarded by the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority.
  • Services rated Exceeding National Quality Standard may choose to apply for this rating. Read more about the Excellent rating External Link (includes information on how to apply).

When are ratings published and do we need to display them?

Following the visit, the authorised officer will review what they have observed, discussed and sighted against each standard of the National Quality Standard and related regulatory requirements.

The authorised officer will then determine the rating for each of the 7 quality areas and the overall rating for the service and the service will receive a final assessment and rating report Adobe PDF document External Link and notice of ratings.

Watch a podcast to help you understand your assessment and rating report

Ratings of assessed services are published on the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority's External Link and MyChild External Link websites.

The service is required to display the notice of ratings, which they will receive from the department.

Will ratings be published if the approved provider has applied for a review of ratings?

An approved provider can apply to the department External Link to review the ratings External Link.

Approved providers are able to make minor adjustments to and give feedback on the draft assessment and rating report. This includes applying for a review of the final rating awarded. Read more about the minor adjustments policy and providing feedback

Ratings will not be published until the minor adjustments, feedback and review processes are finalised.

How can we explain the quality of our service to families if we don't have a quality rating?

Share your service's strengths and how the team is working to meet the quality standards if your service has not yet been assessed. Engaging families in the self-assessment process and review of the Quality Improvement Plan may be a good place to start.

Read more about the Quality Improvement Plan

Until your service is assessed and rated it is considered Provisional - Not Yet Assessed under the National Quality Framework. This rating must be displayed at the service.

You can use this rating template Microsoft® Word document to fill in your service's details.

Services accredited by the former National Child Care Accreditation Council may use the accreditation as a reference until the service is assessed and rated.

How do we know that all services are assessed and rated consistently and the process is nationally consistent?

The department's authorised officers must complete a national training program and pass a reliability test before they can assess and rate services. They are trained to assess services objectively and use nationally consistent processes for assigning ratings. They receive ongoing training to maintain their skill level and complete annual reliability testing. Read the Guide to Assessment and Rating for Regulatory Authorities Adobe PDF document External Link for more information.

Before the assessment and rating report is given to services, it is moderated by an early childhood manager or team leader from the department's regional office External Link.

The Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) External Link has an important role in guiding the implementation of the National Quality Framework and monitoring national consistency.

ACECQA's role in the assessment and rating process is to:

Regulatory authorities are represented on a series of national implementation groups. These groups monitor the implementation of the assessment and rating process within each state and territory. Issues are discussed and a national response is developed.

Educational program and practice

What are the national learning frameworks and supporting guidelines and do they apply to me?

Under the National Quality Standard External Link, there are two nationally approved learning frameworks outlining practices that support and promote children's learning from birth to 12 years old, and their transition to school:

Download the national learning frameworks External Link

Supporting guidelines

A number of learning guidelines have been developed which support and build on these frameworks, including:

The Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority offers an accreditation service for kindergarten guidelines they have not developed. Read a register of accredited kindergarten guidelines

Read more about learning frameworks and supporting guidelines Adobe PDF document

Is the Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guideline an approved learning framework under the National Quality Framework?

No. The Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guideline (QKLG) is a curriculum guideline for Queensland Government-approved kindergarten program providers and is aligned with and builds on the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF).

Under the National Quality Standard External Link, the EYLF is an approved learning framework. It is a requirement from 1 January 2012 for long day care, family day care and Kindergarten services catering for children aged from birth to school age to apply this framework.

Kindergarten programs funded under the Queensland Kindergarten Funding Scheme are required to use the QKLG, or another kindergarten guideline accredited by the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority to assist their implementation of the EYLF.

However, services will be assessed and rated against the principles, practices and outcomes in the EYLF.

Read more about approved early learning frameworks External Link

Which learning framework does a service with children both under and over 5 years of age need to apply?

Under the National Quality Standard External Link, there are two nationally approved learning frameworks outlining practices that support and promote children's learning from birth to 12 years old, and their transition to school:

Educators in services providing education and care to children both under school age and school age need to be familiar with and implementing both frameworks.

Both provide the blueprint to help educators meet the educational program and practice requirements under the NQS and related regulatory standards, which services will be rated against. The compatibility of the frameworks means it is not an onerous process to familiarise yourself with both.

Download the national learning frameworks External Link

We have some Prep-aged children attending our long day care service. Which learning framework applies to them?

Educators should consider both - the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and My Time, Our Place: Framework for School Age Care in Australia if delivering a program to children who could be attending Prep.

However, you are only required to use both frameworks if the children have started Prep. If children are eligible to attend Prep but are not yet enrolled or attending, the EYLF applies.

Read more about nationally approved learning frameworks.

Children's health and safety

What is considered a "serious incident"?

Approved Providers must notify the Regulatory Authority of any serious incidents that occur at the service at least within 24 hours of the incident, or the time at which the Approved Provider becomes aware of the incident.

Serious incidents are defined in regulation 12 of the National Regulations External Link.

A serious incident includes:

The Guide to the National Quality Standard External Link contains examples of managing serious injuries, illness and incidents, and a Further Reading section lists resources, such as Staying Healthy in Child Care (5th Edition).

Is there a list of what has to be included in a first-aid kit?

There is no specific list. Approved providers should consult with a reputable first aid organisation for advice.

What focus does the National Quality Framework place on child protection, training for child protection and reporting of concerns?

For reporting about serious incidents or complaints alleging harm or breaches of the law that are occurring or have occurred at an education and care service refer to the following FAQs on this page: What is considered a "serious incident"? and What is the process for notifying the department of a serious incident, complaint or other incident?

For concerns about harm to a child that is suspected to have occurred outside the service, approved providers and staff are not required to report concerns about child abuse to the Child Protection Agency or to the Queensland Police Service.

However if approved providers or staff have these concerns about children at their service they can make a report to the Child Protection Agency or the Queensland Police Service.

Under regulation 84 of the National Regulations, the approved provider must also ensure the nominated supervisor and staff members at the service are advised of the existence of the child protection law and any obligations they may have.

Queensland-based approved providers should refer to Queensland's Child Protection Act 1999 and/or contact the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Service for further information in relation to child protection matters.

Read about reporting suspected child harm or abuse

In Queensland services must also develop and implement a risk management strategy in accordance wih the requirements of the Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) Act 2000 (sections 171 and 172) and the Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) Regulation 2011 (regulation 3) that promote the well being of children.

Read more about child and youth risk management strategies External Link

Can we administer medication to children in our care?

Medicine must be administered from its original packaging, byfollowing either the doctor's instructions (if on a prescription) or the instructions on the package (refer to regulation 95). It cannot be administered from a container without an instructions label.

Also, medication must be administered in accordance with the parent's authorisation, which can be either written or verbal. However, verbal authorisation can only be used in an emergency.

Regulation 93

Regulation 93 allows that if the child is running a high fever and there is concern about the child's welfare but the service does not have written parental authorisation, the parent could be contacted for verbal authorisation to administer medicine. If the parent is not available and it is considered an emergency, contact should be made with emergency services or a medical practitioner for advice. Parents must be notified as soon as practicable.

There are special provisions for asthma and anaphylaxis emergencies to be treated without authorisation but parents and medical professionals must be notified as soon as possible (refer to Regulation 94).

What are the timeframes for notifying the department of a serious incident, complaint or other incident?

Approved providers are required to notify the regulatory authority of any serious incident, complaint or other incident (refer to Section 174 of the National Law). The timeframes for these notifications are set out in regulation 176 of the National Regulations and are as follows:

Type of notificationTimeframe for notification
Death of a child.As soon as practicable, but within 24 hours of the death or the time the notifier becomes aware of the death.
Any other serious incident.Within 24 hours of the incident or the time that the notifier becomes aware of the incident.

Complaints alleging that:

  • the safety, health or wellbeing of a child or children was or is being compromised while that child or children is or are being educated and cared for by the approved education and care service
  • this law has been contravened.
Within 24 hours of the complaint.
Any incident that requires the approved provider to close, or reduce the number of children attending, the education and care service for a period, or where the attendance of additional children is required because of an emergency.
Within 24 hours of the incident.

Any change to the hours and days of operation of the service.

Any circumstance arising at the service that poses a risk to the health, safety or wellbeing of a child or children attending the service.

Any change of address of approved provider, principal office or contact details of the approved provider.

Any appointment of receivers, liquidators or administrators to the approved provider, or any other matter affecting financial viability and the ongoing operation of the service.

Within 7 days of the relevant event, or within 7 days of the approved provider becoming aware of the relevant information.

To notify the department of a serious incident, complaint or other incident, download the relevant form from the ACECQA website External Link.

Complete the form, and scan and email it to the department's regional office External Link in your service's area.

Alternatively you can lodge your notification form via the NQA IT system External Link through the secure portal.

Make sure you phone the regional office to advise them of the incident or complaint and let them know the form has been/is being submitted. You must also post the original form to the regional office.

The incident or complaint should be accurately recorded as soon as possible, and the record kept and confidentially stored until the child is 25 years old.

For more information, including the types of incidents that need to be notified and the specified timeframes, read the Guide to the National Law and National Regulations Adobe PDF document External Link.

Can services provide emergency care?

The National Law allows a centre-based service to exceed the educator to child ratios at the service to include a child who is, or 2 or more children from the same family who are, educated and cared for at a centre-based service in an emergency for a period of not more than 2 consecutive days on which the service operates (see regulation 123(5)).

Examples:

  1. A child is determined to be in need of protection under a child protection order.
  2. The parent of a child needs urgent health care that prevents them caring for the child.

For family day care schemes, regulation 124(5) of the National Regulations External Link includes provision for a family day care service to approve a family day care educator to care for more than 7 children, or more than 4 children who are preschool age or under, at any one time, in exceptional circumstances.

In Queensland, transitional provision, regulation 305 applies in place of regulation 124 until 31 December 2015 and also includes provisions regarding care in exceptional circumstances.

What are my water safety responsibilities?

Approved providers and educators must be aware of their water safety responsibilities under the National Regulations and the National Quality Standard in addition to any Australian and Queensland standards, legislation or local planning requirements.

Approved providers of all service types must develop a policy on water safety, including safety during water-based activities (refer to regulation 168(2)(a)(iii)). For example, water safety may be a key consideration when developing a risk assessment for an excursion.

For family day care services the additional policy and procedure required relating to the assessment, approval or re assessment of a family day care residence or venue must include information to guide the consideration of the safety of any pool or water hazard at the family day care residence or venue (see Regulation 168(2)(a)).

Refer to the Guide to the National Quality Standard Adobe PDF document External Link and note the observations the regulatory authority may make during a service visit with regards to water safety. These are outlined in element 2.3.1, 2.3.2, and 7.3.5. Kidsafe Qld External Link contains information on best practice for children's safety and may be useful to inform your policy development.

All premises must be safe and suitable for providing education and care, and compliant with the requirements of relevant building legislation (e.g. the Building Code of Australia or the relevant version of MP5.4: Child Care Centres of the Queensland Development Code (QDC)).

All pool owners should be aware of pool regulation requirements usually administered by their local authority External Link. It is recommended that wading pools are assessed against Queensland's Pool Safety Laws External Link.

Can a family day care educator use their own pool as part of their educational program?

An approved provider may permit a family day care educator in Queensland to use their own pool as part of their educational program (subject to the assessment of the family day care residence or venue required under regulation 116), and noting the service must have a water safety policy (refer to regulation 26(l)). Educators should discuss any plan to use their pool with the approved provider/coordinator of the service.

Family day care services should also note the requriemetns with regard to water safety policies outlined in the qustion above.

Read more about pool regulation requirements External Link for pool owners in Queensland.

Excursions

Are there specific educator-to-child ratios for excursions?

Under the National Quality Framework, there are no specified educator to child ratios for excursions.

The National Regulations External Link require a risk assessment of each excursion and consideration of whether improved ratios are warranted for that circumstance (refer to regulation 101(2)(e) and 101(2)(f)).

When going on excursions (e.g. swimming) it is important to consider as part of the risk assessment what would constitute adequate supervision for this activity. Depending on the outcomes of this risk assessment, it may be decided that it is appropriate to have more educators in order to provide adequate supervision for the children.

What are the rules around regular outings?

A "regular outing", in relation to an education and care service, means a walk, drive or trip to and from a destination that the service visits regularly as part of its educational program; and where the circumstances relevant to the risk assessment are the same on each outing.

A "regular outing" such as a regular trip to a mobile library, requires:

Do we have to use a risk assessment template?

To support services, a risk assessment template can be found in the Guide to the Law and Regulations. Services do not have to follow this template and and can instead choose their own format. Refer to regulation 101 for required considerations such as the proposed route and destination, water hazards, number of children and adults.

Physical environment

What are the relevant building requirements for centre-based services?

New centre-based services must comply with the physical environment requirements contained within the National Regulations (regulations 103-115) and building standards contained within the Building Code of Australia (the BCA). A copy of the BCA can be purchased from the Australian Building Codes Board External Link.

New outside school hours care (OSHC) services must comply with the physical environment requirements contained in the National Regulations (103-117). The BCA does not apply to OSHC.

Services approved to operate under a former education and care services law are required to comply with the building standards applicable when the application for building approval (or building works) was originally lodged (see section 266 of the Building Act 1975 which precludes existing lawful buildings from having to be upgraded, subject to certain situations each time laws change).

These services are unable to alter the structure (or footprint) of their premise outside the constraints of the relevant version of the Queensland Development Code (unless an application for building approval is made).

Approved providers of all service types also need to consider Quality Area 3 - Physical Environment of the National Quality Standard (contained within Schedule 1 of the National Regulations).

Under the transitional provisions in the National Regulations, if the service was not required to comply with a similar requirement immediately before the National Law Adobe PDF document External Link commenced, regulation 104, 114 or 115 does not apply and the service is taken to comply for assessment and rating purposes until 31 December 2015, unless the service is renovated or the service approval is transferred.

In relation to major renovations requiring building approval, the building standards that apply are those which are current when the building approval application is lodged. This may mean undertaking a re-evaluation of the complex in its entirety to ensure compliance with current building standards and the National Law and Regulations.

The building certifier has discretion to apply the newer version of the building standards to the whole of the existing building if the certifier believes the proposed works would otherwise compromise the safety of the occupants or if the work exceeds 50% (by volume) of the original building (see section 81 of the Building Act 1975).

The design and layout of an early childhood education and care environment can have a significant impact on the delivery of programs and practices, and on issues such as supervision, ease of access to materials and resources, which may impact on a service's assessment and rating against the National Quality Standard External Link. Read more about building requirements

Are existing services able to apply to use veranda space as indoor space?

Existing services are required to comply with the building requirements at the time of the original certification (e.g. the Queensland Development Code (QDC)). The provision which allows for a veranda to be included as indoor space (regulation 107 (4) of the National Regulations External Link) is intended to apply to new (or substantially renovated) services.

However, from 1 January 2012, an approved provider of an existing service may still apply to the department to use regulation 107(4) allowing for a veranda to be included as indoor space. Approval of such an application is subject to evidence from a Building Practitioner (e.g. building certifier) which demonstrates that despite the use of the veranda, the premises still complies with the relevant building standards (i.e. the QDC) and that the safety, health and wellbeing of children will not be compromised.

In determining the application, the department may also take into consideration additional factors including (but not limited to) evidence by a Building Practitioner, the design and layout of the space to ensure that the space is adequate and usable by children, is protected from the elements, is functional to support the implementation of a program and is able to be supervised to ensure children's safety.

Are services required to meet the Australian Standards for soft fall areas?

Playgrounds have different areas for different uses. Hard paved areas are required for ball games and equipment with wheels, large open running areas are usually grassed, and soft surfaces are necessary under any equipment from which a child could fall.

Existing services

Existing services must comply with the building requirements at the time of certification (e.g. Queensland Development Code), including compliance with any Australian Standards referenced such as soft fall.

New services

Approved providers need to be able to demonstrate they are taking reasonable precautions to protect children being educated and cared for by the service from harm and from any hazard likely to cause injury through the use of appropriate impact absorbing materials (soft fall).

In order to minimise injury and/or risk of injury to children in playgrounds, approved providers need to demonstrate adherence to Australian Standards and Kidsafe - The Child Accident Prevention Foundation of Australia Guidelines (Kidsafe).

Kidsafe advocates the use of equipment that is appropriate to the age groups, abilities and disabilities of the children and eliminates unnecessary hazards through the inclusion of equipment and environments that comply with Australian Standards.

Approved providers need to consider what is acceptable impact absorbing material and should refer to the KidSafe External Link website for guidance.

Will our rating be affected if we can't provide a separate indoor space for children under 2 years in a room with children aged 15 months to 2.5 years?

Under National Law, services must ensure the safety of mobile and immobile toddlers and provide developmentally appropriate environments (refer to element 3.1.1 of the National Quality Standard). A separate space for children under 2 years old is one way to provide this. Assessments are focused on observed outcomes for children and if you can demonstrate an alternative way to ensure children's safety and quality education and care, your rating may not be affected.

It is recommended you discuss your individual circumstances with your local regional office External Link to make sure you are providing suitable spaces for children of all ages at your service.

Staffing arrangements

What is the difference between a certified supervisor, a nominated supervisor and an approved provider?

Certified supervisor

A certified supervisor is a "responsible person" who can be put in day-to-day charge of a service. Read more about what a responsible person is Adobe PDF document External Link

You may be nominated by the responsible approved provider or nominated supervisor at your service (using the service certified supervisor certificate).

Alternatively you may apply to the department as an individual (individual certified supervisor certificate), although this is not necessary if you are nominated under your service's supervisor certificate.

Read more about supervisor certificates, including how to become a certified supervisor and application forms.

A certified supervisor may consent to be a nominated supervisor.

Nominated supervisor

As part of an application for service approval, an approved provider must identify the nominated supervisor for the service and provide evidence of that person's consent to fill the role. Read more about nominated supervisors Adobe PDF document External Link, including their responsibilities and obligations under the National Law.

Approved provider

A person must first apply to obtain a provider approval, which is ongoing and recognised nationally, before they can apply for service approval to operate 1 or more services.

The approved provider is responsible for ensuring the service operates in accordance with the National Law.

Read more about provider approvals External Link, including application, declaration and notification forms.

Can a person be a nominated supervisor for more than one service?

The National Law Adobe PDF document External Link does not preclude a person from being the nominated supervisor for more than one service. However, the nominated supervisor has a range of responsibilities and obligations under the National Law and National Regulations External Link, some of which could potentially lead to a compliance action if the nominated supervisor fails to meet the relevant requirements. These responsibilities and obligations may be difficult to fulfill if the person is performing the role of nominated supervisor for numerous services. In addition, this may impact on the service's rating for quality area 7 (leadership and management) of the National Quality Standard External Link.

Read more about nominated supervisors Adobe PDF document External Link, including their responsibilities and obligations under the National Law.

Can two educators be the nominated supervisor at the same service?

No. It is not possible for two people to be the nominated supervisor of an approved service at the same time under the National Law.

The approved provider must nominate one person as nominated supervisor (see section 44 of the National Law). This is because nominated supervisors have particular responsibilities under the National Law and Regulations.

Read more about nominated supervisors Adobe PDF document External Link, including their responsibilities and obligations under the National Law.

The approved provider may wish to consider an alternative way of sharing the role of nominated supervisor, for example, one person could be the nominated supervisor for six months and then a second person could take the role for the following six months. The approved provider must advise the regulatory authority of the change by completing and submitting form NS02 Notification of change to nominated supervisor Adobe PDF document External Link.

When the nominated supervisor is not present, another responsible person, for example the approved provider or a certified supervisor, is required to be present and in day-to-day charge of the service.

Should a certified supervisor be placed in day-to-day charge of the service, the approved provider or nominated supervisor must designate the certified supervisor to be in day-to-day charge and the certified supervisor must consent to that in writing (see regulation 54). If the certified supervisor is to be placed in day-to-day charge on a regular basis, one written acceptance will suffice for up to 12 months.

However, it is important to note that a nominated supervisor is not relieved of their responsibilities under the National Law while a certified supervisor is placed in day-to-day charge. In these instances, the nominated supervisor's legal responsibilities will remain. Consequently, if the nominated supervisor is away for an extended period of time, the approved provider could consider changing their nominator supervisor for this period.

Should your service decide to share the nominated supervisor role (e.g. changing each six months), the approved provider can notify the department of the change.

Read more about notifications External Link, including forms.

How often can a certified supervisor be the responsible person placed in day-to-day charge?

The National Law Adobe PDF document External Link does not outline how regularly a certified supervisor can be the responsible person placed in day-to-day charge, only that each service requires a nominated supervisor and that at least one of the following persons must be present while a service is in operation:

The National Law Adobe PDF document External Link does not prevent a person from being the nominated supervisor for more than one service. However, the nominated supervisor has a range of responsibilities and obligations under the National Law and National Regulations External Link, some of which could potentially lead to a compliance action if the nominated supervisor fails to meet the relevant requirements. These responsibilities and obligations may be difficult to fulfil if the person is performing the role of nominated supervisor for numerous services.

Do certified supervisors need consent to be the nominated supervisor?

Yes. Under the National Law, approved providers are required to nominate a certified supervisor as the nominated supervisor and seek written consent from that individual for that nomination.

To change the nominated supervisor, an approved provider must get written consent from the new nominated supervisor and must give written notice to the department of the change.

Read more about notifications External Link, including forms.

Does an educational leader need to hold a formal qualification?

There are no set requirements for qualifications for educational leaders but they must hold a relevant qualification for an educator, as approved under regulation 137 of the National Regulations External Link. Read the list of educator qualifications External Link

It is the responsibility of the approved provider to ensure they deem a suitably qualified and experienced educator or individual to lead the development and implementation of educational programs in their service.

It is also important to clarify that an educational leader does not mean "early childhood teacher". While an early childhood teacher may be an ideal candidate to perform such a role, there may be other employees with several years experience who are also suitable (e.g. and Advanced Diploma graduate).

The Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority may, in time, determine suitable qualifications for the educational leader as part of its role in publishing approved qualifications.

Can an educational leader be appointed to multiple services?

The National Regulations do not limit the number of services an educational leader can be responsible for, however, the quality of the educational program may be compromised if an educational leader is working with multiple services. Compromised quality may be reflected in a service's assessment and rating level.

Read more about the role of the educational leader External Link

If a school child is only 5 years old, can they be allocated to the 1:12 educator to child ratio?

Under regulation 4 the National Regulations External Link, a child over preschool age is defined as a child who is enrolled or registered at a school (Prep onwards) and they attend, or will attend, the school in the same calendar year.

In Queensland, the educator to child ratio in a service catering only for children over preschool age is one educator to 15 children. Therefore, as long as the five year old child in question meets the definition in regulation 4 (of child over preschool age) of the National Regulations External Link, the 1:15 ratio can be applied to them. However, there is nothing preventing a service from having a better/lower ratio for a school aged child. In fact, it will help support a demonstration of quality.

If the educator educating and caring for that child is also educating and caring for a younger child, the ratio applicable to the youngest child would apply.

Educator-to-child ratios are not the only consideration in determining appropriate staffing in a service. Authorised officers will consider how the staffing arrangements in services meet regulations in relation to:

Do the National Regulations allow temporary staff absences in the educator to child ratio?

The National Regulations External Link include Queensland-specific provisions enabling services to allow staff to take short absences of 5 minutes, rest pauses and, in specified circumstances, rest periods (refer to regulations 308 to 317).

These provisions remain in place until 31 December 2019 for existing services.

At all times the overarching consideration must be the needs of the children and adequate supervision must be maintained at all times.

Can you clarify the rest period provision which states a volunteer can be counted as an educator where the service capacity is under 31 children?

During a rest period, services with fewer than 31 children are able to count 1 staff member or volunteer as an educator for every 3 educators included in the required educator to child ratio (refer to regulation 310 (3)).

The required educator to child ratios during a rest period relate to the ages of children being educated and cared for (refer to regulation 310(2)).

Regulation 311 requires the following additional staff members or volunteers to be present at the declared approved service premises during a rest period and be able to attend to children immediately (if required)

a. for a declared approved service with no more than 30 approved places - 1 staff member or volunteer
b. for a declared approved service with at least 31 but no more than 75 approved places - 2 staff members or volunteers
c. for a declared approved service with 76 or more approved places - 3 staff members or volunteers.

To meet the educator to child ratio during a rest period, the staff member or volunteer must be at least 17 years of age and hold or be working towards an approved certificate III level education and care qualification (refer to regulation 312).

Can the educational leader be someone who is not employed in the service?

The National Regulations External Link do not stipulate the educational leader must be employed at the service (refer to regulation 118).
However authorised officers visiting a service, for example, for an assessment or spot check, may wish to discuss the service program with the educational leader in person.

In that instance, it would be more convenient and time saving if the educational leader was present or at least easily contactable by phone.

Can an outside school hours care (OSHC) service employ educators under 18 years old?

Educators under the age of 18 can be included in the 1:15 ratio in an OSHC service, however regulation 120 of the National Regulations requires educators under the age of 18 to be supervised.

The approved provider of a centre-based service must ensure that any educator at the service who is under 18 years of age:

a. does not work alone at the service; and
b. is adequately supervised at all times by an educator who has attained the age of 18 years.

Under regulation 299(6) of the National Regulations all educators who are under 18 years of age must hold or be actively working towards at least a minimum 1 year qualification from the approved list of qualifications for educators working with children over preschool age for Queensland.

Can outside school hours care services have only one staff member physically present with children with an additional person readily available?

Under regulation 298 of the National Regulations External Link the minimum educator to child ratio for children over preschool age is one educator to 15 children. In Queensland, there are no provisions outlined in the National Law Adobe PDF document External Link that stipulate that there needs to be at least two educators present at the service.

Children must be supervised at all times with an educator to child ratio applicable to their age group. Regulation 122 of the National Regulations states an educator cannot be included in calculating the educator to child ratio of a centre-based service unless the educator is working directly with children at the service. Read more about educator-to-child ratios

Under the National Law, there are no longer maximum group sizes. However, it is important to remember when making decisions about educator to child ratios and groupings to give consideration to the impact of the ratios and the configuration of the service on the ability of the service to meet all other requirements of the National Law and National Regulations (including the National Quality Standard External Link), such as providing adequate supervision.

The minimum educator to child ratios, as outlined in division 3 of part 4.4 and division 2 and 3 of part 7.5 of the National Regulations, are calculated across the service - that is, the number of educators required is calculated based on all children in attendance at the service regardless of the room configuration.

What is the definition of an "educator"?

An "educator" as defined in section 5 of the National Law Adobe PDF document External Link means "an individual who provides education and care for children as part of an education and care service." For example, this includes staff working directly in contact with children.

Qualifications

Where can I find a list of approved qualifications under the National Law?

Qualifications, and the assessment of equivalent qualifications, is decided by the national authority, the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA).

Find the lists of approved qualifications and information on how to apply to have your qualifications assessed on the ACECQA website External Link.

Read more about qualification requirements

Do we need an early childhood teacher at our service?

Centre-based services with children under school age need to have access to a qualified early childhood teacher External Link or have one in attendance at the service.

These requirements vary based on the size of the service and operating hours (regulation 129 - 135).

Read more about qualifications for centre-based services with under school age children

If the main purpose of your service is to provide for school-age children, an early childhood teacher may not be required (egulation 129).

What are the qualification requirements for centre-based services with school age children (outside school hours care services)?

Read about qualification requirements for centre-based services with school age children (outside school hours care services).

What are the qualification requirements for family day care services?

The qualification requirements for family day care services are:

Read more about qualification requirements for family day care services

Ratios and groups

What are the regulations for groups and sizes for centre-based services?

Under the National Quality Framework, there are no prescribed maximum group sizes. Instead, the National Regulations set out educator to child ratios which apply to children of different age groups at a service level. While no maximum is prescribed, regulation 156 of the National Regulations includes an express requirement to ensure that grouping arrangements of children promote respectful and positive relationships with peers and adults. The grouping must also have regard to the age and composition of the groups.

It is also important to remember when making decisions about educator to child ratios and groupings to give consideration to the impact on the quality of the program and each of the seven quality areas outlined in the National Quality Standard.

The educator to child ratios are outlined below:

Centre-based ratios from 2012 to 2020

2012 - 2015Ratio2016 - 2017Ratio1 Jan 2018+Ratio
0-24 mths1:40-24 mths1:40-24 mths1:4
15-24 mths*1:515-24 mths1:5--
> 24-35 mths1:6> 24-35 mths1:5> 24-35 mths1:5
> 30-35 mths1:8
36 mths < 7 yrs1:1236 mths < school age1:1136 mths < school age1:11
4 yrs < 7 yrs1:13
4 yrs < 14 yrs1:12
School age**1:15School age**1:15School age**1:15

*Eligible services need to apply to continue using 1:5 ratio from 2012 until 2018.
**Means a child enrolled in schooling (Prep onwards) and attending anytime the same calendar year

Under the National Regulations External Link, the minimum educator to child ratios are calculated across the service that is, the number of educators required is calculated based on all children in attendance at the service regardless of the room configuration.

Read more about educator-to-child ratios and implications for Queensland services.

Can a service use the old 1:6 ratio for children aged 24 to 36 months (the old 2 to 3 years group) in a mixed age group or do they have to comply with the new 1:5 ratio for the 24 to 36 months in a mixed age group?

The 1:5 ratio for children aged 24 to 36 months does not commence until 2016. This is outlined in the Part 7 - Transitional arrangements for Queensland, which lists current ratios in place of those in the body of the National Regulations External Link until the end of 2015.

The ratio of 1:6 applies in Queensland services for children aged 24-36 months until 31 December 2015, as stated in regulation 301(2) of the National Regulations.

Queensland's specific 1:7 mixed aged group ratio no longer exists under the NQF.

Services catering for children of mixed ages need to ensure the relevant ratio for each child is maintained.

When calculating the ratio for individual educators, the ratio of the youngest child in their care applies, even if another educator is in that room or with a larger group of children and applying a different ratio. If spare capacity exists within the ratio of the youngest child in care, older children (from a different age group ratio) can be added. However, older children can only be added up to the limit of the youngest child's applicable ratio.

It is important to remember it is not only the ratios that need to be considered in the configuration of children across the service - the quality outcomes for children, adequate supervision, delivery of the program and the quality of interactions between children and staff are equally important.

Read more about educator to child ratios

Collaborative partnerships

Is a service always required to give parents access to their premises?

Services must permit parents of a child being educated and cared for to enter their premises unless this would pose a risk to the safety of the children or staff, or conflict with the educator's duties, or the parent is prohibited by a court order from having contact with the child (refer to regulation 157).

An educator may need to consider how best to allow a parent access to their child and the program without compromising supervision or safety. If the parent wishes to hold discussions with the educator, they could be advised of the best times to do so.When considering parents' access to the premises and the program, the collaborative partnerships with families requirements under the National Quality Standard should be kept in mind, including:

The principles of the Early Years Learning Framework also place a high value on partnerships with families, including how educators create a welcoming environment for all families and children.

Monitoring, enforcement and compliance

How is the appropriate compliance action determined?

The department, as the regulatory authority, uses a risk-based methodology which considers the "likelihood" and "consequence" of the non-compliance. The evidence is assessed based on:

The appropriate course of action will be based on the level of risk posed to children's health, safety and wellbeing.

Preference is given to those compliance actions that will assist the service to achieve compliance. In some cases, the department may choose to adopt a combination of actions, for example, issuing a compliance direction with additional monitoring of the service.

Wherever possible, the approved provider will have a right of reply to any proposed compliance action and time to become compliant before the action is finalised. However, if the service poses an immediate or unacceptable risk to the health, safety and wellbeing of children, the department may choose to exercise its power to take immediate formal compliance action.

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This page was last reviewed on 15 Jul 2015 at 01:47PM


Translation is provided by Google for your convenience. The department is not responsible for the accuracy of the translation. Readers should always refer to the English original as the source of information.

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