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National Quality Framework frequently asked questions

Early childhood education and care services have asked a number of questions about the National Quality Framework (NQF).

If your answer doesn't appear in the search results, email ecec@dete.qld.gov.au and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.

Alternatively, you can contact your local regional office or refer to the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) FAQs External Link for further information.

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National Quality Framework overview

The National Quality Framework (NQF) was introduced on 1 January 2012 to raise the quality and drive continuous improvement and consistency of early childhood education and care in Australia.

The NQF applies to long day care, family day care, outside school hours care, pre-Prep and kindergarten services.

Find out more about the NQF at the Australian Children s Education and Care Quality Authority External Link (ACECQA) website.

National Law and Regulations

The NQF includes a national legislative framework that consists of the Education and Care Services National Law (National Law) External Link and the Education and Care Services National Regulations (National Regulations) External Link.

The NQF applies to long day care, family day care, outside school hours care, pre-Prep and kindergarten services.

The National Regulations supports the legislation and provide detail on a range of operational requirements for education and care services.

Support for services

A range of resources have been developed to support service providers, educators and families to understand the requirements of the NQF. Ongoing communication through stakeholder forums and electronic/hard copy updates will ensure that service providers are kept informed and are supported during the implementation process.

Ongoing communication through stakeholder forums and electronic/hard copy updates will ensure that service providers are kept informed and are supported during the implementation process.

Regional Early Childhood Officers and Managers External Link are located throughout Queensland. Part of their role is to assist services to understand and implement the NQF.

Provisions are proposed for the Regulatory Authority to issue a service waiver or temporary waiver if a service provider is facing difficulty meeting the staffing or physical environment requirements under the National Quality Framework. The circumstances under which these provisions may apply are yet to be determined.

The National Quality Standard focuses on outcomes for children rather than prescribing inputs, giving services scope to adapt many aspects of service delivery to suit the local community, provided outcomes for children can be demonstrated.

The department will continue to work with services and those that are working towards reaching the National Quality Standard will receive greater support through more frequent assessment visits. The proposed assessment and rating process includes the requirement for services to undertake a self-assessment and develop a Quality Improvement Plan prior to an assessment visit. This is designed to assist services to focus on continuous improvement and make professional judgments about the way they operate.

Chapter 1 - Preliminary

In/out-of-scope services

No. There is no ability under the National Law Adobe PDF document External Link for services to 'opt-in' to being subject to the National Law Adobe PDF document External Link or excluded from it.

Services in Queensland excluded from the NQF that are currently licensed or regulated under the Education and Care Services Act 2013 (ECS Act).

Chapter 2 - Approvals and certificates

Provider approvals

Section 11 of the National Law Adobe PDF document External Link states that an application for Provider Approval made under section 10 must be made to the Regulatory Authority of the participating jurisdiction in which the applicant, or any of the applicants, ordinarily reside.

Section 11 also provides that where the applicant/s is not an individual (i.e. a corporation), an application must be made in the jurisdiction in which the principal office is located.

Therefore the individual must reside within Australia, or in the case of a corporation, the principal office must be located in Australia.

The Approved Provider will be the current licensee, which in this instance would be the P&C Association. When any members of the P&C Executive change, the new members must hold or apply for a Blue Card and the Regulatory Authority (the Department of Education, Training and Employment) must be notified within seven days (section 173 (1) (b) of the National Law Adobe PDF document External Link, and regulation 174 (2)(b) of the National Regulations External Link).

Section 23 of the Education and Care Services National Law (Queensland) Bill 2011 enables a person who becomes a member of the executive, and does not hold a current Blue Card, to be taken as fit and proper provided they have applied for one. This provides the necessary time for the person to make application for a Blue Card, if they do not hold one.

Service approvals

Section 172 of the National Law Adobe PDF document External Link and regulation 173 of the National Regulations External Link require the service to display:

  • the name of the Approved Provider, provider approval number and any conditions
  • the name of the service, the service approval number and any conditions
  • the name of the Nominated Supervisor or the prescribed class of persons to which the Nominated Supervisor belongs
  • the rating of the service (or display a notice that states Provisional - Not Yet Assessed under the NQF Microsoft® Word document and continue to display the accreditation rating by the National Childcare Accreditation Council (if applicable) until the service receives its first NQF rating).
  • details of any service waivers or temporary waivers held by the service
  • the hours and days of operation of the education and care service
  • the name and telephone number of the person at the education and care service to whom complaints may be addressed
  • the name and position of the responsible person in charge of the education and care service at any given time (excludes family day care)
  • the name of the educational leader at the service
  • the contact details of the Regulatory Authority
  • if applicable, a notice stating that a child who has been diagnosed as at risk of anaphylaxis is enrolled at the education and care service
  • if applicable, a notice of an occurrence of an infectious disease at the education and care service
  • information about the educational program (regulation 75)
  • if you provide food and beverages other than water, a weekly menu (regulation 80)
  • emergency and evacuation floor plan and instructions (regulation 97).

Only one service approval is required. The service approval will be issued in the jurisdiction in which the scheme is based. Therefore, if the office of the scheme is located in New South Wales, the service approval will be issued in New South Wales.

If that scheme has educators in Queensland and NSW, NSW will be responsible for the ongoing service approval and may either conduct the visits themselves or negotiate with the department if visits to educators are required over the Queensland border.

Section 32 (5) of the Child Care Act 2002 enables the licensed capacity of a service other than a school age care service to be set at more than 75 for stated periods, totalling not more than two hours each day.

For most services, this condition was transitioned across however individual service providers will have worked with regional staff to determine whether the condition should transition across. For example, a service may no longer need the condition as they are not providing or do not intend to provide care to school age children between 3 and 5 p.m. These conditions will form part of the service approval that will be issued to providers by 30 June 2012.

Under regulation 4 of the National Regulations External Link, the approved number of places in a centre based service means the maximum number of children who can be educated and cared for by the service at any one time.

The approved provider must ensure that for each child being educated and cared for, the premise has at least 7m of unencumbered outdoor space and 3m of unencumbered indoor space.

Existing services must continue to meet the requirements of the building legislation that applied when the service's premises were originally certified (i.e. the Queensland Development Code (QDC)).

From 1 January 2012, the approved provider of an existing service may apply in writing to the department for an amendment of their service approval. The approved provider must demonstrate an ability to maintain compliance with the relevant version of the QDC, and that outcomes for children will not be impacted. This application must be accompanied with any relevant documentation to support the application such as plans of the education and care service premises developed by a Building Practitioner (e.g. building certifier) that demonstrate the sufficient space at the service. Existing plans may be used if these meet the requirements to demonstrate sufficient space at the service. Once all the information is received, the department has 60 days in which to decide the application (see section 54(5) of the National Law Adobe PDF document External Link).

When a service approval is granted, the age range conditions applying to the service will be included on the approval.

If a service is able to take both preschool and school age children, the condition may read one of the following:

  • children from birth up to and including school children
  • children from 15 months up to and including school children
  • children from 24 months up to and including school children
  • children from 36 months up to and including school children.

If the service is able to take preschool age children only (not including school children), the condition may read one of the following:

  • children from birth up to and including over preschool age, not including school children
  • children from 15 months up to and including over preschool age, not including school children
  • children from 24 months up to and including over preschool age, not including school children
  • children from 36 months up to and including over preschool age, not including school children (eg for kindergartens.

For school aged care services, the condition will read:

  • children from over preschool age including school children.

Other age ranges may be considered if it relates to a legislative requirement that restricts the ages of the children able to attend.


Waivers

There may be situations where, despite the best intentions, services are unable to meet certain requirements in relation to physical environment or staffing arrangements, either on a permanent or temporary basis. For example, in a remote community where finding suitably qualified educators may be difficult, if a teacher leaves a service it may be difficult to find a replacement immediately.

In addition, there may be circumstances where services can demonstrate the ability to achieve the intended outcomes for children, via an alternative approach to a prescribed physical or staffing standard or regulation.

National policy is currently being developed to guide Regulatory Authorities in making consistent decisions regarding applications for waivers.

No, a waiver cannot be issued to an individual to meet the qualifications of a certified supervisor. Waivers are only applicable to the staffing and physical requirements in parts 4.3 and 4.4 of the National Regulations and related National Quality Standards.

However, following amendment of the National Regulations on 1 June 2014, approved providers have the flexibility to nominate an educator as a certified supervisor if they are in one of the prescribed classes. Read more about Supervisor Certificates.

Supervisor certificates

Chapter 3 - Assessment and rating

Quality Improvement Plan

The National Regulations External Link require each service, through a self-assessment process, to prepare and maintain a Quality Improvement Plan that:

  • assesses the quality of the service's practices against the National Quality Standard (NQS) and the National Regulations
  • identifies areas for improvement
  • contains a statement of philosophy of the service
  • is available to parents and the department
  • is submitted to the department within 3 weeks after being notified of the assessment and rating visit and on request.

Services need to update their Quality Improvement Plan at least once a year or after the assessment and rating process.

The management of the service, including the Approved Provider, Nominated Supervisor and educational leader should develop a Quality Improvement Plan that reflects the unique circumstances of the service and its community.

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

Services no longer need to send a copy of their QIP to the regulatory authority within 3 months of being granted service approval.

The approved provider of a new service must still complete a QIP within 3 months, and submit it to the regulatory authority on request (as required under regulation 31).

All services need to submit their Plan within 3 weeks of being notified of the assessment and rating visit and on request.

The National Regulations require each service to update their Plan at least once a year. Services are encouraged to keep the Plan up to date to demonstrate a commitment to continuous improvement.

There is no need to create a new document each time. Updating an existing Plan can show what you have achieved and what you aim to accomplish.
When updating your Plan, consider:

  • making it an agenda item for discussion at staff meetings
  • displaying the summary of quality areas, standards and elements of the National Quality Standard (NQS) on A3 card
  • encouraging suggestions about areas for improvement and document outcomes
  • committing to realistic actions which motivate people and plan in stages. Consider experience, knowledge, budget and resources
  • celebrating achievements, sharing them with families and acknowledging educator and staff contributions
  • making it available on computers and updating it regularly. Print out copies for easy access and referral
  • adding progress notes to show continuous improvement and a reminder of the distance travelled
  • seeking advice and sharing ideas with content experts, community members, professional development providers and other early childhood services
  • integrating feedback from the Authorised Officer and the assessment and rating report
  • workshopping the Plan regularly to reassess the big picture and identify emerging issues.
Download the Guide to Developing a Quality Improvement Plan Adobe PDF document External Link for more information.

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

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

A copy of the Plan should remain at the service and be readily available to Authorised Officers and parents. This can be printed or electronic.

Yes. Section 31 of the National Regulations External Link requires the approved provider to ensure that the Quality Improvement Plan is made available on request at the service office by parents of children who are enrolled or are seeking to enrol.

Assessment and rating process

All services will be assessed and rated against the National Quality Standard.

The National Quality Standard has 7 quality areas:

National Quality Standard areas

Services will be given a rating for each of the 7 quality areas above, and an overall rating. There are 5 rating levels:

  • Excellent
  • Exceeding National Quality Standard
  • Meeting National Quality Standard
  • Working Towards National Quality Standard
  • Significant Improvement Required
Ratings will be published on the ACECQA and My Child External Link websites. Services will be required to display their ratings.

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

Peak sector organisations and Professional Support Coordinators for Queensland External Link can help your service prepare for assessment.

Information and other useful resources are available from the ACECQA External Link and Early Childhood Australia External Link websites.

Contact your local regional office External Link for more information and support.

Queensland services will be assessed and rated by Authorised Officers from the department's regional offices Adobe PDF document[an error occurred while processing this directive].

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

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. Assessment visits are scheduled by Authorised Officers from the department's regional offices.

Assessment visits are scheduled by Authorised Officers from the department's regional offices Adobe PDF document[an error occurred while processing this directive].

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

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.

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

An Excellent service promotes exceptional education and care, demonstrates sector leadership and is committed to sustained excellent practice through continuous improvement.

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

Quality ratings

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

The new rating system raises the bar to a higher level. Your service will now be assessed against a new and more challenging scale. Before the NQF was introduced on 1 January 2012, many services were rated as good or high quality but now may appear to have a lower rating.

Services should look at their current practice and identify where improvements can be made. The following resources will support services in this process and to understand how the quality ratings are determined:

Services will be given a rating for each of the 7 quality areas of the National Quality Standard and an overall rating.

The overall rating is calculated based on the ratings across each quality area.

This table is for layout purposes only
Rating level How the overall rating is determined
Significant Improvement Required The service receives a rating of Significant Improvement Required for 1 or more quality areas.
Working Towards National Quality Standard The service receives a rating of Working Towards National Quality Standard for 1 or more quality areas (but does not receive any rating of Significant Improvement required).
Meets National Quality Standard

The service receives a rating of at least Meeting National Quality Standard in each quality area.

Service may receive a rating of Exceeding National Quality Standard in 1 or more quality areas, but not satisfy the requirements for Exceeding National Quality Standard.

Exceeds National Quality Standard

The service receives a rating of Exceeding National Quality Standard in all quality areas; or

  • Exceeding National Quality in at least 4 quality areas, including at least 2 of the following areas:
    • Quality Area 1 - Educational program and practice
    • Quality Area 5 - Relationships with children
    • Quality Area 6 - Collaborative partnerships with families and communities
    • Quality Area 7 - Leadership and service.
  • Meeting National Quality Standard for each other quality area.
Excellent Awarded by the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA). Services rated Exceeding National Quality Standard may choose to apply External Link.

Ratings of assessed services are published on the MyChild External Link and ACECQA External Link websites.

The service's rating for each of the 7 quality areas and overall rating will be published.

An Approved Provider can apply to the Regulatory Authority External Link to review the ratings External Link.

If you apply for a first tier review External Link, the ratings will not be published until the outcome of the review is finalised and the 14 day period to request a second tier review External Link has concluded.

Approved Providers need to apply to the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) for a second tier review and ratings will not be published until the review process is finalised.

Assessed services receive a notice of rating which includes the rating for each quality area and an overall rating. This notice must be displayed where visitors to the service can see it.

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.

Approved Providers can fill in the details of their service using this rating template Microsoft® Word document 51K.

If your service was accredited by the National Child Care Accreditation Council (NCAC) before the NQF was introduced on 1 January 2012, you must display the NCAC accreditation until your service is assessed and rated against the National Quality Standard.

It is important to help families understand what is involved in the new assessment and rating process and what the quality ratings mean. The department has developed resources which can be used to explain the NQF and the 7 quality areas of the National Quality Standard.

Share your service's strengths and how the team is working to meet the higher standards, even 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.

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

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. Refer to the Guide to Assessment and Rating for Regulatory Authorities Adobe PDF document External Link for more information.

In Queensland, before the assessment and rating report is given to services, they are moderated by an Early Childhood Manager or Team Leader from the department's regional offices Adobe PDF document.

Authorised Officers receive ongoing training to maintain their skill level and complete annual reliability testing.

The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) collected data from 491 services throughout Australia to evaluate the assessment and rating process.

The ACER evaluation report found:

  • the assessment and rating process accurately measures the quality of education and care
  • the ratings are valid and nationally consistent
  • a clear majority of services believe their rating and assessment experience was positive.

ACECQA and state and territory Regulatory Authorities (the department) will continue to monitor the consistency of the assessment and rating process.

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

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

  • ensure a nationally consistent approach in the assessment and rating of services
  • award the highest rating, Excellent, to services
  • publish the ratings of services on the ACECQA website
  • monitor and review the ratings of approved education and care services.

ACECQA has produced guides for Regulatory Authorities Adobe PDF document External Link on the assessment and rating process to help ensure national consistency.

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.

Chapter 4 - Operational requirements

Educational program and practice

Early childhood services must provide a program that aligns with an approved learning framework (the Early Years Learning Framework and the My Time, Our Place: framework for school age care in Australia External Link) to meet the new National Quality Standard (NQS).

The frameworks describe the principles, practice and outcomes essential to support and enhance young children's learning from birth to 12 years of age, as well as their transition to school. Long day care, family day care and kindergarten services will need to implement the Early Years Learning Framework, and services providing outside school hours care programs for school age children will be required to implement the My Time, Our Place framework, under Quality Area 1: Educational program and practice of the NQS.

The Educators' Guide to the Early Years Learning Framework for Australia External Link is designed to be used by educators in interactive ways to promote in-depth conversations and thinking about the concepts embedded in the Early Years Learning Framework.

In addition, a number of learning guidelines have been developed which support these frameworks including the Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guideline External Link, Foundations for Success (Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities) and other programs that may be approved by the Queensland Studies Authority (QSA). While services will be assessed against the Early Years Learning Framework as part of the NQS, these guidelines provide additional support and guidance for Queensland educators.

View the Learning frameworks fact sheet for more information and a list of services providing assistance with using the frameworks and guidelines.

No. The Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guideline (QKLG) is a curriculum guideline for Kindergarten and is aligned with and builds on the Early Years Learning Framework External Link (EYLF). Under the National Quality Standard External Link, the EYLF is an approved learning framework Adobe PDF document707K. 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 aged 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 Studies Authority for the kindergarten cohort, to assist their implementation of the EYLF. However, services will be assessed and rated against the principles, practices and outcomes in the EYLF.

The National Regulations External Link prescribe two approved learning frameworks:

The Early Years Learning Framework is for services catering for children from birth to prior to school age in long day care centres, family day care schemes and kindergarten services. My Time, Our Place is for school age children, whether they are attending an outside school hours care service, a family day care scheme or a long day care centre. The two frameworks are closely aligned and built around the same five learning outcomes.

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 National Quality Standard External Link 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.

A child is considered 'over preschool age' if enrolled to attend Prep or above any time from 1 January in the same calendar year. The educator to child ratio of 1:15 applies for this age cohort.

However, a child is not considered 'school aged' until attending school.

The National Law and Regulations requires services to use national approved learning frameworks - the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) Adobe PDF document External Link for children birth to 5 years (which encompasses the period where a child is commencing Prep), and My Time, Our Place: Framework for School Age Care in Australia (FCAC) Adobe PDF document External Link for children 6 to 12 years of age (Regulation 254).

Services providing education and care to children under school age and school aged need to be familiar with and implementing both frameworks. Both frameworks provide the blueprint to help educators meet the educational program and practice requirements under the National Quality Standard and related regulatory standards.

It is best practice to consider both - the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) Adobe PDF document External Link and My Time, Our Place: Framework for School Age Care in Australia (FCAC) Adobe PDF document External Link if you are providing a program to children who could be attending Prep.

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

Parents who are concerned their child is not yet ready to commence Prep may start their child a year later. View Education Queensland's policy External Link. In this case, it is appropriate for a child at long day care to participate in an Early Years Learning Framework - aligned education program until they commence Prep.

Children's health and safety

Serious incidents are defined in Regulation 12 of the National Regulations External Link as:

  1. the death of a child while being educated and cared for by a service, or following an incident while being educated and cared for by a service
  2. any incident involving injury or trauma to, or illness of, a child while being educated and cared for by an education and care service for which the attention of a registered medical practitioner or hospital was sought, or ought reasonably to have sought
  3. any incident where the attendance of emergency services at the service premises was sought, or ought reasonably to have been sought
  4. any circumstance where a child appears to be missing or to have been removed from the premises in a manner that contravenes the Regulations, or is mistakenly locked in or locked out of the service premises or any part of the premises.

Section 12(b) of the National Law Adobe PDF document External Link, the definition states 'any incident involving illness of a child'. The illness must be related to the incident and vice versa, or the illness must be of sufficient seriousness to warrant the attention of a registered medical practitioner, or the child attended, or ought to have attended, a hospital. The intention of the definition is to capture serious matters relating to incidents at education and care services which cause harm to children and serious illnesses suffered by children while in an education and care service.

If a child exhibits symptoms of an illness following an incident at an education and care service, this is reportable. Likewise, if a child exhibits symptoms of an illness which is communicable and serious, or potentially life-threatening, this represents an incident involving an illness and is reportable.

The National Quality Standard External Link also provides guidance on managing injuries, illness and incidents, as follows:

2.1.4 Steps are taken to control the spread of infectious diseases and to manage injuries and illness, in accordance with recognised guidelines

2.3.3 Plans to effectively manage incidents and emergencies are developed in consultation with relevant authorities, practised and implemented.

Services should research recognised guidelines and consult with relevant authorities for guidance on the management of serious injuries, illness and incidents. The Guide to the National Quality Standard Adobe PDF document External Link contains examples of practice, and a Further Reading section with some key resources, such as Staying Healthy in Child Care (4th Edition). Note that a new edition titled Staying Healthy in Early Childhood Education and Care: Preventing infectious diseases in education and care services is expected to be available in 2012.

There is no specific list provided, rather services need to identify the appropriate provisions for the individual needs of their service. Services can contact a reputable first aid organisation such as St John's Ambulance Service for advice on what is appropriate to include.

Under regulation 84 of the National Regulations, the Approved Provider must ensure the Nominated Supervisor and staff members 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 for further information in relation to child protection matters. There is a department of Communities site which provides broad information on reporting to Child Safety Services. At November 2011, early childhood education and care educators are not 'obligated' or mandated reporters in Queensland.

Regulation 93 of the National Regulation Adobe PDF document External Link states medicine must be administered from its original packaging and following either the doctor's instructions (if on a prescription) or the instructions on the package. It cannot be administered from a container with no instructions on it.

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.

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

Special provisions (regulation 94 of the National Regulation Adobe PDF document External Link) exist for asthma and anaphylaxis emergencies to be treated without authorisation, but parents and medical professionals must be notified as soon as possible.

The National Law Adobe PDF document External Link does not require permission to be sought, however services need to consider relevant privacy legislation to develop a policy on this issue.

Section 263 of the National Law states that the Commonwealth Privacy Act (Privacy Act 1988) applies as a law of a participating jurisdiction for the purposes of the National Quality Framework. The National Law does not explicitly contain any requirement for education and care services to obtain a parent's permission prior to displaying a photograph of a child.

If an individual's identity is apparent (or can reasonably be ascertained) from a photograph, then the collection, use and disclosure of the image is governed by the Privacy Act 1988, and the Information Privacy Principles must be considered when handling identifying photographs. Best practice in line with these Principles may include seeking parental consent.

In these circumstances, a service should refer to relevant privacy legislation to develop a policy on this issue. The Australian Privacy Commissioner's website External Link may be of use for this purpose.

Section 174 of the National Law requires approved providers to notify the regulatory authority of any serious incident, complaint or other incident at an approved education and care service. The timeframes for these notifications are set out in regulation 176 of the National Regulations and are as follows:

Contact the Early Childhood Information Service - table is for display purposes only

Type of Notification

Timeframe 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

Within 24 hours of the incident

Any circumstance arising at the service that poses a risk to the health, safety or wellbeing of a child or children attending 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 regulatory authority, download SI01 Notification of serious incident Adobe PDF document External Link or NL01 Notification of complaints or incidents (other than serious incidents) Adobe PDF document External Link from the ACECQA website. This form is to be completed and scanned and emailed to the regulatory authority, with the original to be posted. It is best practice to immediately notify the regulatory authority (regional office Adobe PDF document[an error occurred while processing this directive]) by phone that the incident has occurred and the form is being submitted.

The serious incident, complaint or other incident 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 on notification of serious incidents, refer to page 112 of the Guide to the National Law and National Regulations Adobe PDF document External Link.

To read the legislation relating notifications, refer to section 174 of the National Law Adobe PDF document External Link and regulations 12, 175 and 176 of the National Regulations External Link.

There are no provisions included in the national legislation enabling centre-based services to provide emergency care as previously defined under the Child Care Act 2002. Individual centres may wish to discuss with their local regional office their individual needs, and any plans to increase their maximum capacity.

For family day care schemes, regulation 124 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.

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

Regulation 168 (2)(a)(iii) of the National Regulations requires approved providers of all service types to develop a policy on water safety, including safety during water-based activities. For example, water safety may be a key consideration when developing a risk assessment for an excursion.

A family day care educator in Queensland may be permitted to use their own pool as part of their educational programs under the National Regulations External Link however the family day care service must have a water safety policy in place, as stated in Regulation 26(m) of the National Regulations. Family day care educators should discuss any plan to use their pool with the coordinator of the family day care service.

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 is a useful resource to find 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 the provision of education and care and compliant with the requirements within the relevant version of MP5.4: Child Care Centres of the Queensland Development Code (QDC). All Queensland pool owners should be aware of pool regulation requirements External Link and it is recommended that wading pools are assessed against Queensland's Pool Safety Laws External Link.

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 (see regulation 101(2)(e) and 101(2)(f) of the National Regulations External Link). When going on excursions (e.g. swimming) it is very 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 to provide adequate supervision for the children.

A 'regular outing', such as a regular trip to a mobile library, requires the following:

  • A risk assessment to be conducted (see regulation 100 of the National Regulations) and updated annually.
  • If the excursion is a regular outing and a risk assessment has previously been conducted, a further risk assessment is not required each time the excursion is undertaken unless the circumstances of the outing have changed.
  • Written authorisation to be obtained from a parent or guardian every 12 months which states all of the following (see regulation 102(4) of the National Regulations):
    • the child's name
    • the reason the child is to be taken outside the premises
    • a description of the proposed destination for the excursion
    • the method of transport to be used for the excursion
    • the proposed activities to be undertaken by the child during the excursion
    • the period the child will be away from the premises
    • the anticipated number of children likely to be attending the excursion
    • the anticipated ratio of educators attending the excursion to the anticipated number of children attending the excursion
    • the anticipated number of staff members and any other adults who will accompany and supervise the children on the excursion
    • that a risk assessment has been prepared and is available at the service

A risk assessment template can be found in the Guide to the Law and Regulations Adobe PDF document External Link available on the ACECQA website External Link. However, services do not have to follow this and can choose their own format. Refer to regulation 101 of the National Regulations External Link for required considerations such as the proposed route and destination, water hazards, number of children and adults.

Physical environment

Section 266 of the Building Act 1975, precludes an existing lawful building from having to be upgraded (subject to certain situations) every time laws change. This means that the application of new building standards is not retrospective.

In practice, this means that an existing education and care service must maintain compliance with the building standards applicable when the application for building approval (or building works) was originally lodged. This means compliance with the relevant version of the Queensland Development Code.

Existing services will also need to meet the physical environment requirements contained in the National Regulations External Link (Part 4.3 - Physical environment). However, under the transitional provisions in the National Regulations External Link, if the service was not required to comply with a similar requirement immediately prior to the commencement of the National Law Adobe PDF document External Link, 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 which would require 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 Adobe PDF document External Link and National Regulations External Link. 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 that 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 education and care 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. Refer to the National Quality Framework Building requirements page for more information.

A service does not need to install an additional nappy change facility specifically for this group from 1 January 2012. However, if the service provides education and care to any child wearing a nappy, regardless of age, it will need to have at least one nappy change facility accessible in the service in accordance with Regulation 112 of the National Regulations.

From 1 January 2012, the Approved Provider needs to continue to meet their Queensland Development Code requirements and those outlined in Regulation 112 of the National Regulations External Link. If this service has existing nappy change facilities in the centre they will be sufficient for the purposes of Regulation 112 provided the Approved Provider can demonstrate they are adequate and hygienically appropriate, and meet the following requirements of Regulation 112:

  • are 'properly constructed';
  • are designed, located and maintained in a way that prevents unsupervised access; and
  • have hand cleaning facilities in the immediate vicinity of nappy change area.

The Approved Provider would need to demonstrate that any new or existing nappy change facility was 'properly constructed'. The Approved Provider would also need to be mindful that any significant renovation may mean the service needs to adhere to the latest version of the Queensland Development Code, which does require prescribed nappy change facilities. From May 2012 the Building Code of Australia may apply in relation to renovations in services.

Regulation 113 of the National Regulations External Link requires that the approved provider of a centre-based service must ensure that the outdoor spaces provided at the education and care service premises allow children to explore and experience the natural environment.

Soft fall mats can be used in a service, in conjunction with natural environment features such as trees, sand, mud and natural vegetation.

In assessing a service's physical environment, authorised officers will be considering the natural features and safety provisions within the playground and how these contribute to implementing the educational program and promoting children's learning and developmental needs.

Existing services are required to maintain compliance with the building requirements in place 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 from May 2012 when the new Building Code of Australia is introduced.

However, from 1 January 2012, an approved provider of an existing service may still apply to the department to utilise regulation 107(4) allowing for a veranda to be included as indoor space. Approval of such an application would be subject to evidence from a Building Practitioner (e.g. building certifier) which demonstrates that despite the use of the veranda, the premise still complies with the relevant building standards (i.e. the QDC). In determining the application, the department may also take into consideration additional factors including (but not limited to) 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.

Playgrounds have different areas for different uses. Hard paved areas are required for ball games and 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 are required to maintain compliance with the building requirements in place 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 that 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 advocate the use of equipment that is appropriate to the age groups, abilities and disabilities of the children, that eliminate unnecessary hazards, through the inclusion of equipment and environments that comply with Australian Standards. There should be a soft surface under all equipment. In addition, any equipment available for use by children in an early childhood education and care service, with a fall height over 500mm should have a tested impact-absorbing surface under and around it to help prevent serious head injuries.

The surface should comply with Australian/New Zealand Standard 4422:1996 Playground surfacing - Specifications, requirements and test materials. In order to demonstrate that the supplier of the surfacing material can provide approved providers with confirmation that the surface they have supplied will absorb an impact from the fall height determine for equipment.

Approved providers need to consider what is acceptable impact absorbing material and should refer to the KidSafe External Link website for guidance. Asphalt and concrete are unacceptable soft fall surfaces for use under play equipment because they do not have any cushioning properties. Similarly, grass cannot be relied upon to provide protection for equipment over 500mm, as its ability to cushion a fall depends on wear and environmental conditions. There is no one ideal impact absorbing surface, and the choice will depend on a variety of considerations including the type of equipment being used, the fall height, geographical and climatic conditions and maintenance. The two main types of materials are loose fill (such as bark, woodchip or sand) and unitary, or solid, materials (rubber or synthetic compounds).

Yes. Regulation 117 of the National Regulations External Link applies for all family day care services as follows:

117 Glass

  1. The approved provider of a family day care service must ensure that any glazed area of a residence or approved family day care venue of the service complies with subregulation (2) if the area:
    • is accessible to children, and
    • is 0.75 metres or less above floor level.
  2. The glazed area must be:
    • glazed with safety glass, if the Building Code of Australia requires this, or
    • in any other case -
      • treated with a product that prevents glass from shattering if broken, or
      • guarded by barriers that prevent a child from striking or falling against the glass.

However, family day care approved providers are eligible to seek a service or temporary waiver to meet the requirements of regulation 117.

Applications for waivers can be made to the Department of Education, Training and Employment and include prescribed information from regulation 42 and 45, such as the following:

  • Reasons the service does not or will not comply with regulation 117.
  • Details and evidence of any attempts made to comply with regulation 117.
  • Details of steps that are being or will be taken in order to comply with regulation 117.
  • Measures being taken or to be taken to protect the wellbeing of children being educated and cared for while the waiver is in place.

Approved providers must be mindful that the department may refuse an application for waiver, and that if a waiver is granted it may impact on the rating of their service against the National Quality Standard External Link.

A family day care educator in Queensland may be permitted to use their own pool as part of their educational programs under the National Regulations External Link; however the family day care service must have a water safety policy in place, as stated in regulation 26(m). Family day care educators should discuss any plan to use their pool with the coordinator of the family day care service.

All Queensland pool owners should be aware of pool regulation requirements External Link.

Element 3.1.1 of the National Quality Standard External Link - Outdoor and indoor spaces, building, furniture, equipment, facilities and resources are suitable for their purpose - is designed to ensure the safety of mobile and immobile children in the toddler years and provide developmentally appropriate environments. A separate space for children under 2 years is one way to provide this.

Assessments against this element will be focused on observed outcomes for children, and if you can demonstrate alternative means 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 early childhood regional office External Link in order to provide suitable spaces for children of all ages at your service.

Staffing arrangements

Section 162 of the National Law Adobe PDF document External Link requires that the Approved Provider must ensure that a responsible person is present at all times the service is educating and caring for children. The responsible person can be either:

  • the Approved Provider - if the Approved Provider is an individual - in any other case, a person with management or control of the service
  • the Nominated Supervisor
  • a Certified Supervisor who has been placed in day to day charge of the service.

A Certified Supervisor is an educator who has been granted a supervisor certificate.

A Certified Supervisor can be placed in day-to-day charge of a service if the Nominated Supervisor or Approved Provider is absent, but will not have the same legal obligations as the Nominated Supervisor.

There is no limit to the number of Certified Supervisors in a service.

The Nominated Supervisor:

  1. Is a Certified Supervisor
  2. Has been nominated by the Approved Provider to be the Nominated Supervisor of the service
  3. Has consented to be the Nominated Supervisor
  4. Has a range of responsibilities and obligations under the National Law Adobe PDF document External Link and National Regulations External Link.

There is one Nominated Supervisor per service.

Approved Providers are approved to operate an education and care service for which they hold a service approval. The Approved Provider must ensure their service operates in compliance with every aspect of the National Law Adobe PDF document External Link and National Regulations External Link. There is a range of legislative obligations on the Approved Provider. Some of the obligations also apply to the service's Nominated Supervisor, but the Approved Provider holds primary responsibility for ensuring the service is compliant. An Approved Provider may also choose to be the Nominated Supervisor for a service if they hold a Supervisor Certificate.

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 Adobe PDF document External Link 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. Refer to the Nominated Supervisory responsibilities page for more information.

It is not possible for two people to simultaneously be the nominated supervisor of an approved service under the Education and Care Services National Law (Queensland) Act 2011.

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

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 they must accept the designation 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 his/her responsibilities under the National Law while a certified supervisor is only acting in their role. 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 (NS02 Notification of Change to Nominated Supervisor form Adobe PDF document External Link).

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 using the same NS02 Notification of Change to Nominated Supervisor form Adobe PDF document External Link.

The National Law Adobe PDF document External Link does not outline how regularly a Certified Supervisor can act as the Nominated Supervisor, 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 Approved Provider, or person with management or control of the service
  • the Nominated Supervisor
  • a Certified Supervisor.

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 Adobe PDF document External Link 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.

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. The NS01 Nominated Supervisor Consent form Adobe PDF document External Link can be downloaded from the ACECQA website.

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 using the NS02 Notification of Change to Nominated Supervisor form Adobe PDF document External Link (Refer section 56 of the National Law).

There are no set requirements for qualifications for educational leaders. The only requirement in terms of qualifications is ensuring that the educational leader holds a relevant qualification for an educator, as approved under regulation 137 of the National Regulations External Link. ACECQA has published this list on their website External Link. It is the responsibility of the Approved Provider to ensure that 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 in a service, there may be other employees with several years experience who are also suitable for this role (e.g. Advanced Diploma graduate).

ACECQA may, in time, determine suitable qualifications for the educational leader as part of its role in publishing approved qualifications.

One educational leader per service is required to lead the development and implementation of educational programs in the service. The National Regulations External Link 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.

Providers should consider the National Quality Standard External Link (Quality Area 1 Educational program and practice and Quality Area 7 Leadership and management ) and the National Regulations External Link (Part 4 - Operational requirements) when determining how they will designate educational leader responsibility.

Existing services licensed prior to 1 January 2012 are able to continue to use the short absence and rest pause provisions until 31 December 2019.

For new services from 1 January 2012, a nationally consistent operational policy is being developed that will enable a staff member to have breaks totaling no more than 30 minutes per day for short absences from direct contact with children, for the purpose of toilet breaks, industrial rest pauses and similar. However element 2.3.1 of the National Quality Standard External Link requires that children are adequately supervised at all times. In determining how breaks will be managed consideration needs to be given to the impact on the quality of the program and each of the seven quality areas outlined in the National Quality Standard External Link, particularly Quality Area 1 Educational program and practice.

Regulatory Authorities will take a risk-based approach to enforcement of these regulations. Ratios and qualifications requirements will be calculated across a service, and other arrangements provide flexibility, although as outlined previously consideration needs to be given to the impact on the quality of the program. For example, a Diploma qualified person may backfill the early childhood teacher for short absences and annual leave.

If merging according to section 312 of the National Law Adobe PDF document External Link, all former licences will be amalgamated to become one service approval. Division 3 of Part 4.4 and Division 2 and 3 of Part 7.5 of the National Regulations External Link outline ratio requirements for centre based services. From 2012, the minimum educator to child ratios will apply across the service as a whole. Therefore, for existing services on the same premises that became one approved service under the National Law Adobe PDF document External Link on 1 January 2012, the minimum number of educators will need to be calculated across the entire service (i.e. the two buildings). However, authorised officers will be considering how the staffing arrangements in your service meet regulations in relation to:

  1. adequate supervision;
  2. appropriate child groupings;
  3. interactions between children and staff; and
  4. educational programs and practices.

As of 1 January 2012, there is no maximum capacity for centre-based services. However, the approved number of places will be stated on the service approval. If an Approved Provider wishes to increase the approved number of places for the service, they may apply for an amendment to the Service Approval, with building certifier confirmation of the appropriate physical environment.

The approved number of places will be determined depending on whether a service can meet the physical environment requirements and all other requirements based on the number of places (e.g. minimum educator-to-child ratios).

Note that regulations 107 and 108 of the National Regulations External Link specify the indoor and outdoor space requirements, which are calculated, based on the number of children being provided with education and care. Regulation 107 states that for each child being educated and cared for by the service, the premises must have at least 3.25 square metres of unencumbered indoor space. Regulation 108 requires at least 7 square metres of unencumbered outdoor space per child.

Existing services must also need to continue to meet the requirements of the building legislation that applied when the service's premises was originally certified (i.e. the Queensland Development Code).

Under regulation 4 the National Regulations External Link, a child is over preschool age if they are 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 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 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:

  • adequate supervision;
  • appropriate child groupings; and
  • interactions between children and staff
  • educational programs and practices.

The National Regulations External Link include Queensland specific provisions enabling existing Queensland services to continue to use provisions relating to short absences of 5 minutes, rest pauses and rest period conditions. See regulations 308 to 317 of the National Regulations External Link.

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

National policy is being developed for new services that will address the issue of short breaks that do not exceed 30 minutes per day. For example, morning tea or toilet breaks.

Regulation 310(3) of the National Regulations External Link provides that if the declared approved service educates and cares for fewer than 31 children, then during a rest period one staff member or volunteer may be counted as an educator for every three educators included in the required educator to child ratio. The required educator to child ratios to be met during a rest period are stated in regulation 310(2) of the National Regulations External Link, and relate to the ages of children being educated and cared for.

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)

  1. for a declared approved service with no more than 30 approved places-1 staff member or volunteer
  2. for a declared approved service with at least31 but no more than 75 approved places-2 staff members or volunteers
  3. for a declared approved service with 76 or more approved places-3 staff members or volunteers.

Regulation 312 of the National Regulations External Link provides that, to meet the educator to child ratio during a rest period, the relevant 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.

The National Regulations External Link do not require the educational leader to be employed at the service. The requirement at regulation 118 of the National Regulations External Link requires the service to 'designate in writing' an 'educator, coordinator or other individual'. This means that an educational consultant or a teacher from another service could be designated in that role. While there is no need to advise the department of the educational leader, this information must be displayed at the service.

When designating an educational leader, an Approved Provider should give consideration to the achievement of all requirements under the National Regulations External Link and the impact on the quality assessment and rating of the service. In particular, Approved Providers should contemplate:

  • Part 4.1 Educational program and practice in the National Regulations External Link;
  • Quality Area 1 Educational program and practice in the National Quality Standard;
  • Quality Area 7 Leadership and service management in the National Quality Standard; and
  • the role the educational leader will play in guiding the practice across the service.

Also note that authorised officers visiting a service for an assessment, spot check or any other reason may wish to discuss the service program with the educational leader.

For these reasons, it would be good practice for the educational leader to be regularly present and/or accessible at the service.

Services needed to nominate an educational leader for the beginning of operation in 2012 to meet the requirements in the legislation. The Approved Provider will have designated in writing who this person is and store this as part of their records. The name of the educational leader should also be displayed so it is clearly visible from the main entrance.

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:

  1. does not work alone at the service; and
  2. 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.

As is currently the case under Queensland legislation, under regulation 298 of the National Regulations External Link the minimum educator to child ratio for children over preschool age will be one educator to 15 children. 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.

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.

While there are differences, the responsibilities of a "qualified director" and nominated supervisor are largely the same. Both roles are fulfilled by individuals that have day to day charge of the operation of an education and care service.

One of the major differences between the Child Care Act 2002 and the Education and Care Services National Law 2010 Adobe PDF document External Link (National Law) is that the responsibilities of the nominated supervisor of the service, which may generally be the director in centre based services, are formalised in the National Law by applying penalties to the nominated supervisor along with the approved provider (formerly licensee).

Please visit the Nominated Supervisor Responsibilities page for the full list.

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.

Relationships with children

Under the National Quality Framework, there are no prescribed maximum group sizes. Instead, the National Regulations External Link set out educator to child ratios which apply to children of different age groups. While no maximum group size is prescribed, regulation 156 of the National Regulations External Link 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.

Authorised officers, when assessing the quality of a service, will be considering all of the standards and elements of the National Quality Standard External Link and rating services against each of the seven Quality Areas. Services with large groups of children could potentially receive poor ratings on matters relating to interactions between children and staff, noise levels, and children's comfort, and providing an education program that meets the needs of each individual child.

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.

Centre-based services (long day care, outside school hours care, kindergarten)

The qualification requirements under the National Law changed on 1 January 2014:

More information

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 came into effect on 1 January 2014 and vary based on the size of the service and operating hours (Regulation 129 - 135):

Number of children in the service

Requirements as of 1 January 2014

Fewer than 25 children

Your service needs to have access to an early childhood teacher for at least 20% of the time the service is operating. This may be achieved through an information and communications technology solution.

25-59 children

Your service must employ or engage a full-time early childhood teacher, or have an early childhood teacher in attendance for:

  • 6 hours per day, when operating for more than 50 hours per week, or
  • 60% of the time, when operating for less than 50 hours per week.

60-80 children

Your service must meet the above requirements for 25-59 children (until 2020 when this changes).

More than 80 children

Your service must meet the above requirements for 25-59 children (until 2020 when this changes).

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

Family day care services

The qualification requirements under the National Law changed on 1 January 2014:

More information

Ratios and groups

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 - 2015 Ratio 2016 - 2017 Ratio 1 Jan 2018+ Ratio
0-24 mths 1:4 0-24 mths 1:4 0-24 mths 1:4
15-24 mths* 1:5 15-24 mths 1:5
> 24-35 mths 1:6 > 24-35 mths 1:5 > 24-35 mths 1:5
> 30-35 mths 1:8
36 mths < 7 yrs 1:12 36 mths < school age 1:11 36 mths < school age 1:11
4 yrs < 7 yrs 1:13
4 yrs < 14 yrs 1:12
School age** 1:15 School age** 1:15 School 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.

Refer to Educator-to-child ratios - Implications for Queensland Services for more information.

It is entirely up to the approved provider to use professional judgement to determine how best to configure the service to achieve quality outcomes for each child at the service. The approved provider must ensure that the service has sufficient educators to meet the minimum educator to child ratio requirements for the number and ages of the children being educated and cared for at the service. Under the National Regulations External Link, Division 3 of Part 4.4 and Division 2 and 3 of Part 7.5, the minimum educator to child ratios are calculated across the service - that is, the number of educators required is calculated based on the ages of all children in attendance at the service regardless of the room configuration.

However, it is important to be aware that educator to child ratios are no longer the only consideration in determining appropriate staffing in a service in accordance with section 165 of the National Law Adobe PDF document External Link and the National Quality Standard External Link. Adequate supervision must be maintained at all times and staffing should be arranged in a way to achieve quality education, relationships, health, safety and wellbeing outcomes for children.

Also note that an educator cannot be included in the educator to child ratio unless the educator is 'working directly with children' at the service, as defined in regulation 13 of the National Regulations. Therefore, if the educator allocated as part of the educator to child ratios is not working directly with children, the service would be in breach of the required minimum educator to child ratios and section 165 of the National Law.

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.

From 2012, 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.

For more information, see the Educator to child ratios - Implications for Queensland services page.

In 2009 the Council of Australian Governments considered a range of options for establishing improved ratios for services at a national level. One of the options considered was a ratio of 1:3 for children aged 0-24 months. As a result of detailed cost-benefit analysis and extensive national consultation, the decision was made to establish the educator to child ratio of 1:4 for that age cohort.

In some states this has meant a dramatic improvement from former standards, with the potential to impact on costs to families with children in those rooms. Queensland already held this standard and services are therefore largely unaffected by the 1:4 ratio which commenced in 2012. Services may choose to improve on the minimum ratios in the National Regulations at any time.

Transitional ratios apply to most services operating in Queensland, regardless of when they were established or renovated. However, services are able to provide improved ratios at any time - the prescribed ratios are merely a minimum standard. Services choosing to commence operating with the higher educator to child ratios required in 2016 would be well placed to provide high quality services.

Before conducting significant renovations, it is recommended you discuss any plans with an Authorised Officer, including any impact on your service provision.

Collaborative partnerships

The National Regulations External Link (Part 4.6 Collaborative partnerships with families and communities; regulation 157 Access for parents) provide that parents may enter the education and care service premises at any time that the child is being educated and cared for, unless this would pose a risk to the safety of the children or staff, or conflict with duties of the educator, or the parent is prohibited by a court order from having contact with the child.

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.

The Approved Provider at each service must adhere to regulation 82 of the National Regulations which requires that the environment be free from tobacco, alcohol and drugs - this applies to staff and visitors.

When considering the access of parents to the premises and the program, the collaborative partnerships with families requirements under the National Quality Standard should be kept in mind, including:

  • 6.1 Respectful supportive relationships with families are developed and maintained.
  • 6.2 Families are supported in their parenting role and their values and beliefs about child rearing are respected.

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.

Leadership and service management

Copies of the National Law External Link, National Regulations External Link and associated guides External Link are available on the ACECQA website. The Australian Government also plans to send a CD version of the legislation to each service. There is no requirement in the legislation for services to hold a printed copy of the legislation.

Chapter 5 - Review, enforcement and compliance

The Regulatory Authority will use a risk-based methodology which considers the 'likelihood' and 'consequence' of any risk posed to the health, safety and wellbeing of children at a service. Compliance actions will match the assessed risk.

Any party affected by decisions of the Regulatory Authority will have the opportunity and time to respond before a final decision is made. This is to ensure that decisions around monitoring and compliance are underpinned by the principles of natural justice and procedural fairness.

Administrative Action

If a compliance issue arises and depending on the level of risk posed to the health, safety and wellbeing of children, the Regulatory Authority may elect to engage in administrative action with the service. Administrative action allows services to respond to compliance issues and may include meetings, informal discussions, providing information and guidance, or further monitoring.

If, after working with the service, the Regulatory Authority considers the Approved Provider has not taken appropriate steps to comply with the legislation, the service may be issued with a Compliance Caution Letter.

Compliance Caution Letter

A Compliance Caution Letter is issued to the Approved Provider of a service and will contain:

  • the date of the non-compliance
  • details of each non-compliance, including the section or regulation that has been contravened
  • steps necessary to remedy the non-compliance
  • the date by which the Approved Provider must remedy the non-compliance.

A Compliance Caution Letter will be the first step before formal compliance action unless there is an immediate or unacceptable risk to the health, safety and wellbeing of children.

A risk-based methodology will be used which considers the 'likelihood' and the 'consequence' of the non-compliance. The evidence is assessed based on:

  • findings of the service visit, assessment and rating visit or investigation
  • service history
  • any previous compliance action taken
  • action taken by the service to address non-compliance.

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 Regulatory Authority 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 Regulatory Authority may choose to exercise its power to take immediate formal compliance action.

Compliance tools available to the Regulatory Authority

Evidence gathered during a service visit, assessment and rating visit or investigation may result in the Regulatory Authority pursuing compliance action. If the risk posed to the safety, health and wellbeing of children is unacceptable or the approved provider of a service has not responded appropriately to administrative action, the Regulatory Authority may pursue other avenues of compliance, including but not limited to:

  • amendment of approvals or certificates, including imposing or varying conditions Adobe PDF document External Link (s.23, s.55 or s.120 National Law)
  • suspension of approvals or certificates Adobe PDF document External Link (s.27, s.28, s.72, s.73, s.125 or s.126 National Law)
  • cancellation of approvals or certificates Adobe PDF document External Link (s.33, s.79 or 124, National Law)
  • compliance direction Adobe PDF document External Link - a written direction issued to the Approved Provider of a service in breach of any of the prescribed provisions in Schedule 3 of the National Regulations. The direction will require the Approved Provider to take specified steps to comply with the provision in breach within a specified timeframe (no less than 14 days) (s.176, National Law Adobe PDF document External Link)
  • compliance notice Adobe PDF document External Link - a written notice issued to the approved provider of a service in breach of any provision in the National Law. The notice will require the approved provider to take specified steps to comply with the provision in breach within a specified timeframe (no less than 14 days) (s.177, National Law Adobe PDF document External Link)
  • prosecution Adobe PDF document External Link - where there is serious or ongoing non-compliance with the National Law prosecution may be the most appropriate tool to support quality outcomes for children. The department would carefully consider this approach before taking action to enforce offence penalties.

Under the National Law Adobe PDF document External Link and National Regulations External Link, the department has a range of tools to enforce compliance. As is currently the case, the compliance action taken will depend on the severity of the issue. A national working group is currently finalising the Monitoring Compliance Policy to be followed by Regulatory Authorities in each state and territory. This national policy will dictate what processes must be followed as part of the compliance actions undertaken by Regulatory Authority and considerations in the risk-based approach.

The National Law Adobe PDF document External Link and National Regulations External Link include a range of tools for the Regulatory Authority to use in the case of non-compliance, including penalties, compliance notices, etc.

As is currently the case, the department will work with service providers to address issues of non-compliance. This will include our current administrative practice of issuing a pre-notice letter (now called a Compliance Caution Letter) wherever appropriate.

As is also currently the case, the department may take action depending on the service's compliance history and the risk to the health, safety and well-being of children. In addition, the compliance history of a service is taken into account in the assessment and rating process and the department may review a service's rating at any time. Apart from assessment and rating visits, the department will undertake spot checks, targeted campaigns and investigations in relation to complaints or other incidents using a risk-based approach.

7V letters (remedied contravention letters) do not form part of the legislative compliance framework within the Child Care Act 2002. These letters are administrative and provided to enable procedural fairness for affected parties.

Similarly, letters regarding remedied contraventions do not form part of the legislative compliance framework within the Education and Care Services National Law Adobe PDF document External Link.

The National Authority (ACECQA External Link) is finalising the Compliance Policy to be followed by Regulatory Authorities in each State and Territory. This national operational policy will dictate what processes must be followed as part of the compliance actions undertaken by Regulatory Authority.

The National Law Adobe PDF document External Link does not distinguish between 'minor' and 'more than minor' non-compliance issues. However, compliance directions may be issued for non-compliance with specific provisions as stated in the National Regulations External Link, while compliance notices may be issued for non-compliance with any other provision of the National Law Adobe PDF document External Link or National Regulations External Link. The actions taken by the Regulatory Authority in response to alleged contraventions will be determined following a risk-assessment process.

Authorised officers will be ascertaining the degree of risk associated with each instance of non-compliance.

Alleged non-compliance may be addressed by the department at any time a service's ratings is reviewed. Apart from assessment and rating visits, the department will also monitor compliance with the National Law Adobe PDF document External Link and National Regulations External Link through spot checks, targeted campaigns and investigations in relation to complaints or other incidents using a risk-based approach.

Pre-notice letters and extension letters did not form part of the legislative compliance framework within the Child Care Act 2002. These are administrative letters to assist services to comply with their legislative obligations.

Similarly, pre-notice and extension letters do not form part of the legislative compliance framework within the National Law Adobe PDF document External Link.

Work is currently being undertaken nationally to finalise the policy in relation to compliance and monitoring to be followed by Regulatory Authorities in each State and Territory. This national policy will guide authorised officers in deciding on the compliance actions to be taken and administrative processes to support services to comply and continually improve.

Under the Child Care Act 2002 (the Act), there were a range of offences that applied if licensees failed to comply with the law. The Act included a range of compliance powers other than offences, to encourage compliance including suspension and cancellations.

Similarly, under the National Law, there are a range of compliance tools including offences.

As per the department's existing approach, the intention is to continue to work collaboratively with services to achieve compliance with the legislation with a view to positive outcomes for children.

In some cases, compliance action needs to be taken to remedy a situation.

The compliance actions are largely similar to the approaches under the Act. For example, a compliance notice to give time to comply or, in more extreme cases, suspending an approval or certificate immediately or with appropriate 'show cause'. Opportunities to seek internal and/or external reviews of these decisions are available.

In a limited number of cases, where providers fail to comply with the National Law Adobe PDF document External Link, prosecution may be an appropriate tool to support quality outcomes for children. The department would consider the outcomes of such an approach prior to taking action to enforce offence penalties.

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This page was last reviewed on 16 Jun 2014

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