Early childhood education and care services have asked a number of questions about the National Quality Framework (NQF).
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On 1 January 2012, the National Quality Framework (NQF) introduced a new integrated national approach to the regulation and quality assessment processes for long day care, family day care, outside school hours care and kindergarten services. This includes a new quality rating system for services and new national standards that includes more educators to educate and care for children and enhanced educator qualification requirements 579K.
Key aspects of the new Framework include:
A range of resources are available to provide more detail for services and families.
The Australian Government and state and territory governments are working to deliver national reforms and joint initiatives, including the introduction of a National Quality Framework (NQF), aimed at providing all children with the best start for life and learning.
The decision to pursue this important reform was based on a number of key factors:
The first five years of a child's life shapes their future - their health, learning and social development. Experiences in the early years form the foundation of an individual's life-long learning capacity and social behaviour.
Quality of education and care services is crucial. Well qualified educators, low educator to child ratios and small group sizes provide the context in which quality is likely to occur.
The NQF aims to deliver consistently higher standards of quality education and care to all children throughout Australia.
For more information about the national and international policy and research that led to the development of the NQF, view the National Quality Framework background presentation 1.0M.
The National Quality Framework (NQF) puts in place a new National Quality Standard (NQS) to ensure high quality and consistent early childhood education and care across Australia. The NQS focuses on outcomes for children. The changes help providers to improve their services in the areas that impact on a child's development and the national rating system empowers families to make informed choices about which service is best for their child.
For both service providers and assessors there will be a much greater reliance on professional judgement in demonstrating and assessing compliance under the NQF.
Services only have to deal with one tier of government under new streamlined national regulatory arrangements administered and enforced by state agencies. In Queensland, the Department of Education, Training and Employment is the Queensland regulatory authority responsible for regulating and assessing services oversighted by a national authority that monitors national consistency, the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority .
Copies of the Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010 (Vic) can be purchased from Information Victoria by calling 1300 366 356 or Anstat Pty Ltd by calling (03) 9278 1133.
Printed copies of the National Regulations can be ordered from Salmat, who offer a 'print on demand' service for Acts and Regulations published on the NSW Legislation website.
As at 17 November 2011, prices are:
Orders can be made over the phone by credit card by calling 1300 725 628. Quotes can be requested by sending an email to email@example.com.
The Queensland and Australian Governments are committed to ensuring that service providers have the information they need to understand the requirements of the National Quality Framework (NQF). A range of products has 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.
Changes to educator-to-child ratios and educator qualifications are being phased in gradually from 2012, in recognition that service providers and educators will need some time to adjust and upskill.
Both the Australian Government and the Queensland Government are investing in a range of initiatives to support the early childhood workforce.
The Australian Government will continue to provide funding through Child Care Benefit and the Child Care Rebate . Funding is also being provided through the Queensland Kindergarten Funding Scheme to support services to employ an early childhood teacher to deliver a kindergarten program.
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.
There is no ability under the National Law for services to 'opt-in' to being subject to the National Law . Depending on the type of exclusion, a change to the way a service operates may impact on the status of the service. For example, while a service operates in a way that matches the description of 'occasional care' in the National Regulations , it will be excluded. However if the service stops providing education and care primarily on a casual or ad hoc basis and primarily provides regular care, the service will be in-scope of the National Quality Framework (NQF) (assuming no other exclusion applies).
Services Queensland excluded from the NQF that are currently licensed or regulated under the Child Care Act 2002 must continue to comply with the requirements of the Child Care Act 2002 and Child Care Regulation 2003. However, out-of-scope services may choose to adopt aspects of the National Quality Standard , including implementing the Early Years Learning Framework and undertaking a self-assessment and quality improvement process.
There is no maximum age under the National Quality Framework, however if all children attending a service are over 13 then the service is out-of-scope.
Section 11 of the National Law 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 , and regulation 174 (2)(b) of the National Regulations ).
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.
To meet the display requirements outlined above, existing services must display the name of the Nominated Supervisor in addition to confirming details of the Nominated Supervisor with the department by 10 February 2012.
Existing services must also:
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.
Multiple licences on the same premises operated by the same approved provider were transitioned as one service approval under National Quality Framework. Current multiple licences considered to be only one service for National Childcare Accreditation Council processes will be automatically transitioned. Other adjoining services may choose to have a single service approval. The department requested information about co-located and adjoining services as part of the data collection that took place in December 2011 to inform the transition process.
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 , 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 ).
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:
If the service is able to take preschool age children only (not including school children), the condition may read one of the following:
For school aged care services, the condition will read:
Other age ranges may be considered if it relates to a legislative requirement that restricts the ages of the children able to attend.
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, if an individual does not have the qualification requirements prescribed in the National Regulations , an individual may be granted a supervisor certificate if they had 3 years experience as an educator in a prescribed setting (regulation 47 (b) (i)). An applicant without qualifications or experience may be granted a supervisor certificate subject to a condition that the person may only be a supervisor of a service that primarily educates and cares for children over preschool age.
In Queensland any staff member of a licensed service or nominee for a licensee who also holds or is working towards the qualifications for a Group Leader (Diploma), Director (Advanced Diploma) or School Age Coordinator (Diploma) or holds the qualification for a family day care Coordinator (Diploma) were declared Nominated and Certified Supervisors on 1 January 2012. Information was sought from service providers in December 2011 to facilitate this transition. The requirements for new applicants for Supervisor Certificates are outlined in regulation 47 of the National Regulations.
For new Certified Supervisor applicants, the applicant must:
Without these qualifications or experience, the individual may only apply to be a Certified Supervisor in a school-age care setting.
There is a one-off $30 application fee for the Supervisor Certificate which is paid by the individual. The certificate is portable from service to service and nationally and is issued automatically if a person is already in an existing equivalent position. Those persons automatically granted a Declared Supervisor Certificate will not need to pay the application fee.
A provider approval, service approval or supervisor certificate once granted continues in force until it is cancelled or surrendered under the National Law . This also applies to the existing services and individuals that were transitioned into the National Law as declared approvals on 1 January 2012.
Those individuals who apply for a Supervisor Certificate from 2012 (i.e. are not declared Certified Supervisors) will be able to apply via the new national IT system, or through paper-based forms available on ACECQA's website . Further information on the timeframe for the IT system will be available soon.
Approved providers are required to nominate a certified supervisor as a nominated supervisor and seek written consent from that individual for that nomination. For existing services, information to be provided to the department via the ECEC Services National Quality Framework transition form includes details of the nominated supervisor.
A certified supervisor who is placed in day-to-day charge of the service is not acting in the role of the nominated supervisor. Therefore, there is no requirement for approved providers to inform regional officers about certified supervisors who are placed in day to day charge.
Regulation 54 of the National Regulations states the approved provider or nominated supervisor must designate the certified supervisor to be the certified supervisor in day to day charge and the certified supervisor must accept that designation in writing.
No, however, as the approved provider you may also want to be the nominated supervisor. To do so, you must hold a supervisor certificate. You can find out more and apply for a supervisor certificate on the ACECQA website.
The National Law requires a "responsible person" to be present when a centre-based service is providing education and care. If you choose not to become a nominated supervisor or hold a supervisor certificate, you, as the approved provider, will still be considered a 'responsible person'. As such, you may be present at the service in the absence of a nominated supervisor or a certified supervisor.
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.
The Quality Improvement Plan must be submitted to the department within 3 months of receiving service approval.
All services need to submit their Plan within 6 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:
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 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.
All services will be assessed and rated against the National Quality Standard.
The National Quality Standard has 7 quality areas:
Services will be given a rating for each of the 7 quality areas above, and an overall rating. There are 5 rating levels:
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 can help your service prepare for assessment.
Contact your local regional office for more information and support.
Queensland services will be assessed and rated by Authorised Officers from the department's regional offices 358K.
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 12 weeks' notice of your assessment and rating visit. Visits are scheduled by authorised
officers from the department's regional offices .
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 358K.
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 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 for the Excellent rating.
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.
|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
|Excellent||Awarded by the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA). Services rated Exceeding National Quality Standard may choose to apply .|
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 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 for more information.
In Queensland, before final reports and ratings are given to services, they are moderated by an Early Childhood Manager or Team Leader from the department's regional offices .
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:
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) 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:
ACECQA has produced guides for Regulatory Authorities 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.
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 ) 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 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 , 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 (EYLF). Under the National Quality Standard , the EYLF is an approved learning framework 707K. 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 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 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) 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) 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) and My Time, Our Place: Framework for School Age Care in Australia (FCAC) 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 . 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.
Serious incidents are defined in Regulation 12 of the National Regulations as:
Section 12(b) of the National Law , 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 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 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 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 ) 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 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 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:
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:
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 or NL01 Notification of complaints or incidents (other than serious incidents) 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 358K) 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 .
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 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 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 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 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 and it is recommended that wading pools are assessed against Queensland's Pool Safety Laws .
Under the National Quality Framework, there are no specified educator to child ratios for excursions. The National Regulations 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 ). 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 template can be found in the Guide to the Law and Regulations available on the ACECQA website . However, services do not have to follow this and can choose their own format. Refer to regulation 101 of the National Regulations for required considerations such as the proposed route and destination, water hazards, number of children and adults.
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 (Part 4.3 - Physical environment). However, under the transitional provisions in the National Regulations , if the service was not required to comply with a similar requirement immediately prior to the commencement of the National Law , 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 and National Regulations . The building certifier has discretion to apply the newer version of the building standards to the whole of the existing building if the certifier believes 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 . 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 . 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:
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 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 ) 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 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.
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 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 applies for all family day care services as follows:
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:
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 .
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 ; 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 .
Element 3.1.1 of the National Quality Standard - 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 in order to provide suitable spaces for children of all ages at your service.
Section 162 of the National Law 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:
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:
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 and National Regulations . 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 does not preclude a person from being the Nominated Supervisor for more than one service. However, the Nominated Supervisor has a range of responsibilities and obligations under the National Law and National Regulations , 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 . 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 .
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 ).
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 .
The National Law 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 National Law does not prevent a person from being the Nominated Supervisor for more than one service. However, the Nominated Supervisor has a range of responsibilities and obligations under the National Law and National Regulations , 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 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 (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 . ACECQA has published this list on their website . 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 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 (Quality Area 1 Educational program and practice and Quality Area 7 Leadership and management ) and the National Regulations (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 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 , 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 , 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 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 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:
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 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 , 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 , 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:
The National Regulations 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 .
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 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 , 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)
Regulation 312 of the National Regulations 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 do not require the educational leader to be employed at the service. The requirement at regulation 118 of the National Regulations 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 and the impact on the quality assessment and rating of the service. In particular, Approved Providers should contemplate:
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:
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 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 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 ), 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 (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 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.
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. While no maximum group size 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.
Authorised officers, when assessing the quality of a service, will be considering all of the standards and elements of the National Quality Standard 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, 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 .
The qualification requirements under the National Law changed on 1 January 2014:
Centre-based services with children under school age need to have access to a qualified early childhood teacher 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.
Your service must employ or engage a full-time early childhood teacher, or have an early childhood teacher in attendance for:
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).
The qualification requirements under the National Law changed on 1 January 2014:
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:
|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 , 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 , 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 and the National Quality Standard . 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 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.
The National Regulations (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:
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.
Copies of the National Law , National Regulations and associated guides 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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
Under the National Law and National Regulations , 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.
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 .
The National Authority (ACECQA ) 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 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 , while compliance notices may be issued for non-compliance with any other provision of the National Law or National Regulations . 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 and National Regulations 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 .
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 , 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.
The previous license renewal fee, which all services pay at some point over a three year period, and the NCAC annual fee, has been replaced with one annual fee under the National Quality Framework. The annual fee will be determined based on service size.
The annual fee takes into account the cost of conducting many activities for which no fee is charged, including the assessment and rating process, spot checks and target visits, training and communications materials provided to services and some basic transactions, such as applications to vary/amend service and provider approvals.
The current license fees are a point in time transaction fee and therefore the period to which they apply (i.e. up to three years) is not related to the fee. For this reason those services who paid their license renewal fee in 2011 will be required to pay the annual fee under the NQF in 2012.
The National Quality Framework aims to balance enhanced quality in early childhood with maintaining affordability for families.
When the national Decision Regulatory Impact Statement was publicly released in December 2009, the estimated cost of implementing national quality reforms in Queensland for long day care services was about $5.99 per child per day by 2020. Around half of this increase is expected to be covered by the Australian Government through the Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate. The estimated impact to kindergartens is minimal as current standards already in place in kindergartens will assist in meeting the new national standard. The importance of affordable child care is recognised and the cost impact of the reforms will be monitored.
The Queensland Government wants child care fees to remain affordable for families and will be monitoring the cost impact of the reforms.
Cost impacts of the National Quality Framework fact sheet for more information.
This page was last reviewed on 16 Apr 2014 at 01:32PM