ACECQA Newsletter Issue 12 2015

Thursday 17 December, 2015

Celebrate, reflect and plan

As 2015 draws to a close, why not take a moment to celebrate and share your service’s successes on your journey of continuous improvement. What a great opportunity to make this a feature at end of year celebrations, focusing on the goals you’ve achieved, the strengths you’ve identified and a preview of where to next in 2016.

This is an excellent opportunity to:

  • reflect on how the processes and systems of continuous improvement are working in your service and
  • critically reflect on improvements since the introduction of Quality Improvement Plans (QIP) more than three years ago.

Consider how self-assessment and quality improvement is managed at your service.

  1. Is it working and is the whole team on board?
  2. Are your service’s systems and plans connected?
  3. Is the process effective and efficient?
  4. Do your individual inclusion plans or performance review process link into your quality improvement plan?
  5. Do children, families and communities have a voice at all stages of the process?
  6. Are there links with the professional development plans for educators and/or coordinators?
  7. How are you sharing your goals and progress with children, families and communities?
  8. Do your outlined achievements and goals reflect the strengths and uniqueness of your service

Get a head start in planning and paving the way for effective continuous improvement in 2016 and most importantly, take the opportunity to thank your team and congratulate them on the year that’s been and celebrate the many successes along the way. 


A smooth transition from pre-school to school

Lei Ding, Educational Leader at Hilda Booler Kindergarten in Sydney writes on behalf of the Hilda Booler team this month, sharing ideas on assisting pre-schoolers in the transition to school.

On ACECQA’s We Hear You blog you can find out how Hilda Booler’s program supports children to develop their social, emotional, literacy and numeracy skills, and how supporting families can ease the transition.

Read more on We Hear You.


How ratios are calculated

With improved educator to child ratios starting 1 January 2016 in several states and territories, your service may have questions on how ratios are calculated.  

Educator-to-child ratios are calculated across the whole service, for the ages of children in attendance at the time, rather than by room grouping. This flexibility may allow some services affected by the ratio changes to reconfigure groupings rather than roster additional staff or reduce overall capacity of the service.

The National Law and Regulations do not prescribe how services must roster staff or group children to ensure ratio requirements are met. However, the approved provider and nominated supervisor are responsible for ensuring that children are adequately supervised at all times.

Ratio requirements are the minimum requirements, and additional educators may need to be rostered to ensure ratios are maintained while educators are on a rostered break. Also, at some times of the day and for some activities, some children may need closer supervision than others. In these situations, services need to be aware that just because educator-to-child ratio requirements are met, it does not necessarily mean there is adequate supervision across a service.

New ratios apply for:

  • children older than 24 months and younger than 36 months at centre-based services in NSW, Queensland and South Australia
  • children older than 36 months up to and including preschool age for all centre-based services in Queensland and Victoria
  • preschools in ACT, Northern Territory and South Australia
  • family day care services in Queensland.

More information, including an interactive map outlining the changes in your state or territory, is available on ACECQA’s ratio page.


Does your service have a complaints handling strategy?

Ensuring your service has an effective complaints handling strategy will help to resolve issues promptly and avoid potential escalation of problems.

All services are required to have a readily accessible policy and procedure for dealing with complaints. This should reflect the specific needs and circumstances of your service and families, and may include:

  • information about how to raise a complaint with service management
  • an outline of the steps that will be followed at each stage of managing a complaint
  • procedures for ensuring complaints are addressed and investigated fairly and in a timely manner
  • procedures for documenting discussions between families, staff and management
  • procedures for alerting your regulatory authority of any complaint alleging that the safety, health or wellbeing of a child was or is being compromised, or that any breach of the law has occurred
  • options for raising concerns with the relevant party
  • procedures for keeping a complainant informed of the progress of a complaint
  • procedures for maintaining confidentiality
  • procedures for documenting and evaluating the progress of a complaint
  • procedures for evaluating the outcomes of a complaint and providing recommendations for the future
  • details of external agencies for a complainant to contact if they feel their concerns have not been resolved.

Complaints alleging that the safety, health or wellbeing of a child was or is being compromised, or that the law has been breached must be reported by your approved provider to the relevant regulatory authority within 24 hours of the complaint.

A lack of communication can often be a trigger for complaints. Provide regular information and create opportunities for families to give feedback to minimise misunderstanding and help to avoid formal complaints.

Your enrolment and orientation procedure is often a good opportunity to make families aware of how they can provide regular feedback, the details of your complaint handling policy and how to access this information.

Read about one service’s method of communicating with families on our We Hear You blog.


Administrative burden for services decreasing over time

Education and care services have reported a significant decline in perceptions of overall burden associated with the administrative requirements of the National Law and Regulations.

The findings are part of ACECQA’s Report on National Quality Framework and Regulatory Burden – Wave III, the third in a longitudinal study investigating perceptions of administrative burden among service providers.

Other findings show:

  • consistently high levels of support for the National Quality Framework (NQF)
  • administrative requirements of the National Law and Regulations are simpler than previous licensing and accreditation systems
  • perceived burden associated with the quality assessment and rating visits has increased.

In partnership with regulatory authorities ACECQA will continue to reinforce that the focus of quality assessment is not how much documentation a service has, but how it is used to inform planning to extend children’s thinking and learning.

ACECQA’s national workshops, sector communications and guidance materials also clarify requirements of the NQF and aim to reduce administrative burden.

Read the full report here.


ACECQA's annual report available online

ACECQA's 2014-15 annual report has been published in accordance with the Education and Care Services National Law.

The report details key work for ACECQA during 2014-15, including the launch of the Starting Blocks family communications strategy, increased support, training and guidance for authorised officers, and national educator workshops delivered in partnership with local Professional Support Co-ordinators and regulatory authority staff.

An assessment to 30 June 2015 of the implementation and administration of the NQF is also included in the report.


Submissions open on the Family Assistance Legislation Amendment Bill 2015

Submissions to the Education and Employment Legislation Committee’s inquiry into the provisions of the Family Assistance Legislation Amendment (Jobs for Families Child Care Package) Bill 2015 are open until 29 January 2016.

The Committee is seeking written submissions from interested individuals and organisations before providing its report to the Senate by 17 March 2016.

Instructions on making a submission are available on the Senate Committees’ website and the Committee secretariat can also help via email eec.sen@aph.gov.au or phone (02) 6277 3521.


Incorporating inclusion into your programs

The recently launched Keys to Inclusive Practice resource is a practical, interactive tool for educators to support families from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Developed by the Ethnic Community Services Co-operative (ECSC), it provides information and suggestions to encourage daily reflection on how educators incorporate inclusion authentically and holistically into their programs.

This, and a range of DVDs, CDs, posters and brochures promoting and encouraging inclusive practice in early childhood education services is available through the ECSC website.


ACECQA has moved

ACECQA has moved to Level 6, 175 Liverpool Street, Sydney, NSW 2000. Our postal address, phone numbers, fax numbers and email addresses remain the same.