ACECQA Newsletter Issue 8 2015

Getting ready for new educator to child ratios

New educator to child ratios start 1 January 2016 for services in the ACT, NSW, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria. There are no changes in Tasmania and Western Australia where the ratios are already in place.
 
The new ratios are an essential part of the National Quality Framework (NQF) and the phased introduction was agreed in 2009 to give services time to prepare for the changes.
 
As well as bringing national consistency to this area of the NQF, improved educator to child ratios support quality education and care by allowing staff to give more attention to each child.
 
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.

For more information and a summary of every jurisdiction’s NQF educator to child ratio requirements visit ACECQA’s website. You can also contact your local regulatory authority for more information about changes in your jurisdiction. 


Making sure your service meets state and territory legislation requirements

The introduction of the NQF saw the replacement of many state and territory licensing requirements with new national processes, however there are some remaining legislative differences across jurisdictions. Examples of this include state building codes and poison handling legislation. So as well as meeting the NQF, services need to make sure their practices align with any additional requirements in their state or territory.
 
ACECQA spoke with Christine Legg, Chief Executive Officer at KU Children's Services, about how an approved provider can maintain national consistency when operating education and care services in different states and territories.
 
KU Children’s Services currently operates more than 100 education and care services across Australia, including in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and ACT.
 
“KU develops policies at the national level for all of its services. However, we include state specific legislation and support services to adapt their procedures to comply with the legislation in their state or territory,” Ms Legg said.
 
“For example, states and territories may have different legislation around topics such as child protection, food safety and sun protection. We work with all of our services to adapt their practices to meet the additional jurisdictional requirements.”
 
Contact your regulatory authority if you have any questions about state and territory requirements.

NQF Snapshot shows almost two-thirds of services assessed and rated

Close to two-thirds of children’s education and care services across Australia have received a quality rating, according to the latest National Quality Framework (NQF) report published earlier this month.
 
ACECQA’s Board Chair, Rachel Hunter, said with 63 per cent of services assessed and rated, more families were able to get information about the quality of their local services.
 
“The latest figures show that services are continuing to meet and exceed higher standards of education and care,” Ms Hunter said.
 
“Of the 63 per cent of services assessed and rated, two-thirds (66 per cent) are Meeting or Exceeding the National Quality Standard (NQS) and one-third (34 per cent) are rated Working Towards NQS.
 
“This breakdown in quality ratings is fairly much in line with what we expected. The rating system was always meant to leave room for continuous improvement.”
 
For the first time, the Snapshot also contains information on the standards and elements services find most challenging to meet.
 
ACECQA and regulatory authorities are continuing to focus their efforts on supporting services to understand and meet the standards and requirements, while taking into account their service context.
 
Ratings for the 9347 services already quality rated are available in the national registers published by ACECQA, with more ratings added each week.
 
Download the NQF Snapshot.

Notice period for family day care educator visits

Make sure your educators are aware of the assessment and rating notice period for family day care educator visits.
 
All approved providers are advised of the four-week period that their assessment and rating visit will take place in and are given at least five days’ notice of the date of the assessment and rating visit. Then, depending on the jurisdiction, between 0-5 days’ notice of the educator sample to be visited is given.
 
The 0-5 days’ notice period range gives regulatory authorities flexibility to decide this period based on individual circumstances.
 
A new FAQ on the topic has been posted on ACECQA’s website. Contact your state or territory regulatory authority for more information on assessment and rating visits.

National Workshops wrap up

After almost 12 months, ACECQA’s National Workshops wrapped up this week, with the last session held in Mount Isa, Queensland. More than 4,000 educators and providers participated in the interactive sessions.

The workshops were a successful collaboration between ACECQA, regulatory authorities and the Professional Support Coordinators Alliance, providing educators with the opportunity to gain answers to their questions on Quality Area 1 – Educational Program and Practice.

ACECQA’s National Educational Leader, Rhonda Livingstone, commented on the learning and networking opportunities provided by the workshops.

“It’s great for educators from different services to have the chance to come together to share ideas and discuss and reflect on practice,” she said.

“I was so encouraged by the enthusiasm and engagement from educators at the workshops, many of whom made the time to attend after a demanding day of working with children and families.

“We received positive feedback from educators about the opportunities the workshop offered to clarify expectations, identify useful resources and share practical strategies to help them meet the requirements of the National Quality Framework.”

Many services said they are planning to use the workbook and resources provided to run their own workshops with educators in their service.

Other feedback showed educators appreciated the opportunity to learn from services that have been through the assessment and rating process.

ACECQA will use this feedback as part of its planning for the 2015-16 series of workshops. Keep an eye out in the coming months for details of these sessions, as well as resources from the current workshops, on ACECQA’s website, social media updates and newsletters.


The young and the old - seeing the world through each other's eyes 

Early childhood educator at UNSW Tigger's Honeypot, Julie Occhiuto, shares her experience of an innovative program bringing together young children and residents from a local aged care service on ACECQA's blog.
 
Everyone has a story and this one begins with an inherent love of both young children and the elderly in our communities. Read more on We Hear You.

New report reviews training for early education and care

The Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) released its report today on the findings from its review into early childhood education and care training. Read the report and its recommendations here.