ACECQA Newsletter Issue 3 2022
Welcome to our March newsletter and our thoughts are with services, staff, families and children affected by the recent floods and their aftermath in Queensland and New South Wales.
Disruptions and their cumulative effect on children’s and adults’ sense of wellbeing cannot be underestimated. Children in Australia have experienced an extraordinary number of ‘unprecedented’ events in their young lives including bush fires, a pandemic, border closures, lockdowns and isolations, mask wearing and floods. If ‘wellbeing’ can be measured by how well we feel we are coping with life, then it is no surprise that wellbeing supports for both adults and children are in such strong demand.
As teachers and educators, our roles and consistent relationships with children in our services are more vital than ever in this era of disruptions. It is argued that ‘relationships’ indeed are the foundation or core competencies of educators and teachers, as they have a direct and critical impact on learning and wellbeing. Close and consistent relationships between staff, children and their families amplify children’s emotional stability and security and lay the bedrock on which children feel safe to explore their capabilities and choices. Children’s wellbeing is closely connected with their sense of security, their understanding of how the world works, their place in it by belonging to a family, group or community, and their sense of agency - all of which help to strengthen their coping skills when faced with new challenges. I recently read a simple definition of ‘agency’ that is worth sharing: agency “…is the capacity of an individual to choose, act, and influence matters in their everyday lives”.
So, this month, we build on the enduring connections between you, your families and peers, and the special continuity of your relationships with children to bring articles that we hope will support your professional identity and agency. We have articles about learning through play, and more online resources for your professional conversations and in-service learning. We also have updates from governments on flood recovery supports and a story about an Excellent rated service that has exceptional commitment to its workforce and its relationship with children and families.
When events and the world keep throwing out new challenges, we have to find ways to stay connected, to find new ways of coping and to share our stories. If these articles help, please talk about them with your teams and families.
In our latest blog post we unpack intentional teaching strategies, as well as questions and activities to share at your next team meeting.
A guiding principle of the National Quality Framework that informs the development of our education and care programs is the view that all children are capable and competent learners who have agency. There is also a long-standing body of evidence showing that children learn best through a play-based program.
The National Quality Standard (NQS) encourages educators to facilitate and extend each child’s learning and development. This can be supported through a play-based program by using practice that is thoughtful, intentional, collaborative and responsive to the everyday flow of experiences and events for children and educators.
When educators collaborate with children to design and implement a play-based program, they are providing children with opportunities to learn as they discover, create, improvise, test theories, imagine and engage with others.
We have refreshed ACECQA’s Ratings Review Panel pool of members, and are pleased to welcome 14 new reviewers this year.
Under the National Law, if an approved provider of an education and care service disagrees with their quality ratings, they may apply under section 141 to the regulatory authority for a review ('first tier' review'). If the approved provider is not satisfied after the first tier review, they may apply to ACECQA for a further review (‘second tier' review) by a Ratings Review Panel.
To do this, ACECQA establishes a pool of qualified and experienced people to assess and decide on ‘second tier’ reviews, as members of a Ratings Review Panel. The new members strengthen the experience, expertise and knowledge base of the Ratings Review Panel pool across all service types. They also provide the pool with a strong mix of individuals from the education and care sector and governments.
The full list of Ratings Review panel pool members is available on the ACECQA website.
More than 80 local area emergencies have been declared across Queensland and New South Wales following flooding and severe rainfall in February and March.
Early childhood education and care providers that close for more than seven days due to flooding in these regions are eligible for Flood Support Payments of $10,000.
The support is conditional on providers waiving gap fees for families for the duration of the flood-related closure and providing priority access to families impacted by flooding. Services in eligible regions will have received offers before 18 March.
Providers are asked to encourage families to maintain their enrolments to ensure the child receives continuity of care and early learning.
The Australian Government has also increased funding for the Community Child Care Fund (CCCF) Special Circumstances to help more services impacted by the recent floods, as well as COVID-19.
Extra allowable absences will also be automatically applied for children who live in or attend a service in a flood-affected region. Affected families may also be eligible for support through the Additional Child Care Subsidy (temporary financial hardship) and can apply directly to Centrelink.
For more information on support available to service providers, visit the Department of Education, Skills and Training website.
The recent flood disaster across Queensland has resulted in early childhood services closing (both short and long term) or operating under a temporary waiver with parts of the premises (a section of the outdoor space, for example) damaged and inaccessible.
Ongoing collaboration between the regulatory authority, approved providers, service staff and central governing bodies has been paramount in closely managing temporary waiver applications and options for long term closures, resulting wherever possible in maintained service viability and continuity of care for children.
One stand-alone kindergarten in the north of Brisbane was devastatingly inundated with flood waters resulting in short-term closure. With the close management of this service, children are being provided education and care by their educators at a service in close proximity while their beloved kindergarten undergoes repairs. The success of this transition was undoubtedly down to the partnership and collaboration between the regulatory authority, approved provider and central governing body sharing solutions with the best outcomes for children being paramount.
If you have been affected by the recent flood disaster in Queensland, contact your local Department of Education regional office to ensure successful case management of your service’s particular situation and needs.
The Higher Child Care Subsidy is now in place for eligible families with more than one child aged five or under in care, following measures introduced on Monday 7 March 2022.
Higher rates of 30 per cent, up to a maximum 95 per cent, apply for eligible children.
The standard rate continues to apply for one child in the family, typically the eldest, while higher rates are typically applied for younger children.
The following resources are available on the Department of Education, Skills and Employment website to help inform families at your service of the changes:
Most eligible families will already be benefitting from the new rates, which have been automatically applied by Services Australia.
The Child Care Subsidy System is being enhanced to recognise combined families from July 2022. Service Australia will backpay the higher Child Care Subsidy amount to combined families for the period March to July 2022.
Combined families that wish to receive the higher Child Care Subsidy before July 2022 can choose one parent or carer to claim CCS for all children in the family. More information on this process can be found on the Services Australia website.
We’ve made finding reports, videos and other resources easier with the launch of a new Resource Finder tool on the ACECQA website.
You can use this tool to search for more than 240 resources, and we’ll be adding more in future. Start by typing any key words into the search bar and then, if required, you can use the check boxes to refine your results by topic, category or resource type.
You can also use the ‘Export your search’ function to download a go-to spreadsheet containing titles and URLs for all the resources you’ve found on a searched topic.
Try out the new ACECQA Resource Finder.
To ensure you have access to the most up-to-date information, ACECQA's online resources are regularly updated. While print-outs and hard copies can be handy when you are busy at your service, remember our online resources provide the latest information.
Guide to the NQF
You can access the updated Guide to the NQF on the ACECQA website along with a summary table of all guidance changes. We suggest you always view the online version to make sure you have the most up-to-date information.
Melbourne-based service Essex Heights Juniors has been awarded the Excellent rating by ACECQA. The early learning centre and kindergarten was recognised for its positive workplace culture, inclusive relationships with children and families, and collaborative partnerships with professional, community or research organisations.
Notably, Essex Heights Juniors delivers exceptional services through its school transition processes, fortnightly visiting doctor services, and long-term partnership with its local council that has led to the development of two network groups for local education and care services.
The Essex Heights Juniors team celebrated their Excellent rating together with a trip to Sydney (pictured), continuing the group’s strong focus on workplace culture.
Read more about the service's achievements at Essex Heights Juniors has been awarded an Excellent Rating.
Service fees, vacancies, quality ratings and inclusions are now available on StartingBlocks.gov.au, helping parents choose the best early childhood education and care for their families.
Wondering how to update your details on StartingBlocks.gov.au Find Child Care? We’ve answered some common questions about keeping your information up to date.
How do I update my service email address?
You can update your contact details via the Provider Entry Point or your third-party software.
If you need help, please see the task card on reporting fees in the PEP or contact your third-party software provider.
How do I update the vacancies offered at my service?
You can update your vacancy details via the Provider Entry Point or your third-party software. Please see page 10 of the task card on reporting fees in the PEP or contact your third-party software provider.
Keep your service information updated on the NQA IT System as usual. This online tool offers providers secure direct communication with regulatory authorities and aims to reduce paperwork and duplication for approvals. Registered users can update service and provider details, lodge applications and notifications, and pay invoices.
Please update your communication products with old phone numbers like the My Child Hotline and Child Care Access Hotline with links to StartingBlocks.gov.au.
For enquiries relating to StartingBlocks.gov.au, please contact us.
- What children wear to education and care