ACECQA Newsletter Issue 9 2018

Little girl lying on a mattress on the floor

Safe sleep and rest practices

A key objective of the National Quality Framework (NQF) is to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of children attending education and care services. Effective sleep and rest practices support each child’s wellbeing and comfort and include appropriate opportunities to meet each child’s need for sleep, rest and relaxation (Element 2.1.1). These strategies reinforce children’s rights to quality education and care in an environment that provides for their health and safety.

Regulation 168 of the National Regulations requires all approved providers of education and care services to have in place sleep and rest policies and procedures that meet the ages, development stages and individual needs of all children (Regulation 81).

Education and care services have a duty of care to ensure children are provided with a high level of safety when sleeping and resting and every reasonable precaution is taken to protect them from harm and hazard. It is critical that services ensure children are provided with safe sleeping environments, with policies and procedures based on recommended evidence-based principles and guidelines. Educators can also play an important role in providing safe sleeping advice to families aimed at reducing the risk of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI) including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and fatal sleeping accidents. 

Red Nose is considered the recognised national authority on safe sleeping practices for infants and children. Approved providers and service leaders are encouraged to use this resource to regularly review and maintain the most up-to-date sleep and rest policies and procedures. 

Supervision during sleep and rest time

Supervision is key to children’s health and safety. Section 165 of the National Law requires the approved provider, nominated supervisor and family day care educator to ensure all children being educated and cared for by the service/educator are adequately supervised at all times. This includes active monitoring and the maintenance of adequate supervision during sleep and rest periods. While ratios alone do not ensure adequate supervision, the educator to child ratios prescribed in Regulation 123 must be maintained at all times – including during sleep and rest periods.    

The Guide to the National Quality Framework suggests the circumstance and needs of each child should be considered to determine any risk factors that may impact on the adequate supervision of sleeping children. For example, babies or children with colds or chronic lung disorders might require a higher level of supervision while sleeping.

The Guide also recommends monitoring and observing sleeping and resting children. In particular, children aged birth to three years should be within sight and hearing distance so educators can assess their breathing and the colour of their skin to ensure their safety and wellbeing.      

Resources and information

On the ACECQA website you will find a video developed by ACECQA in collaboration with Red Nose that outlines the links between the National Quality Framework requirements and safe sleeping practices. On our Safe sleep and rest practices page, you will also find information about recommended evidence-based guidelines to assist in developing sleep and rest policies and procedures. The Red Nose website also includes a number of free safe sleeping resources, as well as other resources available for purchase, such as an online safe sleeping eLearning course and the Red Nose Safe Sleeping Child Care Kit for education and care services.

The Queensland Department of Education and Training has released fact sheets, short educational videos and positive practice examples drawing on research undertaken by the Australian-based Sleep in Early Childhood Research Group. The Sleep Learning for Early Education Professionals (SLEEP) resources provide information about healthy sleep development in children aged birth to three years and insights into quality practices to support sleep, rest and relaxation in education and care services.

Almost 80% of services rated Meeting NQS or above

Cover of NQF Snapshot Q2 2018

Almost eight out of 10 services with a quality rating (78%) have an overall rating of Meeting National Quality Standard (NQS) or above, according to data in the NQF Snapshot, Q2 2018. A total of 6638 services are rated Meeting NQS, with a further 4834 rated Exceeding NQS and 52 awarded the Excellent rating – the highest rating an education and care service can achieve under the National Quality Framework (NQF).

As at 30 June 2018, 14,794 education and care services – 94% of all services approved to operate under the NQF – have received a quality rating. (Note: The proportion of services with a quality rating will never reach 100% as new and recently approved services may not yet be rated).

A revised version of the NQS commenced on 1 February 2018. NQF Snapshots published before this date included analysis at the standard and element level. This analysis will be reintroduced in the next NQF Snapshot published in November.

Connecting children to food

Little girl crouching near an outdoor garden bed

Originating in 2001 and supporting over 1600 schools and services across Australia, the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program (SAKGP) is continuing to engage children, educators and services in positive, hands-on food education. Based on a philosophy of ‘Pleasurable Food Education’ – teaching children to grow, harvest, prepare and share fresh, seasonal, delicious food – the program’s purpose is to ensure children develop strong relationships with nutritious food from a young age and form positive habits for life. Following great success in primary schools, a SAKGP model is currently being developed specifically for the early years’ sector. ACECQA is supporting this exciting initiative, providing advice through membership of their advisory committee.

The program enables education and care services to holistically engage with food education and connect and embed their practice across multiple National Quality Standard quality areas. Links between a service’s educational program and practice, children’s health and safety, physical environment, relationships with children, and collaborative partnerships with families and communities can be supported and strengthened.

Services wishing to learn more about the SAKGP can access professional development and educational resources and also become members of their Foundation. The SAKGP website has a variety of educational resources, including gardening guides, starter tips, recipes, curriculum links, tools for teachers and educators, and materials targeted specifically for the early years and primary sector. Services wishing to connect with and learn from the experiences of other education and care services or schools delivering pleasurable food education can use an Australia-wide, interactive Community Map.

Did you miss the ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ blog series?

Group photo of children, families, community members and educators at a service

During July, ACECQA’s We Hear You blog featured a special five-part series from our National Education Leader, Rhonda Livingstone, exploring the role of community in ‘It takes a village to raise a child’.

Considering community as a concept embedded in the National Quality Framework (NQF) and the National Quality Standard (NQS) in Quality Area 6, the first instalment explores a ‘sense of community’ and the way it is connected to place, people and shared purpose.

In the second instalment, we develop our discussion to identify why community is important to children’s developmental and educational outcomes. We consider the way community promotes belonging and a sense of identity and learning, while connecting children and families to supportive relationship and resource networks.

Developing the idea of supportive networks, the third instalment considers six strategies to help you identify your community and create effective collaboration, while the fourth instalment outlines a number of practical approaches for building and developing relationships with community members.

Concluding the series, the fifth instalment turns its focus to the way meaningful engagement and collaboration between education and care community members strengthen quality outcomes for children. Emphasising the ongoing participation and inclusion of all community members and children’s voices, we explore a variety of formal and informal ways to engage with and in your community and promote participation.

Read the complete series on the We Hear You blog.

Starting Blocks resources for families

Little girl peering from behind an large red maple leaf

Starting Blocks, ACECQA’s family focused website, has been updated with new resources that can help support the parents, carers and families at your education and care service.

The Tips for Parents page features a new article on how you can help your child settle into an education and care service, including information about the way services can assist a child to settle.

The Starting Blocks At Home page now also includes guides on sleeping baby safely, choosing a safe cot, and toilet training.

All the factsheets and infographics on the website are available as easily accessible webpages and printable PDFs. 

Visit Starting Blocks to view the range of articles and factsheets and share with your networks.

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