What are the standards that a childcare service is governed by?
The minimum standard of operation a childcare service needs to abide by is currently set by their relevant state or territory government. In addition to this, the Australian Government established a formal quality assurance system for child care which built on and complemented state and territory government licensing regulations.
The Australian Government and all state and territory governments are now working together to introduce a new National Quality Framework (NQF) system to take effect from January 2012. The Framework will include a new National Regulatory System aimed at increasing national consistency of quality service delivery, reducing overlap and red tape and minimising the compliance burden on service providers.
The new system includes a new National Quality Standard to ensure high quality and consistent early childhood education and care across Australia. The Standard covers 7 key areas and aims to provide clarity about what is expected in the provision of quality education and care in Australia.
While improvements in quality is supported and welcomed by Child Care NSW, it must be noted that the Government has a responsibility to ensure that implementation of the changes, as required by the National Quality Agenda, does not adversely affect the affordability of childcare for our families and their children.
Each State and Territory will face its own challenges in implementing the reforms. Whether it be increasing the qualification standard of staff or increasing actual staff numbers or even reducing licensed capacity...the impact will be felt nationally.
It is our hope that the Federal Government recognises the importance of quality private and community childcare and the role it has in the lives working and non working families in both rural and non rural areas. The provision of childcare is vital to the social and economic well being of our communities, we must ensure the changes provide the maximum benefit for the children and their families with the minimal of adverse affect.
The 7 quality areas are as follows covered by the National Quality Standard;
- Educational program and practice
- Children's health and safety
- Physical environments
- Staffing arrangements
- Relationships with children
- Collaborative partnerships with families and communities
- Leadership and service management
The NQF will also introduce a new ratings system which combines the seven quality areas with a five point rating scale. Services will receive one of five ratings for each of the seven quality areas of the National Quality Standard along with an overall rating. The ratings will indicate whether the service is meeting, exceeding or not meeting the National Quality Standard.
For more information on the NQF, National Quality Standards and new ratings system click here