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Child Care National Quality Framework

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Hello Everyone,

Welcome to my Children’s Services news blog.

My name is Anne Lynch and I have taught children for 20 years. I thought I would start out in an official capacity, and include a portion of the letter I received from Kate Ellis (minister for Early Childhood Education, Child Care and Youth). This letter was received in early December, and outlines the huge changes that the Federal Government has outlined for the Child Care industry across Australia.

The changes can only be met with a big sigh of “Oh Yes, finally!!!” as the industry has been in dire need of an overhaul for many a long year. Her letter states:

“Research shows us that positive experiences in a child’s early years have a significant impact on their future health, development, learning, wellbeing and potential achievement throughout their life.”

That is why the Australian Government, in partnership with all state and territory governments, is making important changes to early childhood education and care in Australia to ensure that our children get the best possible start in life. This is being done through the introduction of a National Quality Framework. The National Quality Framework will put in place a new National Quality Standard to ensure high quality and consistent early childhood education and care across Australia. The new National Quality Standard will cover long day care, family day care, outside school hours care and preschool services…

The new National Quality Standard will deliver:

• Lower staff-to-child (great for those wanting to enter into a career of childcare!) ratios so each carer has more time to spend with each individual child.

New qualification requirements for all early childhood education workers so staff can lead play-based activities that help children learn and develop.

• A new transparent quality rating system,which will allow families to easily compare the quality on offer at different child care services so informed decisions can be made about the best care for your child.

• A new national body established between the Australian Government and the states and territories to oversee the new standard.

Lower staff-to-child ratios will mean each staff member can give more care and attention to each child, ensuring that there are more highly qualified staff is also important as research shows that staff with higher qualifications are usually better able to get improved outcomes for children and are more able to guide each child’s individual learning.

The new quality rating system will provide parents with transparent information about the level of quality a service is providing.

All services will be required to comply with the new framework by 1 January 2012, with staff-to-child ratio and staff qualification changes occurring gradually over a period of time, to give the sector time to adjust…

In total, the Australian Government is investing $16 billion in early childhood education and child care over the next four years, including more than $13 billion to assist families with the costs of child care through the Child Care Rebate and the Child Care Benefit.

For additional information on these changes you can telephone 1800 181 088; email ECECQualityReformEnquiries@deewr.gov.au; or visit www.mychild.gov.au

The staff-to-child ratios, listed below, will be put in place across Australia:

Age GroupStaff-to-child ratioTimeframe for Compliance
Long Day Care and PreschoolBirth to 24 months1 staff member to 4 children1 January 2012
Long Day Care and Preschool25 to 35 months1 staff member to 5 children *1 January 2016
Long Day Care and Preschool36 months to school age1 staff member to 11 children**1 January 2016
Long Day Care and PreschoolMixed Age GroupsA proportional formula will be applied based on the above ratios1 January 2012

*A staff-to-child ratio of 1:4 for children 25 to 35 months will be retained in Victoria where this ratio currently applies, instead of 1:5 under the National Quality Standard.

**A staff-to-child ratio of 1:10 for children 36 months to school age will be retained in New South Wales, Western Australia and Tasmania where this ratio currently applies, instead of 1:11 under the National Quality Standard.

Family Day CareMixed age groups of children1 staff member to 7 children with a maximum of four children not yet attending school1 January 2014
Outside School Hours CareSee below

The National Quality Standard and ratings system will also apply to Outside School Hours Care but at this stage no changes to staff-to-child ratios or staff qualifications are proposed.

The new framework will be in place by 1 January 2012, with changes to staff-to-child ratios and qualifications being phased in over a number of years.

More Highly Qualified Staff

Another key change under the National Quality Standard is the introduction of new requirements for early childhood education and care services to have more highly qualified staff.

The following qualification requirements for staff will apply:

By 1 January 2014:

  • An early childhood teacher will need to be in attendance all of the time when long day care and preschool services are being provided to 25 children or more.
  • An early childhood teacher will need to be in attendance some of the time when long day care and preschool services are being provided to less than 25 children.
  • Within each long day care centre or preschool, half of all staff will need to have (or be actively working towards) a Diploma-level early childhood education and care qualification or above, and the remaining staff will all be required to have (or be actively working towards) a Certificate III level early childhood education and care qualification or equivalent.
  • All family day care coordinators will need to have a diploma-level early childhood education and care qualification or above.
  • All family day carers will be required to have (or be actively working towards) a Certificate III level early childhood education and care qualification, or equivalent.

By 1 January 2020:

  • A second early childhood teacher, or another suitably qualified leader, will need to be in attendance all of the time when long day care and preschool services are being provided to more than 80 children.
  • A second early childhood teacher, or another suitably qualified leader, will need to be in attendance at least half of the time when long day care and preschool services are being provided to 60 children or more.

So what does all this means for Australia’s child care industry and early childhood education on the whole?

Lower Staff ratios + greater staff qualification requirements = Increased demand for childcare workers (great for those about to study child care!) + better qualified staff at childcare centers (and greater opportunities in the future for those wanting to go on to do their Diploma of Children’s Services) = better quality care for Australia’s children overall!  A win for the childcare industry and parents right across the country!

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