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Developing policies and procedures

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Approved providers of education and care services must ensure policies and procedures are in place to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of children in their care.

Purpose

A service’s policies and procedures should outline the processes to be followed by all staff employed by the service and guide them to meet their legislative requirements under the Education and Care Services National Law (National Law) (PDF, 1.8MB) and National Regulations (PDF, 2.1MB) or the Education and Care Services Act 2013 (ECS Act).

Policies and procedures also help to inform families how the service operates.

What is a policy?

A policy is a course or principle of action adopted or proposed by an organisation or individual that includes clear, simple statements about how the organisation intends to conduct its services, actions or business. Policies also provide a set of guiding principles to help with decision making.

What is a procedure?

A procedure is a detailed description of how each policy will be put into action by an organisation. Each procedure should clearly outline:

  • who will do what
  • what steps they need to take and when
  • which supporting forms or documents to use.

A procedure should provide step-by-step instructions for each staff member and any other person who uses, attends or spends time at the service. This can include the approved provider, nominated supervisor, coordinator, educators, educator assistants, other staff members, volunteers, students on practicum, persons delivering extra curricula activities to children at the service, families and other authorised persons.

A well written procedure will enable people working or volunteering at the service to know exactly what they need to do in a particular circumstance to ensure the health, safety and well-being of children using the service.

Adequacy of policies and procedures

Every service is different, so policies and procedures need to address each service’s operations and its unique context. Generic policies and procedures should not be applied to multiple services.

Refer to the department’s guidelines when developing your service’s policies and procedures to ensure they cater for your service’s unique circumstances and ensure children’s safety, health and wellbeing.

Services operating under the National Law must ensure they have policies and procedures in place relating to categories listed in regulation 168 and in addition for family day care services regulation 169 of the National Regulations.

Services may have additional policies and procedures beyond those listed in the regulations depending on the particular operations of the service. This is a decision for the approved provider.

Services operating under the ECS Act must have policies and procedures relating to categories listed in section 65 of the ECS Act.

The adequacy of a proposed service’s policies and procedures is taken into account as part of its application for service approval. If all relevant policies and procedures are not provided with an application for service approval and do not follow the relevant principles, they may be assessed as inadequate by the Regulatory Authority.

When developing policies and procedures, an approved provider may seek assistance from relevant peak organisations. Approved providers may consider seeking advice from other reputable early childhood services in their local area.

Early childhood service policies and procedures must:

  • Be presented in a logical format
    A policy and procedure about a particular topic should be self-contained with all relevant information included in the specific policy and procedure. Educators and other staff should not have to search through a number of policies to locate information about a particular topic. For example, all information relevant to water safety should be contained in the one discrete policy and procedure. It may be cross-referenced in other policies and procedures if necessary.
  • Be current
    Policies and procedures must refer to current legislation. Approved providers must ensure that any legislative amendments, which have taken effect prior to submitting a service approval application, have been incorporated.
  • Be clear and fit for their purpose
    Policies and procedures are designed to be a step-by-step guide for those who have the responsibility for implementing them. Roles and responsibilities must be clearly set out, so each person knows exactly what and when to do something.
  • Be complete
    Any documentation referred to in the policies and procedures must be made available to the Regulatory Authority upon request.
  • Be service-specific
    Generic policies and procedures developed by approved providers are not always relevant for staff to carry out their obligations or functions within the context of specific service environments and premises. While policy positions and principles may be the same, the procedure must be tailored to the individual environment (physical and social) of the service.
  • Be service-type specific
    Policies and procedures must be written specific to the service type. Policies and procedures for a centre-based service, such as long day care or outside school hours care, will be different to those for a family day care service.
  • Be based on best practice principles
    Policies and procedures should refer to accepted applicable community standards (based on current research) and recommendations of relevant expert bodies, such as Kidsafe, Red Nose, the National Health and Medical Research Council (Staying Healthy) and Cancer Council Queensland.
  • Be accessible to all staff and families
    Policies and procedures must be accessible for any individual involved in the service (staff and families). For example, when educators have English as a second language, it is expected that the approved provider will translate their policies and procedures into the relevant languages used.
  • Be regularly considered and reviewed by staff for induction, training and review purposes
    All staff should receive an induction and regular training on the policies and procedures for a service. Policies and procedures should be regularly discussed and revised especially after incidents, complaints or events. For example, after each excursion, relevant policies and procedures should be discussed and revised (including with families) to drive continuous improvement.

Related information

Learn more about an approved provider’s responsibilities relating to policies and procedures:

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Last updated 30 September 2020