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.
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).
Services operating under the National Law must ensure they have policies and procedures in place relating to categories listed in regulation 168 and, for family day care services, additionally those listed in regulation 169 of the National Regulations.
Services operating under the ECS Act must have policies and procedures relating to categories listed in
regulation 65 of the ECS Regulation 2013.
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.
What are policies and procedures?
A policy is a set of general guidelines about how the organisation conducts its services, actions or business. Policies also provide a set of guiding principles to help with decision making.
A well written policy is clear, concise and uses simple language. It explains the rule, not how to implement it.
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.
Why are policies and procedures important?
Policies and procedures are important because they help to guide all people at the service to know what to do to meet the
objectives of the National Quality Framework, including ensuring:
- the safety, health and wellbeing of children attending education and care services
- the educational and developmental outcomes of children attending education and care services.
The adequacy of policies and procedures is an important consideration when the Regulatory Authority determines applications for service approval.
- The Regulatory Authority may advise approved providers if their policies and procedures are
assessed as inadequate and refer them to the
- If policies and procedures remain inadequate the Regulatory Authority may determine that there would be an unacceptable risk to children’s safety, health and wellbeing should the service be permitted to operate.
Adequacy of policies and procedures
The Regulatory Authority considers the adequacy of a proposed service’s policies and procedures when determining an application for service approval. Approved providers must prepare all required policies and procedures prior to applying for service approval*. They must provide the relevant policies and procedures when requested.
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.
When developing policies and procedures, an approved provider may seek assistance from relevant peak organisations. Approved providers may also 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. 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
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
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
complete: Any documentation referred to in the policies and procedures must be made available to the Regulatory Authority upon request
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
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
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
Red Nose, the
National Health and Medical Research Council (Staying Healthy) and
Cancer Council Queensland
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
regularly considered and reviewed by staff: 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.
*Note: For centre-based services, the Regulatory Authority recognises that certain policies and procedures may still be under development at the time an application is made, where they are reliant upon consideration of the final premises design and/or construction. In this case, at the time of lodging an application, the applicant must indicate which of the required policies and procedures are incomplete and why.
Ensuring policies and procedures are followed
If your service approval is granted, policies and procedures should be regularly reviewed and updated to reflect changes at the service. Inadequate policies and procedures may lead to breaches of the law and or regulations. Use the department’s guidelines to regularly review your service’s policies and procedures (and keep families informed of any changes, as per
Having the necessary policies and procedures is vitally important, but it is also the responsibility of approved providers to take reasonable steps to ensure policies and procedures are followed (regulation 170). Approved providers should follow these 6 steps to help meet their responsibilities:
- Ensuring policies and procedures are readily available and accessible to staff as required.
- Providing staff with adequate onboarding and ongoing support to ensure their knowledge and skills are up to date.
- Regularly reviewing and maintaining policies and procedures.
- Regularly monitoring the implementation of policies and procedures to ensure staff are following them correctly.
- Promptly addressing any non-compliance with policies and procedures.
- Ensuring there are enough resources and time allocated to enable staff to comply with policies and procedures.
Read more about
ensuring policies and procedures are followed, which is one of the Regulatory Authority’s