How to keep fences child-proof in family day care settings


Playing outdoors is vital for children’s health and development.

To ensure the safety of children, approved providers are required to meet National Regulations in regard to fencing requirements.

To comply with the National Regulations, approved family day care providers must ensure that any outdoor space that is part of the family day care premises is enclosed by a fence or barrier.

Most importantly, the fence or barrier must be of a height and design that children, preschool age or under, cannot go through, over or under it.

Educators play a key role in ensuring children cannot climb fences using footholds in situations where:

  • the design of the fence allows it to be used as a ladder
  • objects, such as play equipment, have been placed against the fence or attached to it
  • a tree stump or branch is located in such a way that it could be used to climb the fence.

Fences made of certain materials, such as flexible chain wire, rigid wire mesh, or horizontal slats, can present a climbing risk.

However, in some cases, a chain wire or rigid wire mesh fence may not be a risk to children. Here are some examples:

  • dense vegetation may be planted against the fence so that it stops children from getting close to it
  • the fence is so high that children couldn’t climb it even if they used the vegetation as a platform
  • chain wire may be covered with tightly fitting material so that a child couldn’t use the gaps in the wire to gain a foothold. In this case, the condition of the material would need to be checked regularly so that it’s kept taut and in good repair to stop children from climbing the fence.

The way in which your service addresses the risk of certain fencing materials should be identified as part of a risk assessment

Approved providers should develop this risk assessment with input from educators. Ongoing safety checks should be part of the risk assessment. Regularly reviewing the design and maintenance of fencing at your service is also good practice.

If an educator fails to provide adequate supervision, the perimeter fence is designed to prevent under-school-age children from leaving the premises unaccompanied or undetected.

If the fencing does not meet these requirements, excursion and regular outings provisions cannot be used as a substitute for allowing children to play in that space.

Approved providers must assess each proposed family day care residence and family day care venue before education and care is provided, and at least every year after that. Note: A family day care service can operate at a venue only in exceptional circumstances and if the Regulatory Authority has approved it (Education and Care Services National Law, s 50A).

As part of this assessment, the approved provider must consider whether the fence around outdoor play spaces is adequate, and its ongoing maintenance.

For more information, read the department’s factsheet Fencing requirements at a family day care residence (PDF, 158KB) and R104 of the Education and Care Services National Regulations.

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Last updated 17 October 2019