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1 for best practice management in early childhood education and care Response to the Consultation Regulation Impact Statement 2014 Review of the National Quality Framework For Early Childhood Education and Care January 2015 Response to RIS by CCSA to National Quality Framework for ECEC Review 2014 Page 4 of 23

2 Contents Executive Summary 6 About CCSA 8 General 11 Closing 12 Refining the National Quality Standard 13 Response to RIS by CCSA to National Quality Framework for ECEC Review 2014 Page 5 of 23

3 Executive Summary CCSA supports this review as an important element in ensuring an effective quality assurance system is in place and meets the objective of quality service provision for children and families. CCSA is fortunate to be in a position to comment on the implementation of the National Quality Framework across a broad range of delivery types and in both a for-profit and notfor-profit structure. CCSA is deeply involved in service provision, supporting services directly and indirectly, and provides this support in an integrated fashion with the requirements of the National Quality Framework (NQF). Our close relationships and regular contact provide a framework to provide informed feedback to stakeholders in the ECEC sector to facilitate an effective policy framework that reflects the needs of children, families and business both now and in the future. acknowledged that improvements can be made. Challenges have occurred since its implementation that largely have been the result of the pace of change required. The original time frames did not respond to a sector that was short on higher qualified staff, and particularly in relation to the experienced and knowledgeable managers needed to steer the implementation effectively. Necessary elements of effective change management, most importantly reasonable time to digest and understand the information, were not included in the implementation strategy. Appropriate time frames enable understanding to be developed and people to engage more effectively in the change process. This has led to misunderstanding and anxiety, predominantly in regard to expectations upon professional practice rather than the quality assurance system itself. This has resulted in providers and educators focussing upon this as a problem rather than recognising it as the foundation need for the introduction of the NQF including the important element of continuous improvement. In general CCSA members have embraced the NQF and have appreciate the validation it provides for much of their practice. However, this view is the result of having completed the quality assurance cycle when a rating has been achieved. Reflection on the experience has identified improved knowledge and understanding of quality practice both for individuals and for their services as a whole. For many it has led to increased and improved communication and better relationships with families. These are important ingredients that ment, but also help each service/business to demonstrate the quality they are providing. Parents also gain a better understanding of the value of their investment rather than simply being concerned about the cost. CCSA recognises that the timing of this review when planned would likely have taken a view that all services within the scope of the NQF would have completed the first cycle of the quality assurance system by This would have enabled all stakeholders to have experienced all elements of the system and be able to respond from a fully informed position. The fact that this this has not occurred indicates improvements are needed in the system but also raises questions regarding the reliability and effectiveness of an early review that leads to change based on incomplete information.

4 within the scope of the NQF being assessed and rated. Further, implementing changes to the National Quality Standard (NQS) in particular, without all services being assessed and rated, means that ratings determined would be under two different systems. This would undermine their reliability and be contrary to the intention of the introduction of the NQF and the value the majority of sector has now placed on it. sessment and rating process most are comfortable with both the process and the validation the result provides for their operation. - understanding of the system and its processes. There is still significant work required in upskilling the knowledge, understanding and skills in regard to quality education and care practices. Many of the concerns raised by providers are a product of these issues and reinforces the need for the NQF to improve the quality of ECEC in Australia. Quality outcomes for children are a direct result of the capability of educators and providers. It is important this review separates operational and management issues from professional practice so that the purpose of improving quality is not diminished by efforts to improve the system itself. For example, the fact that some providers and staff have difficulty understanding some professional language can be addressed by effective professional development. Improving quality for children and families is not assisted by removing or watering down professional language for educators. However, efforts to improve the efficiency of the assessment and rating process can improve the system. As this review considers the impact of proposed changes it is necessary to do this whilst taking into account the change that has already occurred and its impact. The system itself is still new. It introduced a requirement for practitioners and providers to gain an understanding of, and respond to, contemporary information and research regarding quality service provision through a process of continuous improvement. Many were daunted by this prospect having not had these expectations previously. In many cases providers and educators did not have the qualifications and/or experience necessary to feel confident about how it might be achieved. It was also a concern to many educators and providers as to how their practice and operations might be viewed and assessed by others. It is for these reasons that CCSA holds the firm view that no changes should be implemented to the NQS until all services have been assessed and rated. The impact of introducing further change prior to this would be to increase the regulatory burden on staff and the cost of operation for providers, not the least of which would be the necessity again review and adjust service policies in company as well as retrain staff. CCSA recognises that Improvements can be made to the both the system and the NQS. Two obvious examples are Making the assessment and rating process more efficient and Introducing management to quality area seven. although this has been improved in the suggested options for the RIS QA7 should be further strengthened in this area. The NQS needs to ensure the critical knowledge and skills necessary to drive effective implementation of the NQF system are present or developed in each service. Response to RIS by CCSA to National Quality Framework for ECEC Review 2014 Page 7 of 23

5 About CCSA CCSA is a peak body with a vision for sustainable and valued early childhood education and care (ECEC). CCSA partners with and advocates for ECEC services to develop healthy businesses that ensure positive outcomes for children and communities. We achieve this by providing leadership using our expertise in meeting the governance, management, training, business and industrial relations needs of early childhood education and care settings. CCSA has been operating for more than 45 years, supporting both commercial and not-forprofit ECEC services with governance, management and administration needs and supporting services to comply with workplace relations laws. We deliver an annual program of regional training that builds service capability, presenting up to thirty forums and workshops to ECEC services across NSW. This is complemented by providing training to individual services across the areas of organisational management, governance, financial management and leadership integrated with professional ECEC practice. We also contract to other support and training organisations to provide similar services. CCSA - supports all providers in the sector including boards and committees, individual owners, centre directors/coordinators/managers, administrators and educators. receives continuous feedback regarding service issues through its 1800 telephone support line and consultations, providing up to date information regarding service issues as well as being able to track change and its effect. has represented the sector industrially in both the state (NSW Industrial Relations Commission) and federal jurisdictions (Fair Work Commission) through submissions and providing expert evidence and information. We are currently involved with the FWC with the childcare pay equity case providing objective sector information as we are not aligned with either employers or unions. contributes at a political level in the sector through state and federal reference groups regarding legislation and regulation, policy and funding. is a member of the NSW Health & Community Services Industry and Advisory Board advisory group (ITAB) to the sector also includes - participating in NSW Department of Education and Communities and the national Department of Education advisory groups and roundtables Membership of the NSW Professional Experience Council (Universities, Registered Training Orga CCSA also has an 1800 management Infoline that receives more than eighty phone calls each week from Directors, committee members and staff. We also respond to more than twenty five items of written requests for assistance each week. delivers a state based conference for all levels of service providers and professionals is not aligned with employer groups or unions- the focus is on healthy and sustainable business which also facilitates good outcomes for children and families. Response to RIS by CCSA to National Quality Framework for ECEC Review 2014 Page 8 of 23

6 provides one to one support to ECEC services through our suite of consultancy services focused on building healthy and capable of organisations and professionals. More than 70 consultancies are undertaken each year, and these involve working directly witho boards and committees, o owners, o Directors (on-site managers), o administration staff and o educators/practitioners. This covers a range of needs includingo governance, o leadership, o management, o National Quality Framework, o Learning Frameworks, o strategic planning, o financial management, o managing change, o sustainability, o business planning, o Modern Awards and workplace relations, o dispute resolution and o mentoring and performance reviews of ECEC Directors. We have a rural and remote areas, from and remote issues. CCSA has worked with very small services through to large-scale multisite services. Currently CCSA has approximately 600 for profit and not-for-profit members across NSW which include Long day care Preschool Mobiles Outside School Hours Family Day Care Occasional Care Multi-purpose Early Intervention Recruitment agency A large number are located in regional areas. CCSA also plays a leadership and advocacy role at a state and national level in order to - advocate for high quality and affordable early childhood education and care services assist government develop and implement effective policy and understand sector needs increase community awareness about the value of quality ECEC experiences and qualified early childhood professionals. promote effective workplaces and excellence in service delivery being a key support for sustainable organisations and better outcomes for children. Response to RIS by CCSA to National Quality Framework for ECEC Review 2014 Page 9 of 23

7 CCSA is well placed to comment on the current and future needs of the sector as an ough its continuous involvement in the training and professional development in the sector, and through continuous engagement with both sides of the employment relationship and service delivery issues. The broad member base of service delivery types and governance structures provides an accurate sector view. y years experience in management, governance and policy positions within the ECEC sector in large, small and diverse organisations. Individual CCSA staff are also involved in teacher education at university level. CCSA acknowledges the continued valuable contribution of its members to the information provided in this submission as well as partner organisations, and makes this contribution to support effective public policy from both an economic and social perspective. Response to RIS by CCSA to National Quality Framework for ECEC Review 2014 Page 10 of 23

8 General CCSA supports the principle of regular review to ensure an effective and efficient quality assurance system for Australia. It is important in this process that regulatory requirements, being the operational component of delivery, are separated from professional practice. They are interrelated in the system, but separate elements in quality service provision. CCSA contends that many of the concerns raised in regard to the current system confuse these elements. The result is that the improvements needed in professional practice to improve quality have been incorrectly identified as regulatory burden. The National Quality Standard informs educators and providers as to accepted processes and standards to achieve improved quality. For some it introduces new language and requirements that may well be challenging. CCSA recognises that the NQS is effective in raising awareness in regard to the elements of quality for those with less knowledge and experience. It plays an important role in identifying these important elements and provides assistance through and its associated guide, provide the answers before prior to the test. This to improvement is an effective development strategy being a supportive process rather than punitive. it is to be expected that individuals affected by the introduction of the system will be less comfortable with change however necessary it might be. In fact, the effectiveness of the system might well be measured by how many services have improved their quality, and educators their practice, is spite of disliking the change. Clarity The RIS has raised the iss more one of lack of knowledge and understanding, often related to the qualifications and experience of those involved. Information and language that is new or unfamiliar can, and has, caused some concerns. However, this does not make it either incorrect or unclear. Rather it is indicative of the need for improved knowledge and understanding in the sector. In practice it proves the need for the introduction of the NQS, including the continuous improvement approach, and its direct relationship with professional development. It also supports the need for increasing the number of higher qualified staff over time as intended by the National Quality Agenda. Uncertainty The RIS also raises the issue of information costs caused by uncertainty in relation to compliance. CCSA acknowledges the concerns that have been raised but disagrees with the position the RIS takes. Though the practical outcome may well be true (acknowledging the the sector is one that is comprised of many lesser qualified and experienced staff and operators. It also needs to be recognised that the many small operators that make up the largest percentage of the sector (83% in scope) do not have a background in ECEC. These two issues are the significant contributor to the cost of overcoming uncertainty. It is a symptom of the capability of the sector and support the needs for improvement in this regard. Over time the NQF and its component NQS will likely improve this situation but it is unreasonable to expect this to be achieved in the short time it has been operating. However, if workforce strategies to attract and retain more qualified staff are not successful, the Response to RIS by CCSA to National Quality Framework for ECEC Review 2014 Page 11 of 23

9 situation will likely improve at a slower pace or not at all. In the mean time a robust NQF is needed to provide a clear road map for professional practice and service operation. Inconsistency The RIS also raises the issue of inconsistency. Some inconsistency is to be expected with the implementation of a new system that utilises the that a centralised national delivery model would address this issue and remove the possibility of jurisdictional interpretations. A national approach is better delivered nationally. Closing s only 40% of services nationally have received a rating. Rating is the point at which the quality assurance cycle is complete. Introducing changes to the NQS prior to all services having completed the first cycle will contribute to both inconsistency and reduce the reliability of the system. Further, the adjustments necessary to comply with changes will be costly and further exacerbate the concerns that already exist. It is for this reason that all services have been rated. However, CCSA acknowledges that improvements can be made to the NQS and agrees with many options presented in the RIS (see table below). In particular it is encouraging to see a greater emphasis placed on management as proposed in NQS Quality Area7. This could be further enhanced to improve service capability in this area as the critical driver of quality in both a business and professional sense. Response to RIS by CCSA to National Quality Framework for ECEC Review 2014 Page 12 of 23

10 Refining the National Quality Standard Forum submission attached as Appendix 1- Proposal CCSA position 1.7A No change Meeting the National Quality Standard is a acceptable level of quality. The overall rating is a good indicator that demonstrates working towards in any quality area means a service does not met the appropriate standard. 5.1B Agree CCSA recognizes that some service may receive a financial benefit and competitive advantage from such waivers. This fee should not apply in the case of mobile services should from meeting some requirements. 7.4B Agree CCSA supports this as a minimum certification for educators that predominantly work alone Disagree CCSA sees no reason why a service could not have evidence of insurance on the premises to indicate effective risk management practices. Response to RIS by CCSA to National Quality Framework for ECEC Review 2014 Page 13 of 23

11 Appendix 1: About Us. consists of NSW state-wide specialist organisations representing or supporting non-profit community based early education and services. These include peak organisations, resource agencies, co-ordinating bodies and large not-for-profit early education and care providers. Members who support this submission are: ACCS NSW, Community Child Care NSW, Community Connections Solutions Australia Inc. (CCSA), Contact Inc., ECA NSW, Ethnic Community Services Co-op, Australia, National Council of Social Service, NSW Family Day Care Association, Services Purpose of this response. This Forum members on the Regulatory Impact Statement. In addition all signatory organisations are including it in their individual organisational responses to the inquiry. Combined, our organisations represent the majority of peak organisations and large providers in the education and care sector in NSW. We hope, in view of this that the Productivity Commission considers these statements within this context. NSW education and care 1 In NSW around: 213,660 children attend long day care services 48,370 children use family day care or in-home care services 2,780 use occasional care 53,000 attend preschools 104,420 use outside school hour care services. There are around: 2,600 long day care services 167 family day care services and in Home care services 2500 outside school hours care services 800 community based preschools and 100 NSW Department of Education preschools 60 mobile (out of scope of NQF) services (long day care, preschool, occasional care) 36 occasional care services 1 www. docs.education.gov.au/system/files/doc/other/child care early learning in summary sept qtr 2013.pdf and nsw gov funding ece.pdf Response to RIS by CCSA to National Quality Framework for ECEC Review 2014 Page 14 of 23

12 Excluding preschools, 256,000 families use these services. Overarching Response We believe that some of the regulatory changes in the RIS are sensible changes that will make the operations of services under the Regulations simpler and/or will provide improvements to the education and care children will receive. We are very concerned about the proposal to change the National Quality Standard as we believe this process is not necessary at this stage, needs to be done with adequate sector input and will cause an increased regulatory burden for services, peak organisations, Regulators and ACECQA in undertaking the necessary work to ensure the sector is familiar with the revised standard. Refining the National Quality Standard and assessment and rating process Proposal 1.1 Reducing the complexity of the NQS Our preferred option 1.1A No change National Quality Standard through this NQF Review process. Our reasons for adopting this position are numerous but include: Changes itself increases regulatory burden and creates a cost impost on services which we believe is underestimated in the RIS. The change would require extensive professional development and resource provision to the sector which would have cost implications. Vocational training would also need to be changed to take into account the revised Standard. The proposed revised NQS no longer requires certain professional standards that we view as essential to the provision of high quality education and care. There is no guarantee that that the proposed streamlining of the NQS will reduce perceived or actual regulatory burden. Revising the NQS by merging standards and elements does not actually reduce the need to meet all aspects of the merged standards it makes it appear as if the NQS has been simplified when in fact it has not. The proposed revised NQS contains ambiguous language such language leaves standards and elements that are not clearly assessable. Response to RIS by CCSA to National Quality Framework for ECEC Review 2014 Page 15 of 23

13 Some key concepts from the learning frameworks are no longer present in the proposed Standard. We believe that there needs to be a separate process outside the current NQF Review to determine any changes that should be made to the NQS and that this work should be undertaken by an industry reference group. We believe that the Concept column could be added to the existing Standard as an interim measure because this gives further direction to services and Assessment and Compliance Officers. Proposal 1.2 Streamlining the quality assessment process Our preferred option 1.2B streamlining the process of assessment and rating and rating process could lead to greater consistency and accuracy of assessments and timeliness. We would like to see a streamlined approach encompassing the following elements: Assessment of regulatory compliance by Assessment and Compliance Officers as part of the Assessment and ratings visit should be reviewed and strategies identified for adopting an approach that reduces the regulatory burden for services maintaining a high standard and more effectively targets those services deemed at risk of non compliance. Services should be requested to self-assess for compliance via a checklist prior to the assessment visit. Authorised Officers would then do random audits on self-assessments via a risk assessment approach. Spot compliance checks should be included outside of the Assessment and ratings process. Further training for Assessment and Compliance Officers including training on how meeting the standards would appear in each sector type and how the standards should be assessed in services catering for culturally and linguistically diverse and Aboriginal communities. Assessment and Compliance officers holding sector specific qualifications and experience. Sector specific guidelines to be developed for Assessment and Compliance Officers including a glossary of terms for assessment and rating by sector type. This should be a publicly available document which could increase the capacity of educators to apply the standards to service delivery. Such guidelines would provide clarity to both educators, Response to RIS by CCSA to National Quality Framework for ECEC Review 2014 Page 16 of 23

14 assessors and families in the differences in how the Standard looks in each sector. Proposal 1.3 OSHC Documentation Our preferred option is that 1.3B (program not child level documentation) and 1.3C (retraining authorised officers) both be adopted. Training of Assessment and Compliance Officers in the context of OSHC services is currently inadequate. One day of sector specific training is not enough and training must include a practical component. The trainers delivering the training to Assessment and Compliance Officers must have a background in the OSHC sector and the Assessment and Compliance Officers must have relevant qualifications. Part of training must be supplied by educators or those with deep knowledge of the OSHC sector. Assessors need more training in their roles. Proposal 1.3 should be expanded to apply to school age children in any service type. Proposal 1.4 Significant Improvement Required Rating Our preferred option is 1.4B (removal of rating and ceasing of A&R process and Rating Suspended Pending Regulatory Compliance. Parents should be advised of this via a compulsorily displayed notice in the service and notices on MyChild and ACECQA websites. Proposal 1.5 Exceeding the NQS Rating Our preferred option is 1.5B (All standards to be met for the QA to be rated Exceeding) Proposal 1.6 Excellent Rating Our preferred option is 1.6B (Removing the Excellent Rating) We believe the existence of the Excellent Rating: Has little impact of quality improvement Response to RIS by CCSA to National Quality Framework for ECEC Review 2014 Page 17 of 23

15 Is iniquitous because of the cost not all services can afford to apply. The resources devoted to assessing services as excellent could be better used Is not where our focus should be when some services are not yet meeting standard. Is not truly reflective of quality how can a service be excellent if they have not obtained an exceeding rating in all elements excellent with some elements not exceeding The focus of the Assessment and Ratings Process should be on ongoing quality improvement for all services Proposal 1.8 Length of time between assessments Our preferred option is 1.8A No change. unknown. quality to be Removing supervisor certificate requirements Proposal 2.1 Removing supervisor certificates Our preferred option is 2.1B supervisor certificates Remove the requirement for Expanding the scope of the NQF Proposal 3.1 Additional services to be included in the NQF Our preferred option is 3.1C include services currently regulated outside of NQF. We believe eventually all BBF entre based services, occasional care services, playschools and mobiles should be under the NQF, but as a first step those that are currently regulated under state laws should be brought in scope. We believe it is essential that these services receive additional resources to enable them to work towards meeting the NQS and embedding the learning frameworks in their services where they do not currently. We also believe it is essential that Assessment and Compliance Officers receive additional training to enable them to assess these service types in a way that takes into account their unique service delivery. Response to RIS by CCSA to National Quality Framework for ECEC Review 2014 Page 18 of 23

16 Proposal 3.2 options for rating these services Our preferred option is 3.2A assess and rate these services the same way as others. Again these services need additional resourcing, recognition of their unique operating situations and appropriate training for Assessment and Compliance Officers. Extending some liability to educators Proposal 4.1 Extending liability to educators Our preferred option is 4.1A no change Changes to prescribed fees We do not support a 100% increase in fees. Fee increases should be annual and planned and maintained in accordance with CPI increases. National Educator to child ratio for OSHC services Proposal 6.1 OSHC ratios Our preferred option is 6.1B introduce an educator to child ratio for OSHC services We believe a 1:15 ratio is appropriate for school aged care children. Improved oversight of and support within FDC services Proposal 7.1 Approval of FDC across jurisdictions Our preferred option is 7.1B already introduced Proposal 7.2 Limit the number of educators per service Our preferred option is 7.2B already introduced Proposal 7.3 Ratio of FDC co-ordinators to educators Response to RIS by CCSA to National Quality Framework for ECEC Review 2014 Page 19 of 23

17 Our preferred option is 7.3D and Amend National law for new services with a savings clause for existing services of 7.3E and Amend National law We believe too many NSW FDC services would be forced to close if a ratio of 1:20 was introduced in the wake of the removal of Community Support Funding. We believe the ratio must be based on the numbers of Equivalent Full Time Educators not educators per se. Proposal 7.4 Mandating a minimum Certificate III for FDC educators We have no agreed preferred position on this proposal but we note that while the quality of some accredited training is not universally consistent, any requirements around mandated qualifications may not achieve the regulatory outcome desired. Our preferred option is 7.5B create an offence Proposal 7.6 Principal office notifications Our preferred option is 7.6B as it has already been mandated Proposal 7.7 Powers of entry Our preferred option is 7.7B as it has already been mandated Other changes which will have a regulatory impact Proposal Number Position Comment Approvals Agree Agree Agree Response to RIS by CCSA to National Quality Framework for ECEC Review 2014 Page 20 of 23

18 8.1.4 Agree Waivers Agree Supervisors Disagree We believe this is weakening of the existing regulations. The Regulatory Authority in NSW has always had the role of approving the Nominated Supervisor appointed and we believe this should continue. We believe the Approved Provider should be authorised to determine the Responsible Person at any one time Agree Agree Agree Agree Agree Agree We believe rather than nominating a new term the term Responsible Person should be retained in lieu of Certified Supervisor Agree We believe the appropriate training is a nationally recognised Response to RIS by CCSA to National Quality Framework for ECEC Review 2014 Page 21 of 23

19 child protection qualification. Operational Issues Disagree We disagree strongly that weakens the requirements for services tomake adequate arrangements for employing qualified early childhood teachers at all times. Although we note the NSW savings provision we believe this should be extended to all states Agree As long as the guidance in no way extends the time period where ratios do not need to be met Agree Compliance, review, monitoring and enforcement Agree Agree Agree Agree This clarification is important for community based management committees. Information sharing Agree Agree Response to RIS by CCSA to National Quality Framework for ECEC Review 2014 Page 22 of 23

20 8.6.3 Agree Administrative requirements Agree Serious risk will need to have a very clear definition including examples Agree No comment Transitional and savings provisions No comment Response to RIS by CCSA to National Quality Framework for ECEC Review 2014 Page 23 of 23

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