THE ROLE OF THE APPROVED PROVIDER
All preschool or long day care services must be operated by an Approved Provider (AP). This can be an individual, a body corporate, an eligible association, a partnership, or an entity such as a local council or church organisation.
APs should know their obligations under the following legislation:
- The National Quality Framework (NQF)
- The Education and Care Services National Law and:
- The Education and Care Services National Regulations.
The laws under which a body or individual are given Provider Approval are the:
- Children (Education and Care Services) National Law
- Education and Care Services National Regulations
The Approved Provider must hold a Provider Approval granted under the Children (Education and Care Services) National Law. This authorises the Approved Provider to operate and they must ensure that the organisation or company meets its responsibilities under the law and regulations.
You must be a “fit and proper person to be involved in the provision of an education and care service” If you are part of a company or board, you must keep your data updated regarding new members who may be asked to provide a range of documentation for assessment to ensure they are also suitable to hold their position. The “fitness” of a Provider can be reassessed at any time.
Approved Providers are responsible for ensuring their childcare centre complies with the law and regulations. The many elements of service operation must be checked, documented, and remain compliant.
You must have two separate approvals to operate an education and care service in Australia.
- Provider Approval – nationally recognised and enables providers to apply for Service Approvals in any state or territory.
- Service Approval – authorises an Approved Provider to operate a specific education and care service.
Fees apply to each of these, and an annual fee applies for ongoing Service Approval. Fees are scaled according to the size of the childcare centre.
A Service Approval is granted if the childcare centre is operated in a way that ensures:
- The safety, health, and wellbeing of the children; and
- The meeting of educational and developmental needs of the children in care.
Service or Provider Approval can be suspended or cancelled under the Law for a range of offences.
Tips for Approved Providers:
- Know your role and responsibilities under the national law and regulations.
- Create and know a set of clear policies and procedures and keep them up to date.
- Engage an experienced and knowledgeable Director.
- Participate in frequent and clear communication between yourself and the Director, and others who have decision making roles.
- Carefully select the right staff for your service then follow up with quality professional development.
- Be involved in centre operations – you are “liable” so need to understand what is happening.
- Establish smooth communication and compliance systems.
- Promote professional development for yourself and others who have management roles in your centre.
Operating an early childhood facility is a huge responsibility but it is also very rewarding when you see how well young children grow, learn and develop over time.