In Tasmania a significant number of children aged birth to 12 years attend Education and Care (E&C) services. These comprise: Long Day Care (LDC), Outside School Hours Care (OSHC), including Before and After School Care and Vacation Care, Family Day Care (FDC) and Occasional Care services.
The Australian E&C sector has experienced a period of significant growth and development in the last decade. In 2009, Being, Becoming and Belonging: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (EYLF) was introduced for all early childhood settings. Following this, My Time, Our Place: Framework for School Aged Care in Australia (MTOP) was introduced in 2011.Today, both frameworks provide educators working in the E&C sector with consistent, research-based guidance in relation to supporting children’s learning and wellbeing. Additionally, both frameworks guide practices that support children’s successful transitions between home, education and care settings, and school.
The National Quality Framework (NQF), introduced in 2012, “is designed to ensure a uniform and integrated approach to the regulation and quality assessment of education and care services across Australia” (Kearns 2017, p. 6). A national body, Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA), guides and monitors the implementation of the NQF to promote consistency across all states and territories. In Tasmania, the NQF is administered and monitored by the Department of Education (DoE) Education and Care Unit (ECU).
The NQF consists of four inter-related components:
- The ‘National Law’ – Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010 (Vic)
- The ‘Regulations’ – Education and Care Services National Regulations 2017
- The ‘NQS’ – National Quality Standard for Early Childhood Education and Care 2018
- The ‘Approved Learning Frameworks’ – The EYLF and MTOP.
Within the E&C sector, the term ‘educator’ is used to describe the range of practitioners who plan and deliver programs that support children’s wellbeing, development and learning. There are differing qualification requirements for educators working in school-aged care and early years services in Tasmania. These are outlined on the ACECQA website.
Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) has grown from a small number of ‘supervised playgrounds’ operated in Melbourne and Sydney in the early 1900s (Moyle, Meyer, & Evans, 1997), to an extensive and dynamic national service that plays a critical role in the lives of a growing number of children and families today. Since 2011, the My Time Our Place Framework (MTOP) and the National Quality Framework (NQF), have guided OSHC services to develop programs that demonstrate “a vision for children’s learning through play and leisure” (Department of Education and Training 2011, p. 6). OSHC programs are provided in a range of community settings, but most frequently operate from school sites.
Reference: Helen Moyle, Paul Meyer and Ann Evans (1997) Outside School Hours Care Services in Australia 1996. AIHW cat. no. CFS 2. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (Children’s Services Series Number 3).
Vacation Care provides play and leisure activities for children requiring care during school holiday periods. Educators working in Vacation Care settings, like Outside School Hours Care (OSHC), are guided by the My Time Our Place Framework (MTOP) when planning experiences, and when working alongside children. Vacation Care programs are provided in a range of community settings, but most frequently operate from school sites.
Long Day Care (LDC) is available to children, usually aged between birth and 5 years, within centre-based learning spaces that comply with National Law and Regulations. The delivery of education and care programs in LDC services is guided by the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF), which communicates a vision for children’s learning through three guiding themes: Belonging, Being and Becoming.
Educators working in LDC settings are required to hold or be working towards the minimum ACECQA approved qualification, which is currently Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care. Additionally, many LDC educators hold, or are working towards, ACECQA approved Diploma, Advanced Diploma, Degree and Post-Graduate qualifications.
Depending on the number of children in attendance, there is a requirement under National Law and Regulations for centre-based services to engage or have access to a qualified early childhood teacher. This will change in 2020, when provision of a second early childhood teacher will be required at services with over 60 children in attendance.
Occasional care services offer child care on a limited number of days of the week and/or operate for shorter hours on the days that care is available. Most services provide care for children under school age. Occasional Care is regulated under the Child Care Act, 2001 and Tasmanian Licensing Standards for Centre Based Child Care, Class 5 (0-12 years), October 2014.
Family Day Care (FDC) offers approved child care in an educator’s home. FDC educators work with no more than four children under school age and can care for an additional three school-aged children outside of school hours. FDC educators are required to hold equivalence with or be working towards the minimum ACECQA approved qualification, which is currently Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care. The delivery of education and care programs in FDC services is guided by the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and the My Time Our Place Framework (MTOP) and regulated under the National Law.
Educators are registered with an approved FDC Service. FDC service providers are responsible for monitoring and supporting FDC educators to ensure quality education and care is provided to each child.