FAQs for the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) Sector

WT3 is a Tasmanian Government initiative which is opening up opportunities for eligible three year old children to participate in free, quality early learning.

WT3 is aligned to the three key elements of Tasmania’s Strategy for Children – Pregnancy to Eight Years 2018-2021 which are Quality, Equity and Partnerships. The strategy assists in fostering a culture of quality and collaborative partnerships across sectors and government.

In 2019 WT3 is being piloted with 10 service partners and families who are involved in a facilitated co-design process which aims to test a range of conditions.

Findings from the WT3 co-design process will support the design of the broader roll-out of the 2020 initiative.

For the pilot, the Department of Education is funding 55 places across five locations. Each place offers 400 hours of early learning plus wrap-around support services.

During the pilot, from March to December 2019, 55 eligible three year olds will access between 10 to 15 hours a week of early learning over two to three sessions. The early learning program is designed and delivered by qualified early childhood teachers (ECTs) and/or diploma qualified educational leaders in early childhood education and care settings.

The WT3 initiative’s design will be guided by what works on the ground – an inclusive co-design approach will support the building of strong partnerships between Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) providers, schools, community services and allied health.

The aim of co-designing WT3 is also to be inclusive of families and children during the design process to ensure their lived experiences are acknowledged as valid and valuable and they play an active role in making decisions that shape their lives.

As both a method and a mindset, co-design works from the principle that people and communities have the wisdom and lived experience to play an active role in decisions that affect them.  During the WT3 pilot, the WT3 team is collaborating with The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI), Tasmanian Council of Social Services (TasCOSS), families, children, Early Childhood Education and Care services, Child and Family Centres and schools.

This collaboration occurred during the phase two co-design workshops which were held in December 2018 and were facilitated by TACSI working with children, families and staff from the ECEC, education, health, and community service sectors. These workshops built on the learnings from the phase one co-design workshops which were held with the sector in November 2017.

During the 2019 pilot, a Local Enabling Group (LEG) will be established in each of the five pilot locations. The purpose of the LEG is to lead, test and review ideas and practice and more broadly foster community awareness of the benefits of quality early learning for three year olds. The LEGs will comprise of parents, educators, support services and community members. Anyone interested in joining their local LEG please email the Working Together for 3 Year Olds Project Officer: Louise Looby at WT3@education.tas.gov.au

Ongoing evaluation will be embedded into the co-design from March – July.

A child is eligible to participate in the WT3 pilot if they were born between 2 January 2015 and 31 March 2016 and are not attending an Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) service at the date of enrolment and meets the Eligibility Criteria.

The eligibility criteria is any one or all of the following:

A child:

  • whose parent or primary caregiver holds a health care card
  • who is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent
  • where support or intervention is occurring through Child Safety Services,
  • or if the child meets at least two of the vulnerability criteria identified through the Parents’ Evaluation of Development Status (PEDS) tool.

During the pilot, children have been identified through a range of referral pathways including Child and Family Centres, personal contacts, social workers, community services including TasCOSS, Save the Children, Migrant Resource Centres and the Salvation Army.

Families have also actively sought out the opportunity after hearing about it from a media story, on social media or from the WT3 promotional postcard.
ECEC also contacted eligible families who were not able to afford the early learning program to offer this this opportunity.

Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS) is an evidence-based method for detecting and addressing developmental and behavioural issues in children aged from birth to seven years and 11 months.

The PEDS tool is designed for use with parents for children from birth to 8 years of age and comprises of eight questions which elicit parental concern about specific domains of learning, development and behaviour and two questions that are about more general concerns.

After the parent completes the questionnaire, the practitioner, in partnership with the parent, scores and interprets parent concerns. Skilful application of PEDS supports the early detection of developmental and behavioural concerns in babies and children.

The PEDS form can be used across multiple interviews with parents to follow children over time. This is where the PEDS has the ability to be a model for inter-sectorial communication around child development and behaviour.

For more information about the use and research of PEDS, click here.

To ensure quality implementation of the PEDS tool, each practitioner using the tool is required to participate in a PEDS training program. Training programs aim to provide practitioners with the knowledge, skills and confidence to implement PEDS well. Training programs are regularly updated based on the latest early childhood research.

Hayley Perkins will provide PEDS training to WT3 Service Partners from early March 2019. For more information email Hayley Perkins at WT3@education.tas.gov.au

The WT3 pilot runs from February to December 2019.

For the 2019 pilot, WT3 will be delivered in five locations:

  • Devonport
  • Launceston – with a focus on Mowbray, Rocherlea and Newnham
  • Derwent Valley – with a focus on New Norfolk and Fairview
  • Glenorchy
  • Kingborough – with a focus on Kingston and Blackmans Bay

WT3 focuses on removing barriers to participating in quality early learning for Tasmanian three year old children.

The initiative has been developed to incorporate two components:

  1. the early learning program – 10 to 15 hours per week over two to three sessions
  2. the wrap-around support services to support the child and family

Within each service, WT3 will be delivered by:

  1. an early childhood teacher (ECT) or Educational Leader and
  2. suitably qualified staff who have the ability and capacity to deliver wrap-around support services.

The early learning program must be designed and delivered by an ECT who holds a National Quality Framework (NQF) approved early childhood teacher qualification or an Educational Leader with a minimum qualification of a NQF-approved diploma level education and care qualification.

An Educational Leader can deliver WT3 provided the following criteria are met:

  1. the service is meeting Element 7.2.2 of the National Quality Standard (NQS); and
  2. the service’s management has provided a written statement outlining the Educational Leader’s suitability in providing a quality program for WT3, including that delivery by the Educational Leader would be in the best interests of all children attending the service; and
  3. the Educational Leader holds a minimum qualification of a NQF-approved diploma level education and care qualification.

Individuals can check their qualification status here.

The transition to school from WT3 will be a considered, respectful and tailored process for children and families and developed in consultation by the WT3 service, family and school setting. All Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) services participating in the pilot are funded to provide wrap-around support services for the child and family during their time at WT3, this includes the transition from WT3 to school.

For some children, participation in WT3 may include part delivery of WT3 within a school setting, such as Launching Into Learning. The ECEC team members involved in WT3 will liaise with the LiL teacher in their area to explore this further.

WT3 services will build on the existing relationships between Launching into Learning, families and their communities. WT3 will bring fresh opportunities for the ECEC and school sectors to build relationships, strengthen their communities and enhance the holistic support for the child.

The WT3 initiative recognises the importance of a well-paced, intentional and sensitive transition for both children and families, regardless of the setting they are transitioning to.

WT3 will primarily be delivered by ECEC services. As part of the pilot, consideration will be given to how to best enable access for eligible three year olds.

The requirements to offer WT3 include:

  1. ECEC services regulated by the NQF must meet minimum quality ratings of ‘Meeting’ in (NQS) Quality Areas 1, 5 and 6.
  2. For services licensed under the Child Care Act 2001, the pilot will be open to services which that are eligible for Child Care Subsidy and are required to prepare Quality Improvement Plans (QIP) by the federal government. A set of WT3 quality measures will be developed for these services in the pilot in conjunction with the licensed services involved. The quality measures will be aligned to NQS Quality Areas 1, 5 and 6.

During the pilot, WT3 programs will be designed and delivered by the service’s early childhood teachers and/or Educational Leader based on the Early Years Learning Framework for Australia and in accordance with the Tasmanian Child and Youth Wellbeing Framework.

Each service participating in the pilot is funded to provide wrap-around support services for the child and family. This includes referring parents/carers to service providers based on the individual circumstances of their family.

ECECs will undertake PEDS training with parents and carers and identify family goals and determining the relevant referral pathway. PEDS will help to identify the appropriate support based on the categories raised and what developmental needs require additional help.

The wrap-around supports available for families will be based on the circumstances of families and the context of their community.

Additionally, WT3 is employing an Engagement Worker in four of the pilot locations to collaborate with the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) staff and families to build supportive networks in the interest of the child.   

The Engagement Workers will participate in the LEGs in each location.

Within each service, the early learning program will be designed and delivered by an early childhood teachers (ECT) or Educational Leader tailored to the circumstances, and wellbeing outcomes, of three years olds. In addition, for the pilot, funding has been factored in for wraparound support services. This provides relief for up to three staff members as required to undertake various responsibilities as part of the WT3 pilot. The team performing these duties may consist of up to 3 staff members and must include an ECT or Educational Leader as appropriate.

The WT3 initiative includes relief to enable staff collaborating on WT3 to participate in face-to-face training and coaching. All pilot service partners will participate in readiness training that includes a focus on the Family Partnership Model, the WT3 model and co-design methodologies.

As part of the co-design process services have identified areas for ongoing professional learning that will be prioritised by the WT3 project team throughout the pilot.

Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) services are approved as providers and part of national requirements, must ensure a Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) is in place for each service.

The aim of a QIP is to help providers self-assess their performance in delivering quality education and care, and to plan future improvements. The QIP also helps regulatory authorities with assessing the quality of the service.

ECEC services are also provided with fortnightly updates in the Service Partner eNewsletter, the monthly WT3 eNewsletter, interactive tools through the pilot platform like Q&As and chat features. They are involved in structured Learning Circles which provide an opportunity for critical reflection with peers, as well as training from specialists and coaches.

They can also access information through the monthly webinar, website content and directly through emailing WT3 staff.

Children participating in WT3 will be integrated with their peers into an Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) service’s existing early learning program.

The WT3 model is an integrated one with all three years olds who access a WT3 place being de-identified and completely integrated into the centres program. They will participate In all the opportunities and learning experiences all children have access to.

WT3 has proactively identified ways children can be integrated. For example in Devonport staff worked with the community to put in place a new service which includes five places funded by WT3 integrated into a new offering with five places for children within the local community. This is a positive indication of ways in which new services can grow giving three year olds access to quality early learning where there was previously no service available. This illustrates the ways the initiative can be innovative and collaborative.

The WT3 project team welcomes input from early childhood educators and early years teachers in the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) and school sectors to help shape the initiative during the 2019 pilot and beyond.

Early childhood educators and early years teachers in the five pilot locations are invited to be part of the LEGs, to be established early in 2019. Interested educators and support staff may contact Louise Looby – WT3 Project Officer at WT3@education.tas.gov.au to find out more and register their interest.

Services will continue to be assessed and rated as required under the National Quality Framework (NQF). The assessment and rating process includes an assessment of all programs delivered by the service, which will include those delivered as part of the WT3 initiative. Services participating in WT3 will be required to comply with the Education and Care Services National Law and Education and Care Services National Regulations. Child Care services licensed under the Child Care Act 2001 will continue to participate in existing licensing processes.

Tasmanian Child and Youth Wellbeing Framework:
https://www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/250987/Tasmanian_Child_and_Youth_Wellbeing_Framework_-_Web.pdf

ACECQA Qualifications check:
https://www.acecqa.gov.au/qualifications/check

PEDS – The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne
https://www.rch.org.au/ccch/research-projects/peds/

The WT3 TasCOSS report undertaken at the commencement of the pilot, involved 100 consultations in the five areas the pilot is being trialled. This comprehensive report provided intimate details on the needs and goals of families in each of the communities, and captured community knowledge.

 

WT3 has developed strong networks with school communities, ECEC professionals and families in the five pilot locations. Local Enabling Groups have been established with key stakeholders and these include principals, families and early years teams from local schools who provide insights, support and advice to progress WT3.

 

WT3 also captures community knowledge by utilising the expertise of the Early Learning Initiatives Steering Committee (ELISC).

Aboriginal children are eligible for WT3 funded places in quality early learning programs.

 

Aboriginal Education Officers (AEOs) are members of the WT3 Local Enabling Groups (LEGs) in each of the five pilot locations. AEOs advise the LEGs on how appropriate Tasmanian Aboriginal resources and activities can be integrated into ECEC programs.

The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre at Risdon were briefed on the pilot and a cultural consultant is on the Kingborough LEG. A Tasmanian Aboriginal Child Care Association representative participates in the LEG in Launceston.

 

The WT3 Project Team is committed to greater involvement of the Aboriginal Sharers of Knowledge and welcomes suggestions for how we can make WT3 a welcoming and culturally safe environment: WT3@education.tas.gov.au

WT3 funds places for children to participate in quality early learning programs. Some ECEC services offer outdoor bush kinder and similar programs as part of their delivery of quality early learning opportunities for children, including those who are participating in the WT3 pilot.

 

WT3’s goal is to remove barriers to participation in early learning. This is one of a whole suite of opportunities children and families may choose to access during a child’s early years. Participating in WT3 along with other activities like Launching into Learning, CFC activities, library programs and playgroups all support a child’s learning and development.

The WT3 pilot will be evaluated by independent program evaluation consultants from the company Clear Horizon. In addition to this a longitudinal study will be undertaken into the initiative in 2020.