13 November 2014 | BLOG: Early Childhood
The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) established a review of the National Quality Framework (NQF) in 2014 to assess if the agenda to improve the quality of child care services has been achieved and to address any problems that have emerged since its implementation.
On November 7 COAG released the Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) for proposed options for changes to the NQF and the summary of the public and sector consultations. You can find these and process for feedback to the RIS.
The RIS outlines proposed options with cost benefits analysis for change which are grouped into seven headline areas:
- Refining the National Quality Standard and assessment and rating process
- Removing supervisor certificate requirements
- Expanding the scope of services covered by the NQF
- Extending some liability to educators
- Changes to prescribed fees
- National educator to child ratio for OSHC services
- Improved oversight of and support within FDC services
It is the third issue, expanding the NQF scope, which is of significant relevance to SNAICC member services currently excluded from the NQF. It is proposed to bring the Budget Based Funded (BBF) services which includes a significant number of Aboriginal controlled services into scope. The inclusion of these services under the NQF could bring considerable benefit to the most disadvantaged children with little extra cost, provided there is adequate support for the transition.
Three options are canvassed for feedback on this question: a no change option; a transition process for inclusion in the NQS; or the introduction of a compliance assessment within the NQS which is similar to the current state and territory quality measures for BBF but would have the effect of perpetuating a two tier system. SNAICC has advocated inclusion of BBF services under the NQS but also recommended a staged process including resources and supports for compliance and review of the NQS to consider adaptations necessary for its appropriate application to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services..
While SNAICC broadly supports the inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Services under the NQF, we also strongly emphasise that this not be conflated with mainstreaming of service delivery or funding models. The unique qualities of culturally strong, holistic, and community-focussed service delivery such as that provided by the Multifunctional Aboriginal Children’s Services (MACS) must be supported and grown if we are to Close the Gap in outcomes for our children and families. Many of our services are already strongly meeting national standards and providing quality and culturally appropriate care for children and support for families.
Following the consultation process, a further regulatory report will be prepared in January, and any legislative amendments identified with implementation of outcomes likely to occur in 2016. SNAICC will develop a submission and welcomes input from our members and sector to inform our submission.