Family day care services

This information is current as of 1 October 2017.

This page outlines the requirements for an approved family day care service operating under the Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010 (National Law) and the Education and Care Services National Regulations 2011 (National Regulations).

Educational program and practice

Education and care services must ensure that a program is delivered to all children being educated and cared for by the service (section 168). The program must be:

  • based on an approved learning framework
  • delivered in a manner that accords with an approved learning framework
  • based on the developmental needs, interests and experiences of each child
  • designed to take into account the individual differences of each child.

The approved learning frameworks in Victoria are:

An educational program should contribute to the following outcomes for each child (regulation 73): 

  • the child will have a strong sense of identity 
  • the child will be connected with and contribute to their world 
  • the child will have a strong sense of wellbeing 
  • the child will be a confident and involved learner 
  • the child will be an effective communicator.

Relationships with children

Reasonable steps must be taken to ensure children have opportunities to interact and develop respectful and positive relationships with each other and with staff members of, and volunteers at, the service. This includes having regard to the size and the composition of the groups in which children are being educated and cared for by the service (regulation 156).

Inappropriate behaviour

No child being educated and cared for by the service may be subjected to any form of corporal punishment or any discipline that is unreasonable in the circumstances (section 166).

Interactions with children

Reasonable steps must be taken to ensure that the education and care service provides education and care to children in a way that:

  • encourages the children to express themselves and their opinions
  • allows the children to undertake experiences that develop self-reliance and self-esteem
  • maintains at all times the dignity and rights of each child
  • gives each child positive guidance and encouragement toward acceptable behaviour
  • has regard to the family and cultural values, age, and physical and intellectual development and abilities of each child being educated and cared for by the service (regulation 155).

For further information about behaviour guidance, see: Understanding children’s behaviour.

Documentation

For a child preschool age or under, assessments of each child’s developmental needs, interests, experiences and participation in the educational program and their progress against the outcomes of the program must be documented (regulation 74(1)(a)). For a child over preschool age, evaluations of the child's wellbeing, development and learning must be documented (regulation 74(1)(b)). In preparing the documentation the approved provider must:

  • consider the period of time the child is being educated and care for by the service 
  • consider how the documentation will be used at the service
  • ensure the documentation is readily understood by educators and parents (regulation 74(2)).

Information about the contents and operation of the educational program must be displayed at each family day care residence or approved venue (regulation 75(a)) and a copy of the educational program must be available for inspection on request (regulation 75(b)).

Children’s health and safety

To ensure the health and safety of children:

  • every reasonable precaution must be taken to protect children from harm and from any hazard likely to cause injury (section 167)
  • children must be adequately supervised (section 165)
  • children must not be subject to any form of corporal punishment or discipline that is unreasonable in the circumstances (section 166)
  • children must be provided with an environment free from the use of tobacco, illicit drugs and alcohol (regulation 82)
  • educators must not be affected by alcohol or drugs (including prescription medication) so as to impair their capacity to supervise or provide education and care to children (regulation 83)
  • adequate health and hygiene practices must be implemented (regulation 77(a))
  • a risk assessment is carried out before an authorisation is sought for an excursion (regulations 100 to 102) 
  • the service has an emergency and evacuation policy and procedure in place (regulations 168 and 97)
  • there must be ready access to an operating telephone or other similar means of communication for immediate communication to and from parents and emergency services (regulation 98).

Child protection

The nominated supervisor, staff members and educators who work with children must be advised of the existence and application of the current child protection law and any obligations they may have under that law (regulation 84).

Approved providers should ensure that nominated supervisors and persons in day-to-day charge have successfully completed child protection training. The training recommended to be completed is: 

Protecting Children – Mandatory Reporting and Other Obligations for the Early Childhood Sector. This training can be completed through: Mandatory Reporting eLearning Module.

The Protect website includes information and resources to support staff employed in Victorian early childhood services to take action if they suspect, or are witness to any form of child abuse.

Medical conditions policy

A service must have a medical conditions policy that meets the requirements of regulation 90 of the National Regulations. A number of further requirements must be met when a child who has a specific health care need, allergy or relevant medical condition is enrolled.

These include requirements for parents to provide a medical management plan for the child, and requirements for services to develop a risk-minimisation plan in consultation with the parents of a child to ensure that the risks relating to the child’s specific health care need, allergy or relevant medical condition are assessed and minimised (regulation 90(1)(c)(iii)).

A copy of the medical conditions policy must be provided to a child’s parent if the approved provider is aware that the child has a specific health care need, allergy or other relevant medical condition (regulation 91). For further information, see: Children with medical conditions attending education and care services.

Incidents, injuries and trauma and illness

Policies and procedures must be in place in relation to incident, injury, trauma and illness (regulation 168(2)(b)). These policies and procedures must include procedures to be followed in the event that a child is injured, becomes ill or suffers a trauma (regulation 85).

The parent of a child must to be notified as soon as practicable, but no later than 24 hours after the occurrence, if the child is involved in any incident, trauma or illness while the child is being educated and cared for (regulation 86).

Emergency and evacuation policy and procedures

Each service must have an emergency and evacuation policy and procedures (regulation 168(2)(e)) and ensure that they are based on a risk assessment that is conducted to identify potential emergencies that are relevant to the service.

Where appropriate the policy and procedures to effectively manage bushfire emergencies should be developed in consultation with relevant authorities. For further information, see: Managing bushfire risks in family day care

The emergency and evacuation floor plan and instructions must be displayed in a prominent position near each exit of the family day care residence and approved family day care venue.

The emergency and evacuation procedures must be documented and rehearsed at least every 3 months by each family day care educator and the children being educated and cared for by the family day care educator on that day (regulation 97).

The emergency and evacuation policy and procedures should confirm how emergencies will be managed to reduce the associated risks and maintain children’s safety.

Copies of the current emergency and evacuation policy and procedures must be available for inspection at the education and care service premise (includes at each family day care residence and venue) at all times that the service is educating and caring for children (regulation 171(2)).

Staff members of the service must have ready access to an operating telephone or other similar means of communication (regulation 98).

Physical environment

In the part of a family day care residence where education and care is being provided the furniture and equipment must be safe, clean and in good repair (regulation 103).

Each child being educated and cared for by the service must have access to sufficient furniture, materials and developmentally appropriate equipment that is suitable for the education and care of that child (regulation 105).

Indoor requirements

These include:

  • An approved family day care venue must have at least 3.25 square metres of unencumbered indoor space for each child (regulation 107) and provide ventilation and natural light. A temperature that ensures the safety and wellbeing of children must be maintained (regulation 110).
  • Adequate, developmentally and age appropriate toilet, washing and drying facilities, located and designed to enable safe and convenient use by children (regulation 109).
  • Laundry facilities or access to laundry facilities or other arrangements for dealing with soiled clothing, nappies and linen (regulation 106).
  • Any glazed area of a residence approved on or after 1 June 2014 that is accessible to children 0.5 metres or less above floor level must be glazed with safety glass (if the Building Code of Australia requires this) or in any other case is treated with a product that prevents glass from shattering if broken or guarded by barriers that prevent a child from striking or falling against the glass (regulation 117).
  • For family day care residences approved before 1 June 2014, the above requirements apply where the glazed area is situated 0.75 metres or less above floor level. Family day care venues may be subject to different requirements, depending on the nature of the building.

Outdoor requirements

These include:

  • An approved family day care venue must have at least 7 square metres of unencumbered outdoor space for each child being educated and cared for by a service (regulation 108).
  • The outdoor space at an approved family day care residence or venue must be enclosed by a fence or barrier that is of a height and design that children preschool age or under cannot go through, over or under (regulation 104).
  • An existing family day care residence or venue operating immediately before 1 January 2012 does not need to meet the requirements for fencing until the venue or residence is renovated. For the purpose of a rating assessment a family day care service is taken to comply with that regulation until 31 December 2015 (regulation 249).

Assessment of family day care residences and venues

The approved provider of a family day care service must conduct an assessment (including a risk assessment) of each approved family day care residence and venue before education and care is provided to children at the residence or venue and at least annually to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of children (regulation 116).

Approval of family day care venues

From 1 October 2017, a family day care service may operate at a venue only in exceptional circumstances and if approved by the regulatory authority. Family day care approved providers with a service operating from a venue before 1 October 2017, have until 1 April 2018 to submit a complete application to the regulatory authority seeking approval of the existing venue. The service must still undertake an assessment of the venue as required by regulation 116 and submit this with any application for approval of a venue. 

This requirement for the approval of a family day care venue does not apply to any family day care venues approved under the Children’s Services Act 1996.

For further information about making an application, see Applying for service approvals – family day care 

Staffing arrangements

At all times that a family day care educator is educating and caring for a child as part of the service, an approved provider, a person with management or control of the service, a nominated supervisor or a person in day-to-day charge of the service must be available to provide support to the educator. This includes being available to be contacted by telephone.

Family day care co-ordinator to educator ratios

Family day care educators must have adequate support to maintain a high standard of quality education and care. As a result, from 1 October 2017, a mandatory minimum co-ordinator to educator ratio will apply to all new family day care services.

Services approved from 1 October 2017

The ratios for family day care services approved from 1 October 2017 are:

  • for the first 12 months of operation:  - 1 full-time equivalent co-ordinator for every 15 family day care educators
  • after the first 12 months of operation  1 full-time equivalent co-ordinator for every 25 family day care educators

Services approved before 1 October 2017

Existing family day care services that do not have an existing family day care co-ordinator to educator ratio have a further 12 months before the 1:25 ratio applies from 1 October 2018 condition applies.

From 1 October 2018, the regulatory authority may impose the higher ratio of 1:15 at any time after the first 12 months of operation.

What if a service already has a ratio of co-ordinators to educators as a condition on the service approval?

If the regulatory authority imposed a family day care co-ordinator to educator ratio condition before 1 October 2017, this ratio will continue to apply.

Number of children who can be educated and cared for

A family day care educator must not educate and care for more than 7 children at a family day care residence or approved family day care venue at any one time (regulation 124). No more than 4 children can be preschool age or under (including the educators own children, if they are under 13 years of age and there is no other adult present and caring for these children). Children visiting a residence or venue are excluded from the maximum number of children.

In the exceptional circumstances prescribed in regulation 124(6) , the approved provider may give written approval for  an educator to educate and care for more than 7 children, or more than 4 children who are preschool age or under, at any one time.

Diploma level qualifications (for family day care co-ordinators)

From 1 October 2017, family day care co-ordinator to educator ratios will apply to new family day care services and to existing approved services that do not currently have a prescribed ratio on their service approval.

A family day care co-ordinator counted in the co-ordinator to family day care educator ratios must have an approved diploma level education and care qualification (regulation 128).

Lists of current and former approved diploma level qualifications are published on the Australia Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) website.

Certificate III level qualifications (for family day care educators)

All family day care educators must have, or be actively working towards at least an approved certificate III level education and care qualification (regulation 127).

Transitional and savings provision – certificate III level qualification

A family day care educator that meets any of the following provisions is not required to hold, or be actively working towards, a certificate III level qualification:

A person is taken to hold an approved certificate III level education and care qualification if, immediately before 1 January 2012, the person

  • was recognised under the former education and care services law of any participating jurisdiction as a certificate III level educator and employed at a declared or approved service; or 
  • held a qualification that is published under regulation 137(2)(a) in the list of former qualifications approved as certificate III level education and care qualifications (regulation 244(a) and (b)).

Educator not required to have a Certificate III level qualification

The requirement to have, or be actively working towards, a certificate III level qualification does not apply to family day care educators who, by 31 December 2011, completed a professional development course approved by the Secretary under the Children’s Services Regulations 2009; and 

  • were employed full time and continuously as a family day carer as part of a family day care service for a period of at least 5 years immediately preceding 25 May 2009; or
  • were employed at least part-time and continuously as a family day carer as part of a family day care service for a period of at least 10 years immediately preceding 25 May 2009 (regulation 366).

Approved qualifications

A list of qualifications has been approved for family day care co-ordinators, diploma level educators and certificate level educators.

If the co-ordinator’s or educator’s qualification is not on the approved or former approved qualifications lists an application can be made to ACECQA to determine whether a qualification (including a foreign qualification) is equivalent to an approved qualification. An application for an assessment of equivalence must include information prescribed in the National Regulations (regulation 139 and 140).

More information regarding applications for assessments of equivalence of qualifications or an application to have a qualification approved under the National Law is available on the ACECQA website at: Qualifications

Working with children check

The approved provider must read or ensure the nominated supervisor or a person in day-to-day charge of the service has read a person’s working with children check before the person is engaged or registered as a family day care educator or engaged or employed as a staff member of the service  (regulation 358).

This requirement does not apply for a family day care educator who has a Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT) registration that is checked by the approved provider, nominated supervisor or person in day-to-day charge of the service (regulation 358(4)).

Criminal history record check

The approved provider must read and consider, or ensure that the nominated supervisor or person in day-to-day charge has read and considered each family day care educator’s criminal history record check before they are engaged or registered as a family day care educator (regulation 359).The criminal history check must be no more than six months old.

Staff records

The identification number and expiry date of a current working with children check or VIT registration must be recorded on the following person’s  staff record (regulation 145 and 154):

  • nominated supervisor
  • family day care educator assistant
  • all other staff members at the family day care service including family day care coordinators

Register of family day care educators, co-ordinators and assistants

An accurate register that includes all of the information prescribed in regulation 153 must be kept at the principal office of a family day care service (section 269). Information must be held for three years after the date a person ceases to be employed or engaged by, or registered with the service.

The Department can request that the approved provider submit any information on the register and any changes to that information to the Department. This must be provided to the Department within 24 hours of the request (section 269(3)). 

From 1 October 2017, the register of family day care educators must also include information about each family day care educator assistant engaged by or registered with the service, and each family day care co-ordinator employed or engaged by the service. This includes: for each family day care educator, co-ordinator and assistant, and persons aged 18 years and over living in a family day care residence:

  • the identifying number and expiry date of a current working with children check or registration with the Victorian Institute of Teaching; and
  • for each family day care co-ordinator and family day care educator assistant, the date it was sighted by the approved provider or nominated supervisor  
  • it is also recommended that the date it was sighted by the approved provider or nominated supervisor is also recorded for each family day care educator
  • evidence that each educator is receiving adequate monitoring and support from a family day care co-ordinator, such as evidence of contacts, phone calls and visits
  • the date the co-ordinator or family day care educator assistant was employed or engaged by, or registered with the service and, if applicable, the date they ceased to be employed or engaged by, or registered with the service
  • if the co-ordinator will be providing education and care to children, evidence that they have completed current approved first aid, anaphylaxis and emergency asthma management training

Further information about criminal history requirements is available. See: Criminal history requirements: family day care services

Family day care educator assistant

A family day care educator assistant may be engaged by or registered with a family day care service to assist family day care educators in providing education and care to children.

The approved provider must approve a person as a family day care assistant before they can assist a family day care educator.  The family day care educator must:

  • seek written consent from a parent of each child to allow the family day care educator assistant to educate and care for the child in the circumstances prescribed in regulation 144; and
  • provide the written consents to the approved provider.

The approved provider must:

  • have received the written consent the educator obtained from a parent of each child to allow the family day care educator assistant to educate and care for the child in the circumstances prescribed in regulation 144; 
  • must take reasonable steps to ensure the family day care educator assistant is a fit and proper person to be in the company of children by considering the person’s current working with children check or registration with the Victorian Institute of Teaching (regulation 163). 
  • ensure that the family day care educator assistant has completed current approved first aid, anaphylaxis management and emergency asthma management training. 

The assistant can only stand in the place of an educator: 

  • to transport children between the educator’s residence or venue, to a school, another education and care service or children’s service, or a child’s home
  • in emergency situations, including when the educator requires urgent medical care or treatment, and
  • to enable the educator to attend an appointment (other than a regular appointment) of less than four hours in unforeseen or exceptional circumstances. The approved provider must have approved the absence and notice of that absence must have been given to a parent of each child being educated and cared for at the time.

Assistants may also assist the educator to educate and care for the children as part of the family day care service.

The approved provider must approve a person as a family day care assistant before they can assist a family day care educator.  

Relief family day care educators

An approved provider may engage or register a family day care educator to provide education and care to children in another educator's residence or at an approved venue, provided this educator meets the definition, qualifications, training and criminal history requirements of a family day care educator. For example, during another educator's annual leave or study leave.

A family day care educator can be replaced by another family day care educator in their absence as long as the family day care educator meets all the requirements of a family day care educator and their details are recorded in the services’ register of educators (regulation 119).

Educational leader

A suitably qualified and experienced educator, co-ordinator or individual must be designated in writing as the educational leader to lead the development and implementation of educational programs (regulation 118). The staff record must include the name of the designated educational leader (regulation 148).

Record of staff engaged or employed by family day care service

A record of staff must be maintained for family day care educator assistants, the nominated supervisor, the educational leader, volunteers and students and must include the names and hours educators are working directly with children (regulations 154).

Collaborative partnerships with families and communities

Parents must be permitted to enter the family day care residence and venue at any time their child is being educated and cared for by the service, as long as there is no risk to the health and safety of children or staff at the service, no conflict with the duty of the provider, supervisor or educator, and no court order prohibiting contact with the child (regulation 157).

Other regulations also relate to collaboration with families including requirements to give information about educational programs to parents, for parents to provide enrolment information, for information to be provided or displayed to parents and for administration areas to have adequate space for consulting with parents.

Leadership and service management

Limit on number of educators in a family day care service

From 1 October 2017, all family day care services are required to have a limit on the maximum number of educators that can be engaged by or registered with a family day care service.  The limit will be set by placing a condition on the service approval.

This condition will be applied to all existing services between 1 October 2017 and 1 April 2018.

Service approval required in each jurisdiction

From 1 October 2017, an approved provider must hold a service approval in each state of territory where they are operating a family day care service. There must also be a principal office in the state or territory in which each service approval is granted.

The approved provider may apply for a waiver from this requirement where services are located in adjacent localities across a state or territory such as Albury/Wodonga.

New minimum requirements for a family day care educator

From 1 October 2017, the approved provider must consider if a person is suitable to educate and care for children as a family day care educator before engaging or registering that person with the service.

The approved provider must:

  • take reasonable steps to ensure that the person has adequate knowledge and understanding of the provision of education and care to children; 
  • take into account the person’s history of compliance with the National Law and other relevant laws
  • take into account any decision under the National Law to refuse, suspend, refuse to renew, or cancel a licence, approval, registration, certification or other authorisation granted to the person under the National Law and other relevant laws.

The approved provider must also take reasonable steps to ensure that each educator maintains adequate knowledge and understanding of the provision of education and care to children.

Quality improvement plan

A quality improvement plan must be developed by each education and care service (regulation 238) that: describes a self-assessment of the quality of the practices of the service against the National Quality Standard and the regulations that identifies areas for improvement, and contains a statement of the philosophy of the service (regulation 55).

The quality improvement plan needs to be reviewed at least annually and when directed by the Department (regulation 56). The quality improvement plan must be kept available at the principal office of a family day care service and be available for inspection by the Department or prospective families of the service (regulation 31).

Residents at family day care residence

The approved provider must ensure that people aged 18 years or over residing at a family day care residence and the family day care educator assistants are fit and proper persons to be in the company of children.

This includes ensuring that they have at least one of the following: 

  • a current working with children check
  • current registration with the Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT) (regulation 163).

The details of the working with children check or VIT registration (identifying number, expiry date and the date that the check or registration was sighted by the approved provider) must be recorded in the register of family day care educators (regulation 153 (o)).

Requirements for notice of new persons at residence

It is a family day care educator’s responsibility to notify the approved provider of any new person aged 18 and over residing at a family day care residence. 

The approved provider must take reasonable steps to ensure that the person is fit and proper to be in the company of children. The person must have a current working with children check or registration with the Victorian Institute of Teaching that has been sighted by the approved provider in order to live in a family day care residence.

Record of visitors

A record of all visitors to a family day care residence or approved venue must be kept while children are being educated and cared for by the educators at the residence or venue as part of family day care service.

This record must include the visitor’s signature, arrival and departure times (regulation 165).

Children being educated and cared for must not be left alone with a visitor to the residence or venue (regulation 166). It is also recommended that when the approved provider, person with management or control or family day care coordinator visits a family day care residence or venue that they record their visit.

Notification of incidents and complaints

The approved provider of a family day care service must notify the Department within 24 hours of:

  • any serious incident at the service; or 
  • any complaint alleging that a serious incident has occurred or is occurring while a child is being educated and cared for by the service or the National Law has been contravened.  

FFor further information, see: Incidents and complaints

The information includes:

  • the requirement to notify of a reasonable belief that physical abuse or sexual abuse of a child or children has occurred or is occurring while being educated and cared for by the service
  • circumstances that pose a risk to the safety, health and wellbeing of a child or children, and
  • a change to the definition of an emergency  to ‘an incident, situation or event where there is an imminent or severe risk to the health, safety and wellbeing of any person present at the service.’

Notifications that must be made by a family day care educator

From 1 October 2017, a family day care educator must notify the approved provider of the following:

  • any serious incident; 
  • any complaint alleging a serious incident has occurred or is occurring at the service; 
  • any complaint alleging the National Law and National Regulations have been breached; 
  • any renovations or changes to the family day care residence or venue that could create a serious risk to the health, safety and wellbeing of children;
  • any new person aged 18 years and over residing at a family care residence; and 
  • any circumstance that may affect whether a person residing at the residence continues to be fit and proper to be in the company of children.

Other notifications to the Department

The Department must be notified within the prescribed time of any changes in relation to the approved providers, nominated supervisors, certified supervisors and premises.

Policies and procedures

Regulation 168 of the National Regulations lists the policies and procedures that the approved provider must ensure the service has in place.

From 1 October 2017, services must have a ‘Sleep and rest for children and infants’ policy and procedures that includes the matters set out in regulation 81 (Sleep and rest) of the National Regulations.

ACECQA has developed information to assist services in developing a sleep and rest policy including safe sleep and rest practices, and safe environments and equipment. This is available on the ACECQA website.

Policies and procedures must be in place in relation to the following:

  • health and safety, including nutrition, food and beverages, dietary requirements, sun protection, water safety, the administration of first aid and sleep and rest for children and infants
  • incident, injury, trauma and illness procedures
  • dealing with infectious diseases
  • dealing with medical conditions
  • emergency and evacuation
  • delivery collection of children from an education and care service premises excursions
  • providing a child safe environment
  • staffing, including a code of conduct for staff members,  and the participation of volunteers and students on placement 
  • interactions with children
  • enrolment and orientation
  • governance and management of the service including confidentiality of records
  • the acceptance and refusal of authorisations
  • payment of fees and provision of a statement of fees charged by the service
  • dealing with complaints (regulation 168).

Family day care service must also have additional prescribed policies and procedures for:

  • assessments of family day care residences and approved family day care venues
  • engagement or registration of family day care educators
  • register of family day care educators, co-ordinators and assistants
  • monitoring, support and supervision of family day care educators, including how the service will manage educators at remote locations 
  • assessment of family day care educators, family day care educator assistants and persons residing at the family day care residence
  • visitors to family day care residences and approved family day care venues while education and care is being provided to children as part of a family day care service
  • the provision of information, assistance and training to family day care educators
  • the engagement or registration of family day care educator assistants (regulation 169).

Reasonable steps must be taken to ensure that the nominated supervisor, staff members and family day care educators follow the policies and procedures (regulation 170). Current copies or the policies and procedures must be readily accessible to family day care educators engaged by or registered with the service (regulation 171).

The approved provider must notify the parents of the children enrolled at the service at least 14 days before any changes in policies and procedures that may have a significant impact on the service’s provision of education and care of enrolled children or the family’s ability to utilise the service (regulation 172).

Public liability insurance

The approved provider must hold a current insurance policy providing adequate cover for the service against public liability and ensure that each family day care educator engaged by or registered with the service holds insurance against public liability (regulations 29 and 30). The approved provider must have and keep evidence of the current public liability insurance at the principal office of the service and make this evidence available for inspection by the Department (regulation 180(1)).

A family day care educator must have and keep evidence of the educator's current public liability insurance at the family day care residence or venue and make this evidence available for inspection by the Department (regulation 180(2)).

Documents and storage of records

The regulations prescribe a number of requirements for documents and records to be kept for each family day care service and the requirements for the storage of documents (regulations 177 and 183)

On ceasing to be engaged by or registered with the family day care service the educator must return all prescribed enrolment and other documentation to the family day care service (regulations 178 and 179).