Applying for service approval - family day care

This page is current as of 1 October 2017.

This fact sheet outlines the requirements for applying for a service approval to operate an approved family day care service under the Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010 (National Law) and the Education and Care Services National Regulations 2011 (National Regulations).

The Department​​

The Department of Education and Training (the Department) is the Regulatory Authority for Victoria and is responsible for:

  • granting service and provider approvals
  • carrying out the quality assessment and rating process
  • ensuring education and care services meet the requirements of the National Law and National Regulations.

The Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) is the national, independent statutory authority governing the National Quality Framework. ACECQA’s role includes:

  • ensuring the consistent application of the National Quality Framework
  • publishing guides and resources for education and care services
  • maintaining public registers and lists of approved qualifications.

What is family day care?

A family day care service is an education and care service that is delivered through the use of two or more educators to provide education and care for children in two or more residences.

Locations

A family day care service that is an approved family day care service may provide education and care to children from a family care residence, or, in exceptional circumstances, from an approved family day care venue.

Exceptional circumstances include:

  • In rural or remote areas, a venue may be approved where the location of the family day carer's residence is not convenient to the rural town that families can access for care; and
  • Where a family day care educator's residence is temporarily unavailable due to renovations or maintenance and a venue is available to provide care temporarily. This would be limited to a period of no longer than 12 months; and
  • Care provided for a small group of vulnerable children

An approved provider may apply to the Regulatory Authority for a service approval to operate a family day care service (section 43). From 1 October 2017, an approved provider must hold a service approval in each jurisdiction where the service's family day care educators are operating. The approved provider may only apply for a service approval if they will be:

  • the operator of the family day care service
  • responsible for the management of the staff members and nominated supervisors of the service (section 43(2)).

Responsibilities

The responsibilities of an approved provider of a family day care service include:

  • ensuring the safety, health and wellbeing of the children being educated and cared for by the service
  • meeting the educational and developmental needs of the children being educated and cared for by the service
  • ensuring sufficient persons are appointed as family day care co-ordinators
  • ensuring each family day care educator is monitored and supported by a family day care co-ordinator.

From the 1 October 2017, the approved provider of a family day care service will also be responsible for:

  • taking reasonable steps to ensure that each educator maintains adequate knowledge and understanding of the providing of education and care to children
  • considering a family day care educator's  history of compliance with the National Law and other relevant laws prior to engaging them as a family day care educator
  • addressing serious incidents and complaints relating to family day care educators.

The Regulatory Authority must not grant the service approval unless the provider approval application has been granted.

As such, it is recommended that an applicant waits for the outcome of their provider approval application before submitting an application for service approval.

Am I ready to apply for service approval?

If you cannot confidently answer all the questions below you should take further action before applying for service approval to operate an approved family day care service.

  • Do I hold provider approval?
  • What is my service philosophy?
  • Who will be my nominated supervisor?
  • How will I ensure my service will meet the requirements of the National Law and National Regulations?
  • Do I understand my obligtations under the Child Safe Standards?

Application process

Section 44 of the National Law prescribes the form an application for service approval must take and regulation 26 of the National Regulations prescribes the information that must be submitted with the application.

If an incomplete application is submitted, the Regulatory Authority will issue an ‘incomplete letter’ to the applicant. The applicant must respond to this letter and include all prescribed information by the due date stipulated in the letter. Applications will be assessed and a determination made to grant or refuse the application within 90 days of an application being deemed complete.

Prescribed information

The following information and documents must be submitted to the Regulatory Authority:

  • a complete Application for service approval – family day care (form SA02)
  • a copy of the policies and procedures (regulation 169(2)).

Additional information

Section 45 of the National Law allows the Regulatory Authority to request additional information for the purposes of assessing the application. The applicant will be notified of this information and provided with the instructions on how to submit these documents.

  • evidence the approved provider holds a current insurance policy providing adequate cover for the education and care service against public liability with a minimum cover of $10 000 000.
  • a copy of the proposed policies and procedures referred to in regulation 168
  • a copy of the family day care educator register template (regulation 153)
  • a copy of the template to be used for assessing a family day care residence or family day care venue, this must include the details of how a risk assessment will be conducted (regulation 116)
  • a copy of the template to be used for the staff record (regulation 154)
  • a policy and procedure that includes the following:
    • the process for assessing the location of each residence and/or venue to determine whether the residence or venue is located in an area considered as high risk of bushfire. The Department’s Bushfire At-Risk Register can be used to determine locations at high risk of bushfire and is available at: Bushfire At-Risk Register
    • procedures for monitoring bushfire risks for each family day care residence or venue
    • how the approved provider will maintain and regularly update a record of all family day care educators operating in residences or at venues identified as being at particular risk of bushfire
    • how the approved provider will ensure that education and care is not provided a family day care residence or venue located in an area considered as high risk of bushfire on a declared Code Red day in their Bureau of Meteorology district inform families of any family day care residence or venue where education and care cannot be provided due to a Code Red day in their Bureau of Meteorology district.

Applications for service approval should be completed online via the National Quality Agenda IT System

By completing these online you will be able to track the progress of your application.

Conditions on service approval

Conditions may be applied to services approvals when they are granted and at any other time by the Regulatory Authority. A service approval is granted subject to conditions that (section 51):

  • the education and care service is operated in a way that:
    • ensures the safety, health and wellbeing of the children being educated and cared for by the service
    • meets the educational and developmental needs of the children being educated and cared for by the service
  • sufficient persons are appointed as family day care co-ordinators to monitor and support the family day care educators engaged by or registered with the service
  • each family day care educator is adequately monitored and supported by a family day care co-ordinator
  • the service must commence ongoing operation of the service within 6 months after the approval is granted unless the Regulatory Authority agrees to an extension of time
  • the approved provider must hold the prescribed insurance in respect of the education and care service
  • an approved provider must comply with the conditions of a service approval held by the approved provider.

Section 51(5) of the National Law allows the Regulatory Authority to impose any other conditions on service approval. 

An approved provider may request the Regulatory Authority to review these conditions after the service has commenced operation and the approved provider can demonstrate compliance with the National Law and National Regulations. An application for amendment of service approval must be submitted and the approved provider notified of the decision by the Regulatory Authority before the service can employ or engage additional educators or make a change to the ratio of family day care coordinators.

Co-ordinator to educator ratios

From 1 October 2017 a minimum family day care co-ordinator (full-time equivalent) to educator ratio applies to all new services:

  • 1:15 for the first 12 months of operation
  • 1:25 after the first 12 months of operation.

The regulatory authority may impose a condition specifying the higher ratio of 1:15 at any time after the first 12 months of operation.

Limit on number of educators at a family day care service

From 1 October 2017 a condition is imposed on all new family day care service approvals that specifies the maximum number of educators that may be engaged by or registered with the service.

Notification of decision

The applicant will be notified of the decision on application within seven days of the decision being made. If the decision is made to grant the service approval, the approved provider will receive a service approval certificate via email. This certificate must be printed and displayed at the main entrance of the principal office of the family day care service (section 172).

Contacting the Regulatory Authority

When contacting the Regulatory Authority regarding a current application please have the application reference numbers ready. These numbers begin with either ‘APP’ or ‘SE’ and will assist in identifying the application.

When submitting further information via email or mail you must clearly identify your application by including the reference numbers. Information that is received without the correct application reference numbers cannot be matched to your file and will delay the application.

The Regulatory Authority can only discuss an application with the approved provider, primary contact person or the person(s) with management or control of the proposed service.

Resources

The Guide to the National Quality Framework provides information to assist approved providers.

See also: Applying for provider approval – family day care