Statement of expectations and response 2018

Minister for Early Childhood Education’s Statement of Expectations for the Department of Education and Training as Regulatory Authority for Early Childhood Education and Care Services.

 

I am pleased to provide you with this Statement of Expectations in your role as the designated Regulatory Authority under the Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010, the Victorian Children's Services Act 1996, and their respective associated regulations. I understand you have delegated the majority of your powers, duties and functions to the Quality Assessment and Regulation Division (QARD) of the Department of Education and Training (the Department). This SOE applies for the period 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019.

As Minister for Early Childhood Education, I am responsible for administering the Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010 and the Victorian Children's Services Act 1996 that apply to the operation of early childhood education and care and, in the case of the National Law, school aged care services. This Statement should be read within the context of the objectives, obligations and functions outlined in these Acts (as amended).

I expect the Regulatory Authority to undertake the full range of functions and powers provided in this legislation to promote the safety, health and well-being of children attending education and care and children's services. I acknowledge that the Regulatory Authority operates within the context of national applied laws and under the auspices of the Education Council; and that the Regulatory Authority holds explicit joint governance responsibilities for the implementation of the National Quality Framework in conjunction with the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA), other State and Territory regulatory authorities and the Commonwealth Department of Education and Training. This Statement applies to those functions and activities over which the Regulatory Authority has control or flexibility in meeting outcomes. In undertaking this role, I expect the Regulatory Authority to continue to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its regulatory activities.

I note the Commonwealth Government's decision in its 2018-19 Budget to discontinue the National Partnership on the National Quality Agenda for Early Childhood Education and Care, which will result in a $5.4 million reduction in Commonwealth funding to Victoria to support the critical work of regulating early years services to ensure their quality and the safety of children - this is a significant proportion of its budget. As a consequence I am issuing this statement for a period of one year and will continue to seek a resolution of this matter with the Commonwealth.

I recognise the significant work that the Regulatory Authority has undertaken since 2012 to implement and administer the National Quality Framework, and its continued efforts to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its operations such as the introduction of the service tracking and recording tool (STAR). The Regulatory Authority has also raised awareness of the new Child Safe Standards for all early childhood services, and begun the implementation of the No Jab, No Play laws.

I reaffirm the following areas where there are opportunities for the Regulatory Authority to improve its performance:

  • I expect the Regulatory Authority to continue to apply its best endeavours to assess and rate all eligible Victorian education and care services regulated under the National Law and report to me regularly on Victoria's performance against this expectation.
  • I expect the Regulatory Authority to continue to adopt a risk-based approach to:
    • target regulatory effort to the highest risk activities, including assessing strategic regulatory risks to manage emerging sectoral compliance risks; and
    • ensure that services are adequately monitored and that notifications and complaints are investigated in a timely way.
  • The Regulatory Authority should review its risk assessment frameworks on an ongoing basis to ensure that risks to the safety, health and wellbeing of children are minimised.
  • I expect that the Regulatory Authority will continue to work cooperatively with the Commonwealth Department of Education and Training, ACECQA, and other relevant agencies to administer the National Law and address compliance issues associated with the family day care sector.
  • I expect the Regulatory Authority to deepen its engagement with education and care providers and services and other stakeholders to inform the ongoing improvement of its regulatory activities.
  • I expect the Regulatory Authority to continue to explore ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of business systems and processes supporting its regulatory functions, including better use of technology, to reduce regulatory burden and ensure the delivery of high quality, consistent services within prescribed timeframes.
  • I expect the Department to publish an annual report on its activities as the Regulatory Authority for early childhood education and care services in Victoria as a way of ensuring public accountability and providing information about its regulatory work.
  • I expect the Regulatory Authority to further improve the transparency and accountability of its regulatory and decision-making processes. The Regulatory Authority will develop more effective measures for the efficiency and effectiveness of application processes, decision-making processes, investigations and other internal processes and outcomes (including, for example, measures of timeliness).
  • I expect the Regulatory Authority to support early childhood education and care providers to comply with their requirements and make available to them information to ensure an understanding of their legislated obligations.
  • I also expect the Regulatory Authority to continue to provide advice to services that receive a rating of 'Working Towards the National Quality Standard' to assist them to meet the Standard.
  • I expect the Regulatory Authority to enhance feedback systems to measure the effectiveness of its compliance related assistance and advice.
  • I expect the Regulatory Authority to promote greater cooperation, information sharing, regulatory coherence and efficiency with other regulators and key partners in order to improve compliance outcomes and identify opportunities for improved regulatory performance. This includes working closely with the Victorian Cladding Taskforce and the Victorian Building Authority to identify and manage risks associated with combustible cladding that may exist on buildings where early childhood services operate.

Child safety and wellbeing remains an important focus for the government as it is our plan to create a higher quality, more equitable and inclusive early childhood system as outlined in the Education State Early Childhood Reform Plan: Ready for kinder, Ready for school, Ready for life. Improving kindergartens, early childhood system infrastructure, and system foundations and practice will help achieve higher quality services. Priorities include implementing the Reportable Conduct Scheme and the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, and rolling out Child Link and the child information sharing scheme.

I expect the Regulatory Authority to continue to advise and support these policies and priorities as appropriate, and to play a role in achieving them through its regulatory function and by cooperating with other regulators and departments across jurisdictions and portfolios.

I expect the Regulatory Authority to continue to identify and report on the activities it will undertake to achieve my expectations and respond to this Statement publicly. In undertaking these activities, I expect the Regulatory Authority to consult with stakeholders and the broader community as appropriate.

Reporting on progress should continue to be undertaken in the context of annual financial reporting to avoid dual reporting streams. I also expect that these expectations continue to be incorporated into the Regulatory Authority's Business Plan.

This Statement should be published on the Department's website together with the Regulatory Authority response.

I look forward to seeing the Regulatory Authority continue to work towards achieving best practice in its critical role as the regulator of early childhood education and care and school aged care services in Victoria.

Yours sincerely

Jenny Mikakos MP
Minister for Families and Children
Minister for Early Childhood Education
Minister for Youth Affairs

28/06/2018

Response

Response to the Minister for Early Childhood Education’s Statement of Expectations for the Department of Education and Training as Regulatory Authority for Early Childhood Education and Care Services​. 

Thank you for your letter of 28 June 2018, providing your Statement of Expectations for the Department of Education and Training (DET).

The Statement and our response will be published on the Department's website. This response to the Statement has been prepared, and its activities will be implemented by the Department's Quality Assessment and Regulation Division (QARD) in the Early Childhood and School Education Group. QARD staff have been delegated to undertake most of the responsibilities of the Regulatory Authority for early childhood education and care under the Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010 (National Law) and associated regulations, and the Victorian Children's Services Act 1996 and associated regulations.

Detailed below are the activities that QARD will undertake to meet your expectations.

​Expectation​Activity

​Apply best endeavours to assess and rate all eligible Victorian education and care services regulated under the National Law, and report to you regularly on Victoria's performance against this expectation.

​Continue to meet the former National Quality Agenda performance benchmark of assessing and rating at least 15 per cent of services per year, and provide quarterly reports on progress against this expectation.

​Continue to adopt a risk-based approach to:

  • target regulatory effort to the highest risk activities, including assessing strategic regulatory risks to manage emerging sectoral compliance risks; and
  • ensure that services are adequately monitored and that notifications and complaints are investigated in a timely way.

​Ensure risk management plans for all medium/high-risk rated services are regularly reviewed.

Services are monitored according to a risk based framework

At least 3000 service visits are undertaken

​Review risk assessment frameworks on an ongoing basis to ensure that risks to the safety, health and wellbeing of children are minimised.

​Review current analytics and reporting of risk information to improve identification and responses to emerging risks.

​Continue to work cooperatively with the Commonwealth Department of Education and Training, ACECQA, and other relevant agencies to administer the National Law and address compliance issues associated with the family day care sector.

​Continue working with Commonwealth DET, Australian Children's Education and Care Authority (ACECQA) and other regulators by sharing relevant compliance information to effectively manage issues and risks associated with the regulation of the family day care sector.

Progress the targeted legislative review of the national law as it applies to family day care.

​Deepen engagement with education and care providers and services and other stakeholders to inform the ongoing improvement of regulatory activities.

​Facilitate stakeholder forums for key stakeholders, biannually

Engage in regional forums with early childhood providers, regional staff and other local providers

Hold consultations with the sector about amendments to the Children's Services Act 1996

Increase the publication of the QARD newsletter from 8 to 11 issues per year

​Explore ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of business systems and processes supporting regulatory functions, including better use of technology, to reduce regulatory burden and ensure the delivery of high quality, consistent services within prescribed timeframes.

​Work with ACECQA to improve the National Quality Agenda IT System (NQA ITS) and increase the utilisation of information management technologies to:

  • Simplify and standardise processes
  • Increase use of online forms to make it easier for services to provide required data through the online portal.

Adopt new technologies such as mobile devices to complete the assessment and rating process within shorter timeframes by streamlining processes and information capture.

​Publish an annual report on its activities as the Regulatory Authority for early childhood education and care services in Victoria as a way of ensuring public accountability and providing information about its regulatory work.

​Publish a QARD Annual Report

​Further improve the transparency and accountability of its regulatory and decision-making processes.

​Continue to publish statutory sanctions on the Departmental website

Publish further guidance about the QARD investigatory processes.

​Develop more effective measures for the efficiency and effectiveness of application processes, decision-making processes, investigations and other internal processes and outcomes (including, for example, measures of timeliness).

​Review current reporting frameworks and assess internal benchmarks on timeliness for administering regulatory processes to improve monitoring and reporting on risk and performance.

​Support early childhood education and care providers to comply with their requirements and make available to them information to ensure an understanding of their legislated obligations.

​Work with the Online Communications Branch to:

  • Review QARD website information architecture and redesign content to align with best practice communications principles (clear, appropriate and accessible).

​Continue to provide advice to services that receive a rating of 'Working Towards the National Quality Standard (NQS)' to assist them to meet the standard.

​Follow up directly with all services rated as Working Towards the NQS to offer guidance and support to them, such as referrals to Gowrie Victoria.

​Enhance feedback systems to measure effectiveness of compliance-related assistance and advice.

​Develop feedback processes to measure quality of website guidance and information content for target audiences.

​Promote greater cooperation, information sharing, regulatory coherence and efficiency with other regulators and key partners in order to improve compliance outcomes and identify opportunities for improved regulatory performance.

​Work with the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority, the Victorian Institute of Teaching and the Commission for Children and Young People to protect children’s safety and improve compliance of jointly regulated entities.

​This includes working closely with the Victorian Cladding Taskforce and the Victorian Building Authority to identify and manage risks associated with combustible cladding that may exist on buildings where early childhood services operate.

​Work directly with the Victorian Cladding Taskforce and the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) to identify early childhood services with potential cladding issues. In conjunction with the VBA manage risks arising from audits or rectification works.

Children's safety and wellbeing remain paramount. We will continue to prioritise our regulatory activities towards assisting and supporting delivery of the Education State Early Childhood Reform Plan: Ready for kinder, Ready for school, Ready for life, and initiatives arising from the Reportable Conduct Scheme and recommendations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, and rolling out Child Link and the child information sharing scheme.

Your expectations will be incorporated into QARD's Business Plan and will be reported through existing reports such as the QARD Annual Report. QARD will continue to consult with stakeholders and the broader community as appropriate.

These activities demonstrate QARD's commitment to good regulatory practice, promoting efficient and effective administration and enforcement of the regulations to achieve regulatory outcomes, while minimising impacts on regulated parties.

I look forward to continuing to work with you as the Department strives towards achieving best practice regulation of early childhood education and care, and school aged care services in Victoria.

Yours sincerely

Katy Haire

Acting Secretary

16/07/2018