What needs to be done: moving towards a better ratio.
1. The Regulation needs to be amended
Part 4, Division 1, Clause 53, (1) (a) of the Children’s Services Regulation 2004 needs to be amended to read as follows:
The licensee of a centre based or mobile children’s service must ensure that the ratio of primary contact staff to children being provided with the service is: 1:4 in respect of all children who are under the age of two years.
This requirement should apply to all new services from 1 January 2008. To enable currently licensed services to smoothly transfer to the new ratio, the amendment should be made subject to the following transitional provisions:
Part 5, Clause 58, (2) (a) of the Children’s
Services Regulation 2004 must be amended to read as follows. The maximum
number of children that may be so specified is 90, of whom:
This increases the number of children under two years a service may have by two children (from 30to 32). 32 being divisible by 4, this maximises the number of children a service could care for with staffing that meets the new 1:4 ratio.
2. Small services need to be supported
The Department of Community Services must fund a 12 month assistance project to support children’s services licensed for fewer than 40 places that do not currently meet the 1:4 ratio from January 2008.
This project could be auspiced by an existing children’s services peak organisation and should provide time-limited business support to services via:
The business support will enable individual services to explore options such as:
3. Some services will need their licenses amended
The Department of Community Services will need to amend some existing service’s licenses, and more widely implement a licensing approach to allow for variations in the maximum number of children in each age group, while ensuring services don’t exceed their total licensed places, based on the physical capacity of the service.
This licensing approach will assist services in implementing a 1:4 staff–child ratio, and is currently applied successfully in a number of licences.