Over recent weeks FDCA has been fielding a number of questions from members have been doing their best to remain operational and compliant with their obligations under the National Law and National Regulations to support children and families across Australia during the COVID-19 emergency.
In order to support our members, the questions below have been put forward to all state and territory regulatory authorities in a bid to, where possible seek national consistency and guidance on these issues. FDCA also suggested a range of proposed short-term solutions for the questions that were put forward.
As we receive responses to the questions listed above we will be sure to provide the information to our members as quickly as possible.
1. What provision or waiver may be afforded to those educators that are required to update their mandatory first aid/asthma and anaphylaxis training during this time where it not possible to do so?
FDCA proposed short-term solution: Introduce a moratorium on qualification requirements for educators and staff that require a practicum component.
2. Is there provision for including the current circumstances to consider COVID-19 pandemic as meeting exceptional circumstances to approve additional children above the current allowable ratio under section 124 of the Education and Care Services National Regulations, if required?
FDCA proposed short-term solution: Make a decision that the COVID-19 pandemic meets exceptional circumstances under regulation 124. Allow services the discretion to apply a temporary extended ratio on a case by case basis to meet needs. Any such extension would be time limited and restricted to specific needs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
3. Will regulatory authorities allow for flexibility on the educator to coordinator ratios to account for staff self-isolations, sicknesses and precautionary leave?
FDCA proposed short-term solution: Staff that are self-isolating or are on short term sick leave still be included in the coordinator to educator ratio if they are able to continue to support educators remotely in line with the relevant proposals in FDCA’s Sector Viability Brief.
4. Do authorities have capacity to "fast-track" any pending approvals for extension of a service’s educator cap?
FDCA proposed short-term solution: Regulatory authorities prioritise reviewing and responding to any outstanding or new applications for an amendment to conditions of service approval where the service may be attempting to respond to additional demand.
5. In relation to coordinator educator visits, we should acknowledge that a shift towards utilising technology may be required.
FDCA proposed short-term solution: Regulatory authorities agree that services are compliant with their obligation to support and monitor educators if they are actively and effectively training, supporting and monitoring educators through remote means using technology.
6. Regarding coordinator / educator ratios, a reasonable and proportionate application of coordinator / educator ratio requirements in line with the proposals in FDCA’s Sector Viability Brief should be adopted.
FDCA proposed short-term solution: Please see FDCA's Sector Viability Brief.