Family Day Care Australia (FDCA) has officially launched our Sector Viability Strategy through the release of the FDCA Sector Viability Brief, which, on October 2019, was sent to all state and territory Education Ministers, all Regulatory Authorities, the federal Minister for Education, the federal Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education and Development and the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA).
The Sector Viability Brief will underpin discussion to be held through face-to-face meetings with Ministers and Departmental executives, which will run from October to December 2019.
The purpose of the briefing paper is to support ongoing, collaborative dialogue with state, territory and Commonwealth governments around how FDCA, the family day care sector, policy decision makers and regulators can work together to further promote:
- increased quality of family day care service provision;
- growth in higher quality service provision; and
- the long term viability of the family day care sector.
The strategy also seeks to, where necessary, change any negative compliance-oriented perceptions of the sector held by policy makers by promoting the key benefits and strengths of family day care.
Thank you to all members that have contributed to FDCA's many extensive consultations over the past 2 years, which have all informed the development of the FDCA Sector Viability Brief. The brief represents the culmination of your views and issues and collates them into a number of concrete recommendations for policy or regulatory changes that will assist in achieving the strategic goals outlined above. The consultations that informed the brief included, but were not limited to, the following:
- The 2017 Member Survey;
- The Fee Charging Practices consultation;
- Multiple consultations on the Child Care Package pre and post implementation;
- The 2018 Election Commitments member survey;
- The 2019 Review of the National Quality Framework survey;
- Ongoing consultation through the FDCA National Engagement Program (NEP);
- Consultation to inform the "Attracting the Next Generation of Family Day Care Educators" research; and
- Consultation to inform the "Independent Review of the Family Day Care Assessment and Ratings Process" research
Key factors affecting viability
As members are well aware, the sector has been subject to significant regulatory, compliance and program reform over recent years, primarily as a result of unscrupulous operators entering the sector, which has resulted in considerable
- Sustained decreases in numbers;
- Increased regulatory/ compliance burden;
- Market restrictions;
- Barriers to entry; and
- Support for quality provision
The recommendations put forward in the brief are as follows:
Apply the same formula that is applied to the original long day care fee cap calculation (i.e. applying a 17.5% loading to the mean) and apply an additional loading of 20% for non–standard hours family day care.
Review the current National Quality Framework (NQF) provider and service approval process and Child Care Subsidy (CCS) provider approvals process for family day care services.
- Australian Government, States and Territories
Conduct a review of the implementation of the educator cap condition from the perspective of consistency and with consideration of potential impacts on legitimate business growth.
Amend unreasonably low educator cap benchmarks for newly approved family day care services to allow for a minimum of 30 educators to be registered with the approved service.
Support quality growth through regulatory incentives by allowing a 1:5 educator to child ratio for Diploma qualified educators.
Amend regulation 123A to allow for a “buffer” of 10 additional educators to be registered (for a 1:25 ratio service) and 5 additional educators registered (for a 1:15 ratio service) prior to the requirement to employ an additional FTE coordinator.
Develop guidance relating to regulation 123A that allows for coordinators to take short term leave without the service having to engage another FTE coordinator.
Standardise educator notice periods and sampling methodologies for the assessment and ratings process, allowing family day care services to nominate a shortlist of educators to be assessed based on length (e.g. at least 12 months) of service and ensure that educators chosen to be assessed are notified within the same timeframes as educators of long day care services, that is, at least 4 weeks ahead of the visit.
FDCA certainly realises that there are a significant number of other key issues that affect service viability; however, through the extensive consultation undertaken by FDCA, the above recommendations have emerged as clear policy or regulatory mechanisms that will directly result in improvements to viability to both individual services and to the sector as a whole.
FDCA will keep members informed of progress made through the Sector Viability Advocacy Strategy as it occurs and we will let members know if we need to mobilise the sector to bolster our advocacy efforts.
FDCA is confident that through this strategy and using our collective, informed, evidence-based positions will allow for constructive dialogue with policy decision makers and regulators. If we work closely together to support the sector to improve quality, reduce barriers to legitimate growth, and improve viability, the family day care sector will continue to greatly assist in supporting broader objectives of government to increase workforce participation, increase ECEC service delivery in regional areas and areas of high socio-economic disadvantage, and improve access to high quality, affordable and flexible ECEC options to meet the changing needs of more Australian families.
Family day care is the natural choice. We need the support of governments to remain the natural choice for years to come.
To view the FDCA Sector Viability Brief click here.