Thirdslide

Children's Services Policy

Children’s Services Document No: CPL315.1
Approval Date:  14 August 2012
Approved By: Council
Review Date: July 2013
Responsible Officer:
General Manager Community Services
Version No 02
Authorising Officer:   Chief Executive Officer


1. Purpose

This policy articulates Council’s approach to the enhancement of community well being through the provision of Children’s Services. This policy also fulfils Council’s responsibility in relation to compliance with Competitive Neutrality and Competition and Consumer Act 2010 requirements in relation to the provision of long day care.


2. Scope

This policy applies to all Council Officers involved in the planning, management and delivery of children’s services.


3. References

  • Municipal Early Years Plan

  • Equal Opportunity Act 2010

  • Human Rights Charter

  • UN Convention of the Rights of the Child

  • Building Code of Australia 2010

  • Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010

  • Children’s Services Regulations (Victorian) 2009

  • Education and Care Services National Regulations and Standards October 2011

  • Local Government Act 1989 – Victorian State Legislation

  • Local Government Regulations 1990 – Victorian State Regulations

  • Competitive Neutrality Policy Victoria 2000

  • Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005

  • Competition and Consumer Act 2010.

  • Commonwealth Government strategy – “Stronger Families and Community”

  • Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority

  • Community Childcare Association – “Community ownership quality rating system”

  • Children, Youth and Families Act 2005

  • Funding and Service Agreements


4. Definitions

  • Early Years Services – Services and activties provided for children aged 0-8 years and their families and carers. 

  • Integrated Children’s Centre – A facility designed to enable a number of service organisations to deliver services in an efficient and coordinated manner.
    Enhanced Early Learning Centre – A kindergarten program provided in conjunction with a range of ancillary services excluding the provision of long day care. 

  • Fully distributed costs – A cost methodology, which ensures that the direct, indirect and competitively neutral costs of producing goods and services are factored into the cost base less any disadvantage of local government ownership of the business.


5. Council Policy

The City of Greater Geelong aims to provide all children living in the municipality with the best possible start in life.

The Council promotes active participation of all children in community activities, and supports equitable access to opportunities, resources, and services that foster positive health, wellbeing, early childhood development and education.

The Council recognises the importance of its role as facilitator and planner of early childhood services for children and families and the provider of high quality and accessible early childhood services which are responsive to community needs.

Council supports the provision of a mixed economy of children’s services including those directly managed by Council alongside those provided by other levels of government, community, and commercially based organisations. Diversity of service provision provides families with optimal choice and options that can better respond to the individual needs and preferences of children and families, along with other potential benefits that can be derived from local market competition.


Part 1: Guiding Principles:

Council’s principles for the development of Early Childhood Services and associated facilities are:


Provision of a Range of Early Childhood Services

  • A comprehensive range of services will be provided for children and families by Council and/or in association with other appropriate providers. The range of services will respond to the diverse needs of children, families and communities. Services may include: long day care, outside school hours care, vacation care, occasional care, family day care, inclusion support services, maternal and child health services, immunisation, kindergartens, playgroups, toy libraries, playgrounds, parent education, information and referral services, along with other community amenities.

  • The particular needs of children and families with additional needs, including families from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds, indigenous families, low income earners, single parents and children and families with disabilities are to be specifically recognised and addressed in the provision of local services.

  • Council will continually seek to improve early childhood and family services through relevant funding opportunities and via direct Council budget allocations in accordance with identified priorities.

  • The various services provided by Council are designed to complement and strengthen the important role of parents, families, carers, and communities as the principal focus of children’s well-being and development.

  • Council will facilitate the development of effective networks and linkages between local early childhood and family support services to improve the coordination and integration of services, build collaborative partnerships, and strengthen the positive outcomes for children, families and communities.


Quality of Services:

  • Council supports the provision of high quality children's services operated by suitably skilled and qualified staff responsible for providing a nurturing and stimulating environment for children. The social, emotional, physical and cognitive development of individual children will be supported. 

  • In order to ensure provision of quality services, Council acknowledges the need for appropriate funding and resources, along with the development and maintenance of consistent and responsible standards, defined and enforced through regulation and independent assessment. 

  •  Council services will be characterised by a strong commitment to continuous quality improvement and as leaders in best practice standards.


Service Efficiency:

  • Investment in support for children and families represents an important contribution to the social and economic wellbeing of the community.

  • The cost of services will be continuously measured and reported in accordance with normal Council practices to ensure value for money and quality outcomes are achieved for ratepayers and funding bodies.

  • Council acknowledges that early years services need to be affordable and flexible and will continue to advocate for improved government funding and subsidies as the diverse needs of families change over time.

  • Council will support families and children by providing access to facilities and grants for community groups which deliver activities that directly benefit children, families, and local communities.


Service Development and Management:

  • Council will continuously monitor community need through consultation with children, parents and the general community, to ensure the adequate provision of early years and associated family services;

  • Services will be planned and developed in consultation with all stakeholders, and in consideration of demonstrated community need, demographic trends, government policy and available funding.

  • Collaborative partnerships and networks that encourage service coordination and integration will be developed and supported.

  • Council encourages the development of community based early childhood and associated family services, and will provide support to these organisations in accordance with budget allocations and identified priorities.


Facility Development and Management

  • Council will continuously monitor community needs through consultation with children, parents and the general community, to ensure adequate provision of early years and associated family services.

  • Services will be planned and developed in consultation with all stakeholders and in consideration of demonstrated community need, demographic trends, government policy and available funding.

  • Collaborative partnerships and networks that encourage service coordination and integration will be developed and supported.

  • Council encourages the development of community based early childhood and associated family services and will provide support to these organisations in accordance with budget allocations and identified priorities.

  • Council will provide and maintain a comprehensive range of early childhood services and facilities to meet the needs of children and families. 

  • To ensure child and family support services and facilities are provided where necessary, appropriate planning mechanisms will be implemented to effectively integrate social, economic and physical planning and design priorities. 

  • Where possible, and if needed, children and family services will be located in integrated facilities that are able to address broad community needs. Particular attention will be given to the progressive movement toward the development of fully integrated children and family centres that include delivery of maternal and child health services, kindergarten, occasional care, long day care and a range of other early childhood services. 

  • Where posible, children’s service facilities will be located in close proximity to other complementary community services to encourage connectivity between services such as schools, neighbourhood centres, libraries, and other community services.

Part 2: Specific Council Policy in Relation to Centre Based Long Day Care

Council recognises that the provision and management of Centre Based Long Day Care plays an important role in the fostering and promoting development of children’s education, health, and well being while also supporting their families.


Access and Equity:

Through Council’s provision of long day care services, Council contributes to the promotion of health, well being, children’s education and development and support of families by:

  • Recognising the economic, social and geographic disadvantage of some children and families.

  • Customising long day care services to meet the diverse needs of families, in particular recognition given to vulnerable families, children with disabilities and those children from homes where English is a second language.


Costing and Pricing:

  • Council’s approach to the pricing of long day care services will take into account the requirements of the Competitive Neutrality Policy Victoria - January 2002 guidelines, in relation to the subsidisation of the full cost of operating long day care services and will reference Council’s commitment to access and equity.

The following principles will apply:

  • Council will endeavour to provide and maintain a market share of long day care provision across the municipality at 20 per cent of the total service provision.

  • Fully distributed costs methodology will be used to calculate the full cost of the service and will be based on 100 per cent utilisation of operational places.

  • Council acknowledges that due to fluctuations in utilisation there will be a resource allocation (subsidy) required for the service to be maintained.

  • Council recognises that services supporting high numbers of vulnerable families will require additional resource allocation to ensure that the service provided adequately supports the complex needs of children and their families.

  • Services will be routinely evaluated against quality and utlisation indicators to ensure approporiate and viable services are maintained.

  • Council will continually work to ensure efficient and cost effective service provision is retained in the public interest.

  • Council will review the pricing associated with the provision of Centre Based Long Day Care during the annual budget process.

  • Council recognises that it has a leadership role within the community and early childhood industry to promote the welfare and education of children and to provide high quality services that are accessible and equitable to all eligible residents, including people encountering economic and social disadvantage.


6. Quality Records

Quality Records shall be retained for at least the period shown below.

Record Retention/Disposal Responsibility Retention Period Location
       
       
       


7. Attachments

Nil



Page last updated: Monday, 17 October 2016
Print