South Australian Regulatory Authority issues advice on OSHC for preschool children
The Education Standards Board (ESB), which serves as the South Australian Regulatory Authority for the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector, has outlined advice and considerations for those services who include preschool aged children in outside school hours care (OSHC) programs.
This advice and support may be valuable for ECEC services around Australia, particularly during the summer holiday period, when many children who begin school next year may be accessing OSHC programs.
“Suitable facilities, appropriate supervision and educator-to-child ratios are just the start,” the ESB said, adding that it is also important to use an educational program that is suitable for children of every age and to ensure the safety of all children attending the program, particularly at transition times.
For those OSHC services in South Australia who may be providing care for preschool aged children for the first time, the regulator issued a reminder that a notification of change to information about an approved service form (SA12) must be completed to reflect this.
Given the increased vulnerability of younger children, particularly in an environment where older children are in attendance, and as such, approved providers should consider the risks to preschool aged children not only in terms of experiences, but also in terms of mixed age grouping when the disparity in ages is high.
“We have heard of children as young as 36 months attending OSHC. There are more appropriate services for children of this age. If they are attending OSHC, even more thought needs to be given to the points below,” the regulator warned.
Do toilets provide older children with adequate privacy? Are there suitably sized toilets for younger children? How will toileting accidents be managed supportively and respectfully? Is the fencing adequate for younger children?
Are you using the relevant curriculum for preschool-age children: Belonging, being & becoming: The early years learning framework for Australia?
Does the service have access to appropriate resources and equipment for the additional age group of children (including tables and chairs of suitable height)?
Have you considered educator-to-child ratios for the age group of children you are providing education and care for? Do you have any educators who have a Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care?
Having educators with different qualifications (early childhood and school-age education) means all children’s needs can be appropriately supported and promoted.
SA services with further questions about offering an OSHC program which caters to preschool aged children are invited to contact ESB by phone, (08) 8226 0077 or email: [email protected]