Sprout has revolutionised policy design and maintenance with clever time-saving software
Speak to any service leader or approved provider about the area which gives them the most administrative headache, and you’ll quickly learn a lot about compliance, and particularly about Regulation 168, which stipulates which policies a service must have, and what must be included.
Knowing not only what policies are required, but also when they are due for renewal or review is a burden for many leaders who would prefer to spend time mentoring staff, engaging with children and families, and ensuring their services remain competitive in an increasingly crowded early childhood education and care (ECEC) landscape.
Thankfully a number of innovative new tools and products have been introduced to the ECEC world to tackle common challenges such as these. In the policy space the newest upgrade to the Sprout’s childcare compliance software offering has been able to achieve just that.
Sprout was originally designed with one simple intention – to save time for educators and leaders and to free them up to do what they do best, rather than spending countless hours engaged with administrative tasks.
Using a fully integrated platform which is compatible with iOS and Android devices, Sprout allows services to manage hazards, checklists, incident, injury and illness reports, enrolment records, staff documentation, policies and more. Each time regulations are changed or updated, Sprout prompts users and supports them to remain compliant, all with minimal effort and input, saving hundreds of hours a month.
With the latest update, Sprout allows services to say goodbye to policy registers, spreadsheets and folders, storing them all digitally instead, and updating providers when policies require review. Families and teams are able to access policies through the relevant app, or through the web based platform.
“We know that administrative tasks can really weigh educators and leaders down,” Himal Randeniya, Sprout’s Founder said.
“From our research, one of the recurring nightmares of ECEC services is policies. They take hours and hours a month to keep up to date. Even worse, because our leaders are so time poor, they fall to the bottom of the to-do list and are often non-compliant.”
Often, he continued, services use template policy providers who push all of the work onto Nominated Supervisors and Approved Providers by providing impossible to use templates which can still be non-compliant once the service has added their specific context into the template.
“This far-too-common experience led us to rethink how services handled their Policies,” Himal added.
All mandatory policies are covered, with the option to add additional policies which are unique to any given service or provider. Services can choose to be reminded to review policies at a set interval, such as once per quarter, annually or every six months, or Sprout can prompt a service to review based on previous review dates.
Policies in one place, updates close to hand
There are three main ways that the latest Sprout update supports services to manage and maintain the policies required under the National Law.
Firstly, using Sprout, services can quickly and easily share a compliant register of policies with authorised officers, families, educators, emerging professionals, and anyone else who may require access. Through the platform staff can add and manage policies, set a review schedule for policies, and keep the policy register complete and up to date.
Once the policies have been inputted into the system Sprout notifies services before a policy requires review, allowing time to collect feedback and draft changes in line with the stipulation that an approved provider must ensure that families are notified at least 14 days ahead of any change to a policy or procedure that may impact on the service’s provision ot education and care, or the family’s ability to access the service.
The policy platform also makes it simple for approved providers with multiple sites to deploy policies and policy updates across all their services with one touch, instantly notifying all services of any relevant changes.
Never write a policy every again
For those services who want to free themselves completely from policy pain, Sprout has also introduced a premium service, Policies +, which allows services to engage with a team of expert policy writers, hand picked from the sector, who will work with each service to draft policies which are not only compliant, but which also reflect the unique nature of each space.
“If you operate multiple services,” Himal said, “we’ll work with you to manage your whole organisation’s policy framework to ensure consistency while still keeping that individual touch, and flexibility to meet local requirements.”