NSW Government adjust OSHC licensing processes post internal review
The New South Wales Government has released the outcome of a review focussing on identifying opportunities to streamline the processes around Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) licence agreements.
NSW Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning Sarah Mitchell said the Department’s review identified areas of improvement were needed, including simplification of the licence categories and associated tender processes.
“We are committed to providing before and after-school care services for families who need it in NSW, and we want these services to be as high quality and affordable as possible,” Ms Mitchell said.
“Changes to the licensing approach are needed to ensure the Department is following best-practice administrative law and direct negotiations guidelines, and to ensure that students and families have access to the best-possible OSHC services.”
New rules to see provider categories adjusted with parent run services impacted most
The outcome of the review will see a change to how OSHC service providers are classified across the three primary categories (A, B and C,) which in turn impacts whether providers are required to participate in a tender when establishing a service, or when a licence is being renewed.
Under the old rules, OSHC services operated by the school’s P&C Association or parent-run services, both of which were classified in Category A, were exempted from the need to be put out to tender when opening a new service or renewing a license.
Under the new rules, parent run services will be given the option to remain in Category A but only if they are incorporated under their schools existing P&C Association or or if they elect not to pursue that option, the service will be reclassified as Category B and in turn see their protection from participating in tenders removed, potentially pitting them against other not for profit operators and also for profit operators in the process.
Affected parent run providers will have until at least December 2022 to finalise their transition processes.
NSW parent run OSHC community raises grave concerns at process change
The Network of Community Activities, the peak body for Outside ofSchool Hours (OOSH) care in NSW, has raised particular concerns that the decisions will leave family run providers at a material disadvantage when it comes to the tender process requirements the new categorisation will require.
“These services don’t have the deep pockets of large corporate providers to invest in professional tender writing processes in order to maximise returns for their shareholders,” CEO Pauline O’Kane said.
In addition the body raised concerns that the transition to a P&C is more complicated than the Department of Education have realised and that the financial burden on the managing families will be material.
Extending on this Ross Cunningham the president of a parent-run OOSH that separated from the Thornleigh West P&C Association said, “P&C’s have a very different focus within the school community of fundraising, helping with class activities and supporting communication between the school, teachers and parents – they are not generally set up to run what can be million dollar businesses with large staff employment.”
“Running an OOSH under a parent committee brings with it huge benefits of community connectedness, cost minimisation and the ability to draw on committed, capable and qualified executive members who may not be available to either a P&C or quite frankly the private sector.”
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