This month we have a guest post by Anna Johnston, Practice Manager Early Childhood for UnitingCare Children’s Services (UCCS).
UCCS is the approved provider for 52 services in NSW and the ACT, including long day care, preschool, out of school hours care, occasional care and an integrated service.
Anna discusses the ways the management team worked with services to help them adapt to the new National Quality Standard.
The management team of UnitingCare Children’s Services (UCCS) has worked together to ensure our services have emerged confident and prepared for assessment and rating with the National Quality System (NQS).
UCCS is the approved provider for 52 services in NSW and the ACT, including long day care, preschool, out of school hours care, occasional care and an integrated service. Services are managed directly by Central Office or by local management committees linked to Uniting Church congregations.
UnitingCare Children’s Services was previously a stand-alone organisation that was linked to the Uniting Church in NSW/ACT. Following a re-structure in 2010 a new management team was assembled, under the leadership of Trish Brown and UCCS became a service group of UnitingCare Children and Young People and Families. At the beginning of 2011 we comprised a team led by the Director , Trish, with two Operations Managers, one training and resource officer, two Practice Managers, and administration and inclusion support officers.
The team faced many challenges but fortunately we are committed, experienced and enthusiastic people and we all agreed on an approach to support UCCS through this transition phase, both at organisational and regulatory level. A multi-pronged approach was needed to many tackle the many heads of the beast in 2011 :
- Director met with every management committee about the new requirements and the role of UCCS as the Approved Provider.
- Policy and Quality Practice Manager began reviewing all current policies, assessing compliance with the National Law and Regulation and where required developed new policies, procedures and forms with appropriate consultation.
- Management team delivered the National Quality Framework training package developed by Community Child Care Co-op in 22 convenient locations.
- Operations Managers visited services to identify their needs.
- The Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and My Time Our Place were in use at our services, the engagement and understandings varied greatly. Again our management team encouraged and supported services to incorporate the practices, principles and learning outcomes into their programs.
- Our fortnightly newsletter, UCCS express, contained regular updates regarding training and policy development.
- The Training Officer developed a training calendar, in addition to the NQF training package. In 2011 UCCS delivered our own training to our staff in Introduction to EYLF, EYLF documentation, Philosophy and Transition to School
- Mock assessment visits were conducted to 15 preschools to assist in developing the QIP.
- Combined directors and co-ordinators meetings were held three times a year, including practical sessions around the QIP or EYLF which leaders could take back and use in staff meetings to share understandings.
By December 2011 we were exhausted but confident our services were informed about the changes coming in 2012.
For 2012, our training calendar reflects the gaps identified in service Quality Improvement Plans – principally documentation and links in Quality Area 1, community connections, staff inductions, sustainability and health safety and supervision.
We continue to support individual services as they work through their QIP’s and we are currently piloting ways to support services as they begin to undergo the “real thing”, – assessment and rating.
We look back to where the management team and the services and educators and even the sector was at the beginning of 2011 and feel great pride that we have grown and become so informed and confident.