Child care services in Western Australia are set to become safer for children and fairer for workers after the State Government today welcomed a comprehensive review of industry regulations.
Communities Minister Sue Ellery said the Government had accepted a range of recommendations from the Child Care Regulations Consultative Committee relating to long day care, family day care and outside school hours care.
“The Government has endorsed 28 major recommendations to improve the safety and wellbeing of children and the working conditions of staff, as well as to reduce regulatory overload for child care centre operators,” Ms Ellery said.
“Together, these recommendations represent a major reform agenda for child care services in this State.
“The changes that will result from this review will offer WA families greater assurance than ever before that child care services are safe and of a high quality.”
The Minister said the review involved an exceptionally high level of participation from parents, the child care sector, children, local governments, the child care union and peak bodies from across WA.
Consultation began in July 2007 and more than 1,100 submissions were received, including 350 from parents, 35 from children and more than 300 from service providers.
“Feedback from parents indicated that while the cost of care was important to them, the safety and quality of care rated as their highest concern,” Ms Ellery said.
“Accordingly, the committee’s approach was guided by the principle that the best interests of children were paramount.”
The recommendations are set to result in clearer, easy-to-use regulations and include:
· a minimum qualification requirement for child care workers;
· mandatory training for workers on child protection and child development issues;
· a reduction in administration paperwork for service providers;
· prohibiting the practice of withholding food or water from a child as a form of punishment;
· not using the practice of restraining a child as a regular method of behaviour management;
· compulsory rest breaks for staff; and
· more time each week for program development.
Implementation of the recommendations will be co-ordinated between the Department for Communities, relevant agencies and the child care sector.
The overhaul of WA child care regulations will fulfil an important recommendation of the Ford Review into the former Department for Community Development.
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