This article was contributed by the NCAC.
Next month's article by the NCAC will focus on Spot Checks.
About Accreditation and the role of NCAC
The National Childcare Accreditation Council (NCAC) is funded by the Australian Government to administer Child Care Quality Assurance (CCQA) for family day care, long day care and outside school hours care services.
NCAC's aim is to ensure that children enrolled in child care are provided with stimulating and positive experiences which nurture all aspects of their development.
The CCQA process encourages child care professionals, families and children (where appropriate) to work together to improve a service's child care practices which meet recommended quality standards. This is achieved through a five step process:
Step 1: Registration
Services are required to register with NCAC before they begin operating as a child care service or when there is a change of ownership or management.
Registration is renewed annually.
Step 2: Self-study and Continuing Improvement
Self-study is a continuous process of self-evaluation undertaken in collaboration with all stakeholders. A service's first Self-study Report is submitted 18 months from the initial Registration, and then every two and half years. If a service is Not Accredited their next Self-study Report is due within six months of the Accreditation Decision.
Step 3: Validation
Upon receipt of a service's Self-study Report, NCAC schedules a Validator to visit the service. Validators validate the service's practices against the quality standards detailed in the Quality Practices Guide.
Step 4: Moderation
Moderators analyse information from the Self-study Report and Validation Report to create a service's composite Quality Profile. From this, a Continuing Improvement Guide is developed which identifies areas for further improvement during the service's next self-study period.
Step 5: Accreditation Decision
NCAC uses the analysis from Step 4: Moderation to determine whether a service has met the standard required for Accreditation. Services are Accredited for two and half years, in which time they are required to implement their Continuing Improvement Plan to maintain or improve upon their practices at a Satisfactory or higher standard.
While there are voluntary accreditation systems for child care services in other countries, the Australian CCQA systems is the first in the world to be funded and supported by a federal government and linked to funding. To be eligible to offer Child Care Benefit funding to families, services are required to register with NCAC and demonstrate a commitment to complying with CCQA and working towards a satisfactory standard of quality child care.
NCAC has developed a range of resources which support child care professionals working through the Accreditation process. These include the Putting Children First magazine, Family and Service Factsheets, CCQA Support Documents and Policy Templates. The NCAC website (www.ncac.gov.au) contains publications and resources that can be downloaded and printed, which may assist in communicating the CCQA standards to stakeholders.
For further information about CCQA and the quality standards, contact a Child Care Adviser on 1300 136 554 or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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