ACECQA Ratio Refresher
ACECQA Ratio Refresher
As all early childhood providers are well aware, Section 165 of the Education and Care Services National Law requires that all children being cared for by an education and care service must be adequately supervised at all times while in the care of the service.
This means close adherence to minimum educator-to-child ratios and the organisation of educators to ensure the safety, wellbeing and welfare of children as well as support of their learning and development in an effectively supervised early learning environment.
Educator to child ratios are an important aspect of maintaining quality and the Education and Care Services National Regulations set the minimum qualification and educator to child ratio requirements for early childhood as well as outside school hours and vacation care services.
It's important to remember that minimum educator to child ratios in centre-based services (as specified in regulation 123) are calculated across the whole service, not by individual rooms. In practice this means:
- The minimum number of educators required is based on all children in attendance at the service regardless of grouping or room configuration.
- In a mixed age group, an educator who is caring for one age range of children can also be counted against another age range of children, as long as the ratio for each age range is maintained and adequate supervision is maintained at all times.
- The first step is to determine the number of educators needed for the youngest age range of children in the group. Once that ratio is met, an educator can also supervise children in another age range, provided the ratio for the youngest age range is maintained.
- Maintaining the ratio for each age range of children in the mixed age group does not mean the educator to child ratio for the youngest age range must be applied to all children in an older age range.
ACECQA says that by applying minimum educator to child ratios across the entire service, centre-based services can organise educators in a way to best meet the needs of all children.
Remember, to be included in the educator to child ratio, educators must be working directly with children (regulation 122), be physically present and directly engaged in providing education and care. In addition:
- The National Regulations require educator to child ratios to be maintained at all times a service is open, regardless of the activity children or educators are undertaking.
- Educators should be replaced when not working directly with children (e.g. when on a scheduled lunch break or undertaking administrative tasks), however in some cases ratio requirements may be modified when educators are taking short breaks and are not working directly with children.
- Service providers should check if specific regulations or guidance apply in their state or territory and contact their regulatory authority for advice about this if necessary.
Ratios are calculated using whole numbers of educators and when calculating the number of educators required across your service you must round up.
- For example, if you have seven children who are 18 months old, the required educator to child ratio is 1:4, therefore if you divide the number of children by four, your answer would be 1.75 educators required. Since you are unable to have .75 of an educator, you round up and two educators are required. Similarly, if you have five children aged 18 months, you are also required to have two educators, as you cannot have .25 of an educator
- Whole numbers are also used to decide how many qualified educators are required. The National Regulations set qualification requirements for educators at centre-based services. Regulation 126(1)(a) says that 'at least 50 per cent of the educators who are required to meet the relevant educator to child ratios for the service must have, or be actively working towards, at least an approved diploma level education and care qualification'.
- Rounding up also applies to calculating how many educators must be qualified. For example, if your service must have 13 educators, 50 per cent of these educators equates to 6.5 educators. As you cannot have .5 of an educator, you must round up to seven. Having seven qualified educators satisfies regulation 126(1)(a) as seven is 'at least 50 per cent', whereas rounding down and having six qualified educators would be less than 50 per cent and therefore not comply with the National Regulations.
This is a lot to keep track of in the busy atmosphere of an early childhood service and if you need more information the ACECQA website and the Guide to the NQF provide useful references on how to apply and maintain educator to child ratios.
This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Monday, 30 December 2019
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