Mandatory sleep and rest policies
Among the raft of changes to the National Quality Framework which took effect from 1 October, one of the most significant was a change to Regulation 168 of the National Regulations, which now requires early childhood education and care services to have policies and procedures on sleep and rest for children and infants.

The change has come about as a result of the death of Indianna Rose Hicks who was five months old when she died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome while in care.

Sleep is a constant issue for many early childhood education and care providers and the complicated balancing act required to keep the children’s wellbeing aligned with parental expectation can feel impossible to achieve.

In fact, a recent University of Queensland study of 750 parents of preschool parents found that 79 per cent did not want their child to sleep while in their education and care service, citing disruption to the child’s night sleeping and wellbeing as the key reasons.

Despite this, the same University of Queensland researchers showed that in a study of 113 preschool rooms 83.5 per cent of early childhood education and care settings had a mandatory naptime period in the middle of the day irrespective of their individual needs and preferences and just 14.2 per cent of providers offered alternative activities for children throughout the naptime period.

To address conflicts like this, and ensure the safety and wellbeing of children in care, providers must now implement sleep and rest policies and procedures in line with current recommended evidence –based practices.

ACECQA's recommendations suggest that children who do not wish to sleep be provided with quiet activities to keep them occupied to ensure those who do wish to sleep aren’t disrupted. They also say that children should be permitted to sleep if they are showing clear signs of tiredness or request to do so.

Furthermore, in situations where a family has requests around sleep which are in conflict with current best practice and a service's policies and procedures educators are expected to put current Red Nose recommendations above the requests of the family. Nominated supervisors should refer parents to the Red Nose guidelines and service policies if parents make sleep requests which are contrary to child safety.

ACECQA has compiled a list of recommendations to inform services in the development of policies and procedures around sleep along with a range of resources on current best practice. View these resources here.

In response to the changes to the National Quality Framework Red Nose has updated its Child Care Kit, which includes policy development guidelines and resources on current best practice. This kit is available for purchase here.
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