Operating a childcare centre can be a rewarding business venture, but it also comes with burdensome legal responsibilities. The laws and regulations for childcare providers in NSW are outlined under the Children (Education and Care Services) Act 2010 (NSW) and the National Quality Framework (“Framework”) administered by the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (“ACECQA”). The overarching objective of this framework is to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of children attending education and care services whilst also improving their educational and developmental outcomes. This article will set out some of the licensing requirements contained in this legislation for childcare providers.
All childcare providers must be licensed and approved by the NSW Department of Education. This involves obtaining two essential licenses:
- A Provider Approval; and
- Service Approval.
A Provider Approval is required to provide family day care or centre-based services for children under 13 years of age. A Provider Approval will enable you to apply for one or more Service Approvals, and is a nationally recognised approval meaning that one approval will allow you to operate a childcare business in any State or Territory of Australia.
To be eligible for a Provider Approval, an applicant must:
- ensure each person with management or control of the business is a fit and proper person;
- provide details of the applicant’s history of compliance with the law;
- disclose any criminal history; and
- have the financial and medical capacity to meet the obligations of a childcare business owner.
A Provider Approval will usually take up to 60 days to acquire after lodging a lodging an application to the Department of Education.
The Service Approval is a centre-based approval which allows a person holding a Provider Approval to operate a specific child-care centre at one location. A Service Approval is required for each childcare premises or service operated by an approved provider.
To be eligible for a Service Approval, an applicant must provide:
- Compliant site plans for the premises under the National Law;
- Evidence of a legal right to occupy the proposed site for the centre, this is usually satisfied by providing a copy of any lease or agreement to lease from a landlord;
- Details of the nominated supervisor for the premises;
- A soil assessment confirming the proposed site does not contain contaminated land;
- Development consent for any proposed construction of the childcare centre, and a subsequent Occupation Certificate on the completion of those works; and
- Evidence that the applicant holds all insurances required under the National Law.
A Service Approval application is usually processed within 90 days after the regulatory authority receives all of the required information. Where the premises are new premises, a pre-approval visit will be arranged to inspect the completed works as part of the approval process.
In summary, running a childcare center comes with considerable legal responsibilities and regulatory hurdles, such as obtaining the necessary licenses and permits to start your business. Engaging a Childcare Lawyer to help you obtain your business licenses can streamline your application process and optimise your prospects of a successful application. If you are looking to establish a childcare centre, or require legal advice in relation to your existing business, please contact the Childcare Lawyers at Long Saad Woodbridge Lawyers.