In the state of New South Wales, the Department of Community Service (DoCs) is responsible for regulating the categories children's services. This includes the responsibility of the licensing, compliance, enforcement & prosecution activities. The legislation that supports the Department of Community Services in their regulation of the children's services in NSW is the Children & Young Persons (Care & Protection) Act 1998 (the Act) and the Children's Services Regulation 2004 (The Regulation).
It is important that individuals obtain a copy of the Act and Regulation and seek both financial & legal advice before deciding if opening a centre/children's services is in their best interest.
Before the application on a children's services licence, the applicant must advertise their intention in a NSW or local daily, no earlier than two weeks prior to the application. The community has about three weeks to respond to the ad, after the lodgement of the application.
Children's Services fall under among these categories, namely,
- Centre based: which is provided at a fixed premises (which is not the home of the licensee).
- Mobile: where the service is "mobile" and visits specific premises or area at specific times.
- Family Day Care: a service that arranges for the care to be provided at the home of a carer other than the licensee of a Home Based service.
- Home Based service: where the services is provided at the home of the carer, by the carer, not being the home of any of the children receiving the care (other than a child related to the carer).
The most common children's services used by working parents would be the centre based children's services .
All Children's Services have minimum national standards to meet. More information can be found on the Australian Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs website. Child care centres register under the Quality Improvement and Accreditation System (QIAS), which is run by National Child Care Accreditation Council (NCAC).
The same licence application form (CSDA 01 Children's Service Licence Application) will apply in either of the three event:
- Opening a new children's services.
- Renewal of Licence.
- Change of ownership.
A different form (CSDA 03- Application to Vary a Licence) must be used in the event of any changes is required or want to be made to the current license in terms of maximum licensed place for the number of children allowed, hours of operation or name of service, etc.
The grant of a children's services centre license is valid for up to about three years. Services must lodge a licence renewal six months prior to its expiry date. The licence cannot be sold, or transferred in the case of the change of a licensee, a move to new physical premises, or changes to the existing licensed premises such as major renovations that substantially alter the physical environment (such as centre based, or home based licences).
Should a service provider intend to sell to another provider, the NSW DoCs recommends that a time-frame of 8-12 weeks in the application of a new licence, to ensure sufficient time for the assessment & approval for a new licence. In the case of the service operator that intends to cease the operations of the services, the licensee is required under the Regulations to provide written notice to DoCs of at least 21 days.
Different application forms with evidence are to be attached, depending on the type of children's services being applied for. Among the documentation required in the application of the CSDA includes:
Building Plans (including site plan) which is applicable ONLY to centre- based premises:
- includes a separate area for staff to consult with parents/administration/ room separate for staff away from the child areas.
- separate areas for children under 2 years of age.
- surfacing areas (soft fall) under playground equipment meet the requirements of AS/NZS 4422:1966
- Fire Safety Equipment is provided in accordance with AS1851.1.
Evidence of Business Registration. (for applicants who register under the Corporations Act 2001)
- Proof of Proprietorship.
Qualified Staff: (applicable to centre- based, family day care & mobile chldren's services):
- The nomination of maximum up to two Authorised Supervisor at one centre, who can be present at least 50% of the time. The Authorised Supervisor can be nominated to a maximum of working at two services at one time.
- At least one person trained in First Aid is present at all times.