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Enrolment and Orientation Policy-2021 Free Kindergarten 

 

Mandatory – Quality Area 6

 

Purpose

This policy outlines:

  • the criteria for enrolment at Apex Preschool Centre INC

  • the process to be followed when enrolling a child at Apex Preschool Centre INC

  • requirements in relation to No Jab No Play

  • the basis on which places within the programs will be allocated

  • procedures for the orientation of new families and children into Apex Preschool Centre INC

  • processes to ensure compliance with legislative and 2021 Free Kindergarten initiative in relation to the enrolment of children in early childhood education and care services.

 

Policy statement

.Values

  • Apex Preschool Centre INC is committed to:

  • equal access for all eligible children

  • meeting the needs of the local community

  • supporting families to meet the requirements for enrolment through the provision of information

  • maintaining confidentiality in relation to all information provided for enrolment

  • ensuring all families are welcomed and receive an effective orientation into the service.

  • supporting the Victorian Government’s 2021 Free Kindergarten initiative

 

Scope

  • This policy applies to the Approved Provider, Persons with Management and Control, Nominated Supervisor, early childhood teachers, Persons in Day to Day Charge, educators, staff and parents/guardians who wish to enrol or have already enrolled their child at Apex Preschool Centre INC.

Background and legislation

Background

  • The Education and Care Services National Regulations 2011 require approved services to have a policy and procedures in place in relation to enrolment and orientation (Regulation 168(2) (k)).

  • In response to the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Victorian Government is investing up to $169.6 million in early childhood education by providing free kindergarten to each enrolled child participating in a funded kindergarten program in 2021. This includes all children attending funded kindergarten programs in the year before school (four-year-old kindergarten) and services offering funded three-year-old kindergarten. The initiative also includes reduced fees for children enrolled in a funded kindergarten program in a long day care centre and for children attending unfunded three-year-old programs in sessional kindergarten services.

  • Where demand is higher than availability, Approved Provider’s must adhere to their eligibility and priority of access criteria (refer to Definitions and Attachment 1) in order to allocate the available places. The criteria used to determine the allocation of places takes account of the requirements set out in The Kindergarten Funding Guide (refer to Sources), the service’s philosophy, values and beliefs, and the provisions of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010. The Victorian Government requires funded organisations to ensure that their policies and procedures promote equal opportunity for all children. Services participating in central enrolment schemes are required to comply with the enrolment procedures of that scheme.

  • Services providing approved childcare (refer to Definitions) must abide by the Family Assistance Legislation Amendment (Jobs for families childcare package) Act 2017 (refer to Legislation and standards) and the Commonwealth Government’s Priority for allocating places in childcare services (refer to Sources).

  • Immunisations are an effective means of reducing the risk of vaccine preventable diseases. Early childhood education and care services which are regulated under the Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010 and Education and Care Services National Regulations 2011 have legislative responsibilities under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 to only offer a confirmed place in their programs to children with an Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) Immunisation History Statement (refer to Definitions). To meet the Child Care Subsidy immunisation requirements, children must be immunised according to the National Immunisation Program Schedule (refer to Sources) set out by the Australian Government Department of Health.

 

Legislation and standards

Relevant legislation and standards include but are not limited to:

  • A New Tax System (Family Assistance) (Administration) Act 1999

  • Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic)

  • Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic)

  • Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 (Vic)

  • Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)

  • Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010

  • Education and Care Services National Regulations 2011: Regulations 160, 161, 162, 168, 170, 171, 177, 181, 183

  • Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic)

  • Family Assistance Legislation Amendment (Jobs for Families Child Care Package) Act 2017

  • National Quality Standard, Quality Area 6: Collaborative Partnerships with Families and Communities

  • Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (Vic)

  • Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations 2019 (Vic)

  • Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth)

 

Definitions

  • The terms defined in this section relate specifically to this policy. For commonly used terms e.g. Approved Provider, Nominated Supervisor, Regulatory Authority etc. refer to the General Definitions section of this manual.

  • Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) Immunisation History Statement:  is the only form of acceptable evidence of immunisation. The AIR is a national register administered by Medicare that records all vaccinations given in Australia, including to children. Parents/carers must provide a copy of their most recent AIR Immunisation History Statement, which shows that the child is up to date with their immunisations upon enrolment and when a child has received or been due to receive a vaccination while attending the service. In the case of medical contraindication, an authorised medical practitioner completes and signs a Medical Exemption Form and supplies it to the AIR. In order to confirm enrolment, the Immunisation History Statement must show the child is up to date with the vaccines they can have, medical contraindication and indicate the due date for the next vaccinations the child is able to receive in the future if applicable.

  • Approved providers: providers that operate services that have Australian Government approval to receive Child Care Subsidy (refer to Definitions) on behalf of eligible parents. Approved providers include centre-based day care, including long day care and occasional care, family day care, outside school hours care and in-home care.

  • Authorised nominee: (In relation to this policy) is a person who has been given written authority by the parents/guardians of a child to collect that child from the education and care service. These details will be on the child’s enrolment form.

 

  • The National Law and National Regulations do not specify a minimum age limit for an authorised nominee. Each service will need to consider a risk assessment on an individual basis to determine if a person under the age of 18 is able to be an authorised nominee and, if so, what constitutes the minimum acceptable age at that service.

  • Child Care Subsidy (CCS): A Commonwealth Government means tested subsidy to assist eligible families with the cost of childcare. Payments are paid directly to approved childcare providers (refer to Definitions). Further information can be found at: https://www.education.gov.au/child-care-subsidy-0

  • Children with additional needs: Children whose development or physical condition requires specialist support or children who may need additional support due to language, cultural or economic circumstances (refer to Inclusion and Equity Policy).

  • Deferral: When a child does not attend in the 2021 when they are eligible for a funded kindergarten place or is officially withdrawn from a service prior to the April data collection. DET considers that this child has not accessed a year of funded kindergarten and is therefore not eligible for Victorian Government Free Kindergarten initiative in 2022.

  • Eligible child: as defined by the Kindergarten Funding Guide; a child that is at least four years old on April 30th in the year of enrolment; enrolled for at least 15 hours per week or 600 hours per year in a 4-year-old program; and not enrolled at a funded kindergarten program at another service. Or a child that is at least three years old on April 30th in the year of enrolment and is enrolled in a funded 3-year-old kindergarten program.  Any child that is enrolled in an early childhood and education and care service must have an AIR Immunisation History Statement that indicate that the child is fully vaccinated for their age or who qualify for the 16-weeks grace period.

  • Enrolment application fee: A payment to cover administrative costs associated with the processing of a child’s enrolment application for a place in a program at the service, which is not applicable in 2021. Any application fee made prior to the commencement of Term One will be reimbursed to families.

Enrolment application form:

 

  • A form to apply for a place at the service (see Attachment 3: Sample Enrolment Application Form)

 

Enrolment record:

  • The collection of documents which contains information on each child as required under the National Regulations (Regulations 160, 161, 162) including but not limited to parent details; emergency contacts; authorised nominee; details of any court orders; and health information including immunisation status.

 

  • Enrolment records are stored securely in the service due to their confidential nature.

  • Fees: A charge for program hours over and above the 15 funded hours per week (600 per year) and/or wrap around care.

  • Free Kindergarten 2021: Kindergarten programs for four-year-old and eligible three-year-old children in Victorian Government funded services will be free in 2021 as part of a $169.6 million investment in early childhood education in the 2020/21 Victorian State Budget. Free Kinder forms part of the economic recovery support for Victorians as we recover from the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The initiative is for 2021 only.

  • Grace period: allows specific categories of children of families experiencing vulnerability and disadvantage to enrol and attend the service without an AIR Immunisation History Statement (refer to Definitions) or when the statement is assessed as not being up to date. Services complete the grace period eligibility form with families during enrolment and keep a copy with the child’s enrolment record. The 16-week grace period starts on the first day of the child’s attendance at the service. During the grace period, the service is required to take reasonable steps to obtain the AIR Immunisation History Statement (refer to Definitions) and to encourage families to access immunisation services.

  • Priority of access: in instances where more eligible children apply for a place at a service than there are places available, the service must allocate spaces using the criteria outlined in The Kindergarten Funding Guide (see Attachment 1: Eligibility and priority of access criteria for a 3 and 4-year-old funder kindergarten program)comply with the Commonwealth Government’s policy for allocating places (see Source).

  •  

Sources and related policies

Procedures

The Approved Provider is responsible for:

  • determining the criteria for priority of access to programs at Apex Preschool, based on funding requirements and the service’s philosophy

  • developing procedures that ensure all eligible families are aware of, and are able to access, an early childhood program, and considering any barriers to access that may exist

  • complying with the Inclusion and Equity Policy

  • appointing a person to be responsible for the enrolment process and the day-to-day implementation of this policy

  • providing opportunities (in consultation with the Nominated Supervisor and educators) for interested families to attend the service during operational hours to observe the program and become familiar with the service prior to their child commencing in the program

  • ensuring that enrolment forms (refer to Definitions) comply with the requirements of Regulations 160, 161, 162

  • reviewing the enrolment form to determine its effectiveness in meeting the regulatory and management requirements of the service

  • ensuring that enrolment records (refer to Definitions) are stored in a safe and secure place, and kept for three years after the last date on which the child was educated and cared for by the service (Regulation 183)

  • ensuring that the orientation program and plans meet the individual needs of children and families, and comply with DET funding criteria

  • reviewing the orientation processes for new families and children to ensure the objectives of this policy are met

  • ensuring that parents/guardians of a child attending the service can enter the service premises at any time that the child is being educated and cared for, except where this may pose a risk to the safety of children or staff, or conflict with any duty of the Approved Provider, Nominated Supervisor or educators under the Law (Regulation 157).

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