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Outside school hours care during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Understand changes to outside school hours care programs during changes to school attendance during coronavirus (COVID-19).

About outside school hours care (OSHC)

Outside school hours care (OSHC) programs are an early childhood education and care (ECEC) service under the National Quality Framework and Commonwealth Family Assistance legislation.

An OSHC service provides education and care typically for primary school-age children (generally ages 5 to 12 years) outside school hours and during school holidays (Vacation Care). OSHC services also often provide education and care on pupil-free days.

We are the regulatory authority for OSHC. The Commonwealth Government subsidises the cost of OSHC through Child Care Subsidy and Additional Child Care Subsidy payments direct to providers.

Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) during Term 4

Children can attend OSHC in Term 4 in line with public health advice.

School councils and OSHC providers are encouraged to continue working together to provide care for children eligible to attend OSHC.

For funding queries, school councils that are OSHC providers are advised to contact the Commonwealth Government through the Child Care Subsidy Helpdesk by email ccshelpdesk@dese.gov.au or call 1300 667 276.

Current funding arrangements for OSHC

The Australian Government has implemented measures throughout 2020 to help the early childhood education and care sector manage the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

From late October, all eligible OSHC services in Victoria will receive a 40 per cent Recovery Payment until the end of the 2020 school year. This provides additional support for Outside School Hours Care (OHSC) services.

Vacation care only providers (and OSHC services providing vacation care) will also be eligible for this payment for any weeks of care provided from the end of the school year (21 December 2020) to 31 January 2021.

For more details, including additional eligibility requirements visit: COVID-19 information for the early childhood education and care sector.

Requests from OSHC providers to waive licence fees

School Council responses to a request to waive fees by an OSHC provider

Many OSHC providers have been financially impacted by operating and lockdown restrictions due to coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Commonwealth Government’s new funding settings. They may have difficulty paying money to school councils under the terms of existing agreements and therefore may request a fee waiver or fee reduction. In light of the current conditions, School Councils are strongly encouraged to consider licence fee waivers or fee reductions for Term 1, 2021.

To support commercial leasing principles contained in the Victorian COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) (Commercial Leases and Licences) Regulations 2020, licence fees should be negotiated in good faith with providers to ensure the long-term viability and consistency of the OSHC service.

Underlying principles for dealing with requests from OSHC providers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions

  • School councils should seek to be flexible and responsive to changing business, environmental and community needs.
  • School councils should agree to reasonable requests from OSHC providers in order to ensure where possible that they have financially viable partners when normal business resumes.

Recommended process for school councils

Where an OSHC provider requests a fee waiver or fee reduction under an existing agreement, a school council should:

  1. treat the request by the OSHC provider as a request to vary the existing agreement
  2. review the agreement to identify how the agreement is to be varied - commonly agreements state no variation is valid unless it is made by mutual agreement and in writing
  3. consider the reasons given by the OSHC provider for the requested fee waiver or fee reduction and confirm that the request is only temporary while the State of Emergency impacts business as usual
  4. if the reasons given by the OSHC provider are fair and reasonable in the circumstances and are only temporary, the School Council should consider agreeing to the requested fee waiver or fee reduction
  5. record the terms of the agreed variation in writing, ensuring the variation to the agreement is only for a specified time
  6. the variation can be completed by exchange of letters between the School Council and the OSHC provider. Please refer to Attachment 1 for a Variation of Agreement letter template for school councils.

Staff-to-child ratios

If an OSHC service is having issues meeting the educator-to-child ratios and qualification requirements

In the current circumstances, services should take all reasonable steps to meet the ratios and training and qualification requirements. Services must ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of all children being educated and cared for by the service. This includes:

  • providing adequate supervision
  • taking adequate precautions to protect all children from harm or hazards likely to cause injury
  • conducting a risk assessment to inform decision making
  • designing and delivering an educational program that meets the needs of each child and addresses current circumstances.

Where services are unable to meet the requirements of the educator to child ratios (not the qualification requirements) they must notify the regulatory authority. Notifications for National Quality Framework services should be made via the National Quality Agenda IT System.

The educator to child ratios calculators are available on: Educator to child ratios.

Refer to advice on maintaining a safe learning environment for staff and students on physical distancing and other transmission reduction measures - coronavirus (COVID-19)

OSHC service operating as a single staff model

The National Quality Framework permits single staff models. However, it's important that the service has processes in place to seek assistance if required, particularly should a child or educator become ill.

Having school staff available, or someone reasonably close to the service who could be contacted for support, would meet this requirement. The service of course needs to meet the ratios for school aged children which are 1 educator to 15 children.

OSHC Establishment Grants

The Victorian Government will invest $81.6 million over four years to increase the availability of before and after school hours care.

The funding will help establish new outside school hours care services across the state and provide support for costs including equipment, setup and administration, educators, staff training, facility upgrades and transport.

Grants of up to $75,000 per annum will be available for up to 400 government schools or clusters of schools that deliver primary aged education without an existing OSHC service (mainstream primary schools, specialist schools, P-12 schools).

Grant applications will open at the beginning of Term 1 2021.

For more information visit: Free kinder.

More information

Specific advice about early childhood education and service operations can be found on our coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for early childhood services webpage.

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee is the key committee for health emergencies. It's comprised of all state and territory Chief Health Officers and is chaired by the Australian Chief Medical Officer. Updates for early childhood and schools can be found on Australian Health Protection Principal Committee

Department employee policy and guidelines can be found at Working from Home.

Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment

Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package details can be found through the Commonwealth Department of Education, Skills and Employment

Child Care Subsidy details are available at frequently asked questions.

Reviewed 27 November 2020

Coronavirus Victoria

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