Early Learning quality update – November 2015

Quality reminders for the Early Learning sector for November 2015 including Health and Safety At Work Act and Vulnerable Children’s Act key dates.

Upcoming legislation for the ECE sector

There are several new Acts coming in that early childhood education (ECE) services, kōhanga reo and playgroups need to know about.

Key dates to be aware of are listed in the tables below.

Vulnerable Children Act 2014

WhenWhat
Now Child protection policies must be in place.
From 1 July 2015, all new core children’s workers must be safety checked prior to employment commencing.
The workforce restriction applies to new core children’s workers.
From 1 July 2016 All new non-core children’s workers must be safety checked prior to employment commencing.
The workforce restriction applies to existing core children’s workers.
By 1 July 2018 All existing core children’s workers must be safety checked.
By 1 July 2019 All existing non-core children’s workers must be safety checked.

The Ministry website has information on ECE sector requirements under the Vulnerable Children Act, including Questions and Answers and links to the Children’s Action Plan website and guidelines. 

Health and Safety at Work Act 2015

WhenWhat
4 April 2016 The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 comes into effect. The regulations underpinning the Act will be phased in after that date. They are currently draft and are going through the Parliamentary process.

The Ministry website has information on the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 from an education perspective, including factsheets and guidance. You can also email your questions to us at healthandsafety.info@education.govt.nz.

Food Act 2014

ECE centres and kōhanga reo that provide meals to children will need to meet the requirements of National Programme 2 under the Food Act.

ECE centres and kōhanga reo that only carry out minimal food handling (e.g. cutting fruit and providing crackers and spreads) or where children bring lunchboxes are exempt from the Food Act.

All home-based services are exempt from the Food Act.

WhenWhat
From 1 March 2016 New ECE centres and kōhanga reo that provide meals must meet the requirements.
By 31 March 2017 Existing ECE centres and kōhanga reo that provide meals must have applied to their local Territorial Authority for registration.
By 30 June 2017 Existing ECE centres and kōhanga reo that provide meals must be meeting the requirements. They can choose when to transition any time from 1 March 2016.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has provided more information on National Programmes and detailed information and examples of how the Food Act applies to education providers.

Read more about what the Food Act means for ECE services.

Educator first aid qualifications reminder for home-based services

We would like to remind home-based early childhood education (ECE) service providers they are responsible for ensuring all educators have a current first aid qualification.

To meet home-based health and safety licensing criterion 22 there must be a first aid qualified adult with the children at all times.

Under the Operational Guidelines for Home-based HS22 - first aid qualification condition clause there is an allowance for new educators to gain a first aid qualification within four months of starting work at the service. This does not apply to existing educators at the service.

Having a register of each educator’s qualification expiry date, or using calendar reminders, are an easy way you can make sure educators’ qualifications are kept up to date.

New food safety law

All early childhood education (ECE) services and kōhanga reo must make sure the food they serve children is safe and suitable to eat. Some services will have additional obligations under the new food safety law – the Food Act 2014 (the Food Act).

What’s changing and why?

  • The Food Act applies to anyone who provides food as part of their business
  • It requires people to provide food that is safe to eat
  • It helps you to manage food safety risks in a way that suits your organisation
  • It will help give parents confidence that their children’s food is safe.

What does it mean for ECE services?

Most education and care centres and kōhanga reo that provide meals and food to children will need to operate under National Programme 2. Other ECE services will be exempt.

To find out if the new food safety law applies to you, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has an online tool ‘Where do I fit?’. This will help you find out what rules you need to follow under the Food Act.

There will be more information to help you determine where you fit in future updates on the MPI Food Act website. 

What do you need to do?

If you are on National Programme 2

  • Make food safe. Meet food safety requirements by, for example, keeping hands and kitchen surfaces clean, keeping cooked and raw food separate, and cooking and storing food at the right temperature.
  • Register with your local council and renew your registration every two years.
  • Get checked by a ‘verifier’ (e.g. a council environmental health officer). This may be as little as once every three years if you are managing food safety well.

If you are exempt

  • Make food safe by keeping hands and kitchen surfaces clean, keeping cooked and raw food separated, and cooking and storing food at the right temperature.
  • You don’t need to register or be verified.

When do you need to do it?

From 1 March 2016:

New ECE services on National Programme 2 opening on or after this date must be registered and meeting the requirements.

By 31 March 2017:

Existing ECE services on National Programme 2 must have applied for registration.

By 30 June 2017:

Existing ECE services on National Programme 2 must be registered and meeting the requirements.

What should you do now?

You can find out more about the Food Act 2014 on the MPI Food Act website.

In the New Year you will find more resources there to help you follow the new law.

If you have any questions, contact MPI by emailing info@mpi.govt.nz or calling 0800 008 333.

Transporting children to and from ECE services and kōhanga reo

Some early childhood education (ECE) services and kōhanga reo provide transport to and from their service. This is not part of the regulated service provision and is not funded by the Ministry of Education. Rather, it is a private arrangement between the ECE service or kōhanga reo and the child’s family.

However, if you are providing transport, you still need to consider how you will meet regulatory requirements including processes for:

  • signing children in and out
  • parents/caregivers regularly examining and confirming attendance records.

The ECE service or kōhanga reo is also responsible for developing policies and practices for transportation that meet the health and safety needs of children.

Information about the requirements, and what you need to do to meet them, is on the Ministry website transporting children to and from ECE.

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