Vulnerable Children Act 2014 – early learning sector requirements
All early learning services must have a child protection policy and safety check their children’s workers. These are requirements under the Vulnerable Children Act 2014 (VCA). They are also required under our licensing and certification criteria. As well as applying to early learning services, the VCA requirements also apply to any organisation we fund to provide services to children.
We've developed a guide to help you navigate the VCA. The guide brings together a range of information and resources already published, and complements the advice and guidelines produced by the Children’s Action Plan. We recommend you use the guide in conjunction with the other resources and the licensing criteria and guidance, outlined below.
Child Protection Policy
All early learning services must have a child protection policy in place now. The policy must:
- contain provisions on the identification and reporting of child neglect and abuse, and
- be written, and
- be reviewed every 3 years.
The child protection policy licensing criteria and guidance provide detailed information on how to meet this requirement:
- HS31 for centre-based services
- HS28 for home-based services
- HS13 for hospital-based services
- HS11 for playgroups
The guidelines Safer organisations, Safer children [PDF; 1.06MB] (external link) also provide information about child protection policies.
All children’s workers must be safety checked according to the standards set out in the VCA and safety checking regulations. This includes a workforce restriction – anyone convicted of a specified offence cannot be employed or engaged as a core children’s worker, unless they have an exemption.
The safety checking requirements are being phased in:
- From 1 July 2015, all new core children’s workers must be safety checked.
- From 1 July 2016, all new non-core children’s workers must be safety checked.
- 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 safety checking licensing criteria and guidance provide detailed information on how to meet these requirements:
- GMA7A for centre-based services
- GMA6A for home-based services
- GMA7A for hospital-based services
- MA6 for playgroups
The guidelines Safer recruitment, Safer children [PDF; 1.06MB] (external link) provide information about choosing safe people to work with children.
The publication Children’s worker safety checking under the Vulnerable Children Act 2014 [PDF; 1.32MB] (external link) provides advice for interpreting and applying the safety checking regulations.
The following resources will help you meet your safety checking requirements:
- New and existing employees [PDF, 550 KB]
- Students on practicum [PDF, 547 KB]
- Relievers [PDF, 47 KB]
- Adult checks [PDF, 53 KB].
Screening service for early learning service owner operators who are children’s workers
A screening service is available to undertake safety checks for specified groups of children’s workers.
This service has been established to provide third party safety checks for children’s workers in the health, education and social development sectors who are self-employed or sole-practitioners.
In the education sector, this screening service has been approved for early learning service owner operators.
All children’s workers need to be safety checked. If you are an early learning service owner operator, and you also work in that early learning service as a children’s worker, then you need to arrange to be safety checked. You may choose to use this approved screening service to undertake that safety check for you.
There is a cost to applicants for the service.
To find out more about the service, including costs, go to the screening service provider’s website, CV Check (external link) .
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