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Wednesday, 29 November 2000
Page: 20208

Senator Mark Bishop asked the Minister for Family and Community Services, upon notice, on 14 September 2000:

(1) What does the department define as `quality child care'.

(2) What will the new sponsor do differently to provide quality day care from day one, if the scheme is not already providing quality day care.

(3) What guarantee will the Minister and the new sponsor give that businesses can continue to operate as they currently do; that is, to maintain the same days, hours and numbers of children.

(4) What bargaining and negotiating role will the current: (i) Association, (ii) Scheme, (iii) parents, (iv) carers and (v) community members have in determining the new sponsor's policies, fees and procedures.

Senator Newman (Minster for Family and Community Services and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women) —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) The Association's funding agreement and the Family Day Care Handbook outline the requirements for services to meet in order to provide quality care. This includes a requirement that schemes select appropriately qualified staff and caregivers and operate in a way which will best meet the developmental, social, intellectual, physical and emotional needs of children.

The National Standards for Family Day Care describe standards necessary to ensure the provision of home based care that is safe, nurturing and developmentally appropriate.

(2) I repeat that this is not a new sponsor of the existing scheme, but an entirely new scheme. The sponsor will be required to comply with the terms and conditions of the funding agreement and Family Day Care Handbook and has demonstrated this capacity for the past 14 years in the running of another Family Day Care Scheme in Western Australia.

(3) If by 'businesses' the Senator means carers, then I can advise him that carers must operate according to the requirements of the Department and the organisation they belong to. Those carers who choose to remain with the present scheme must abide by the requirements of that scheme. Those who operate under the new scheme will need to operate in accordance with that scheme's requirements.

(4) (i) The Association has no role in the new scheme.

(ii) The existing Scheme will have no role with the new Scheme;

(iii) to (v) In relation to parents, carers and community members, the new scheme is required to have a locally-based reference group which will provide input into scheme operation. Indeed, the Family Day Care Handbook requires that schemes provide opportunities for involvement of parents using the scheme and for carers and staff. Policies, fees and procedures will be guided by the local reference group. Furthermore, I am advised that the elected chair of that reference group will also sit on the Board of the new sponsor.