Policy Guide, Templates & Checklists

What policies a service legally must have

teacher support groupMany early childhood services are caught up in a sea of paperwork under a belief that a policy on nearly everything needs to exist.

But it doesn’t according to Dr Sarah Alexander, chief executive of ChildForum.

A service must have a written child protection policy, under the licensing criteria for early childhood centres and for Home-based ECE services and that’s the only specified policy requirement.

“Of course services ‘should’ have policies on other things, such as alcohol and other substances on the premises, but this is under guidance or the Ministry of Education's opinion and is not a legal requirement as such”, said Dr Alexander

However there are education requirements for documentation in many areas of ECE service operation, and for this Dr Alexander refers early childhood services to the My ECE website table showing minimum early childhood education documentation requirements as it’s a most concise and useful reference.

According to the My ECE under the Education Act required documentation must be available as appropriate to parents and to public officials who have right of entry to the service. 

Documentation can take various forms including written statements outlining the basic procedures to be taken concerning different activities and problem, records, and wall displays.  

Often a written procedure – simply outlining what should be done and the steps – can suffice. Written procedures take less time to draft than full policies.

Relievers and other people are more likely to carry out the actions expected of them if they can quickly check to know what the procedure for dealing with something is.  Written procedures are usually displayed - such as a procedure for nappy changing displayed in the area where this happens.

Before throwing the baby out with the bathwater, Dr Alexander suggests that there are benefits to services of developing their own policies.

“Written policies are useful for setting out the shared values of participants at a service, the philosophy of the service, and shared understandings and expectations between parties (e.g. teachers and management, management and parents …) on a particular aspect (such as financial) or practice (such as sick children and attendance).”

Read more: See a policy template and tips for writing your policies.

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