This stage relates to the physical premises, either the centre or family day care (FDC) residences (homes) or venues, where children receive education and care. It starts after provider approval is granted.
For readability we have used ‘service premises’ to refer to ‘education and care service premises’.
Types of service approval
There are two types of service approval under the NQF:
- Centre-based service – for long day care (LDC), kindergarten and outside school hours care (OSHC) services
- FDC service – delivered by two or more educators in two or more residences or venues.
You must hold or have applied for a provider approval before you can apply for a service approval. An application for service approval cannot be granted unless the provider approval is granted.
Approved providers wanting to operate an education and care service in Victoria must apply to the Victorian Regulatory Authority for a new service approval.
This applies for all providers, including those that have been approved in other States or Territories in Australia.
How to apply
The provider must submit their application through NQAITS.
There are different requirements for Centre-based and FDC services.
The application for new service approval for a centre-based service must include the following:
- the information listed in regulation 24 about the service’s operating context
- the service’s proposed policies and procedures in regulation 168
- the details for one or more individuals to be nominated supervisors for the service including their written consent.
- the information listed in regulation 25 about the service site and building
- "building practitioner" means:
- a registered building surveyor, building inspector or draftsperson in Victoria or
- a registered architect in Victoria or
- a licensed surveyor in Victoria or
- a licensed or registered as a building certifier or
- an accredited building designer used to provide education and care services.
- evidence that the approved provider holds a current insurance policy providing adequate cover for the education and care service against public liability with a minimum cover of $10,000,000.
- Payment of the required application fee.
Family Day Care services
The application for new service approval for a family day care service must include the following :
- the information listed in regulation 26
- a copy of the policies and procedures referred to in regulation 168
- included in your Health and Safety policy and procedures relating to water safety (regulation 168(2)(a)(iii)):
- details about whether or not the family day care service will permit an educator’s residence or venue to have a swimming pool or anything that may constitute a water hazard
- how the family day service and approved provider will implement and monitor a water safety policy
- included in your emergency and evacuation policy and procedure (regulation 168(2)(e)):
- a copy of an emergency management policy and procedure for managing bushfire and grassfire risks at educator residences and venues. Read more information at: Managing bushfire and grassfire risks
- a copy the additional policies and procedures referred to in regulation 169
- a copy of the family day care educator register template (regulation 153)
- a copy of the template to be used for assessing a family day care residence or family day care venue, this must include the details of how a risk assessment will be conducted (regulation 116)
- a copy of the template to be used for the staff record (regulation 154)
- evidence the approved provider holds a current insurance policy providing adequate cover for the education and care service against public liability with a minimum cover of $10,000,000.
- included in your Health and Safety policy and procedures relating to water safety (regulation 168(2)(a)(iii)):
Moving an existing service – Centre-based services
You need to apply for a new service approval if you want to change the location of an approved service.
Relocating to new premises
If an approved centre-based service is relocating for less than 12 months, the Regulatory Authority may not require all the documents in regulation 25(1)(b) relating to plans or regulation 25(1)(g) relating to the occupancy permit.
Relocating due to exceptional circumstances
If an approved centre-based service is relocating for exceptional circumstances*, the Regulatory Authority may not require:
- the information set out in regulation 24(g) - the proposed hours and days of operation of the education and care service
- the full name and contact details, including the after-hours telephone number, of each nominated supervisor
- Any of the information set out in regulation 25(1)(b), (c), (d), (e), (f) or (g).
*Exceptional circumstances are discussed in the Guide to the National Quality Framework.
Assessing a service approval
The Regulatory Authority will not accept or determine an application if the application is incomplete and does not include all the information required to be submitted with the application. Applications that are incomplete will be invalidated. An applicant wishing to resubmit or make a new application will need to pay a new application fee.
The Regulatory Authority will review the documents you have provided in detail to assess if they meet the requirements of the:
- Education and Care Services National Act 2010
- Education and Care Services National Regulations 2011.
The Regulatory Authority assesses the application for service approval by:
- reviewing all the prescribed information submitted with the application
- inspecting the physical premises of a centre-based services
- reviewing the service’s policies and procedures
- reviewing other information provided as part of the application.
There are requirements for the physical environment of service premises about:
- natural light
- access to natural environments
- calculations of space for maximum numbers of children.
The maximum numbers of children that can be approved to attend the service are determined by calculations of unencumbered indoor and outdoor space that is available to children.
Read about Space requirements at early childhood services.
The Regulatory Authority will grant an application for service approval once they are satisfied that the service, if permitted to operate:
- would not constitute an unacceptable risk to the safety, health or wellbeing of children who would be educated or cared for by the education and care service.
- that the applicant is capable of operating the proposed service in a way that meets the requirements of the Law or these Regulations or the National Quality Standard.
- in the case of a centre-based service, that the applicant is entitled to occupy the education and care service premises.
Conditions on service approval
The Regulatory Authority may apply a condition to a service approval:
- when they are first granted or
- at any other time.
An approved provider must comply with the condition on their service approvals. There are severe penalties for approved providers who fail to comply with conditions on approvals.
All service approvals are granted subject to the condition that the service must be operated in a way that ensures:
- the safety, health and wellbeing of the children being educated and cared for by the service
- that the educational and developmental needs of the children being educated and cared for by the service are met
- that sufficient persons are appointed as FDC co-ordinators to monitor and support the FDC educators engaged by or registered with the service
- that each FDC educator is adequately monitored and supported by a FDC co-ordinator
- Complying with the Child Safe Standards.
On the granting of a service approval, the approved provider must ensure that:
- the service commences ongoing operation within 6 months of the approval being granted (unless the Regulatory Authority agrees to an extension of time).
- the approved provider must hold the prescribed insurance for their service
- within 3 months, a Quality Improvement Plan is prepared for the service and available on request
- the annual service fee is paid by 1 July each year
- the service approval certificate is displayed so it is positioned so that it is clearly visible to anyone from the main entrance to the education and care service premises.
FDC: Condition for risk of bushfire and grassfire
All services approvals for FDC services operating in Victoria are granted with conditions that require the approved provider to identify all their educators whose residence or venue are located in an area prone to bushfire or grassfire at risk. The conditions require the approved proider to ensure:
- FDC educators must close and not operate their service on any day that the Victorian Emergency Management Commissioner declares as a ‘Catastrophic’ fire danger rating for the for location of FDC educator’s residence or venue.
- the service must develop and maintain an Emergency Management Plan for the service and FDC educators to manage bushfire and grassfire related risks.
Amendment of service approval to vary conditions
An approved provider may apply to the Regulatory Authority for an amendment to their service approval to vary conditions on the approval. The amendment can remove, add or vary the condition on service approval.
Approved providers must not make any changes to their service’s operation until they are notified the application for an amendment has been granted by the Regulatory Authority.
Applications for an amendment are submitted through NQAITS.
A responsible person must be present at all times a centre-based service is educating and caring for children. A responsible person can be one of the following:
- the approved provider or a person with management or control of the provider if the approved provider is not an individual
- the nominated supervisor of the service, including written evidence that the nominated supervisor has consented to hold this position
- a person in day-to-day charge of service.
The approved provider of a family day care service must ensure a support person is available at all times that the service is delivering education and care.
A support person can be:
- the approved provider, or a person with management or control of the family day care service, if the approved provider is not an individual
- the nominated supervisor of the service
- a person in day-to-day charge of the family day care service.
The support person may provide support to family day care educators by phone.
Nominated supervisors and persons in day to day charge
The approved provider must:
- not operate a service without at least one nominated supervisor for that service
- consider the Nominated supervisors and persons in day to day charge’s compliance with the any current and previous education and care services law or education law.
- keep a record in relation to each nominated supervisor and any persons in day-to-day charge of a service (regulation 177(1)(n)).
Nominated supervisors and persons in day to day charge must:
- meet minimum requirements (regulation 117A and 117B), and
- consent to be nominated in their role in writing.
- be 18 years or above
- have adequate knowledge and understanding of the provision of education and care
- have the ability to effectively supervise and manage a service.
Working With Children Check requirements – all services
Everyone at an early childhood service must hold either:
- a current Working with Children Check (WWCC) or
- valid teacher registration through the Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT).
In Victoria approved providers:
- must read, or ensure that the nominated supervisor or person in day to day charge of the service has read
- a person’s WWCC before that person becomes:
- an educator at a service
- a family day care educator
- a volunteer at a service.
They must also ensure that the following details are recorded:
- the identifying number and expiry date of an individual working with children check, and
- the date the WWCC was sighted.
People under 18 years cannot hold a WWCC so they must always be supervised by another educator who is over 18 years old.
People with valid teacher registration through VIT are not required to hold a WWCC.
Criminal History check requirements
A ‘criminal history record check’:
- discloses the Australia-wide criminal history of an individual
- it is issued by a police force or other authority of a state or territory
- it is required for provider approval.
The approved provider of a Victorian FDC service must:
- read, or ensure that the nominated supervisor or person in day to day charge of the service has read
- a person’s criminal history record check
- before that person is engaged or registered as a family day care educator.
The amount of your annual service fee depends on the size of your service.
For more information on other topics relating to service approval refer to:
For more information and assistance about starting a service, contact our Enquiries and Support Team on: