Regulation of the Education and Care Sector
The ACT Regulatory Authority, Children’s Education and Care Assurance (CECA), administers the Education and Care National Law and the Education and Care Services National Regulations covering approved early childhood education and care services in the ACT.
- Quality assessment and rating of approved services
- Investigation of complaints about approved services
- Professional advice on the planning, design and establishment of new services
- An advisory service for families, children's services and the ACT community in relation to early childhood education and care.
Section 260 of the National Law specifies the functions of state and territory regulatory authorities:
- to assess services against the National Quality Standard and determine the ratings of those services
- to monitor and enforce compliance
- to receive and investigate complaints arising under the Law
- to educate and inform education and care services and the community about the National Quality Framework
- to work in collaboration with to support and promote continuous quality improvements.
Section 3 of the National Law sets out objectives and guiding principles that apply to these functions:
- to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of children attending education and care services
- to improve the educational and developmental outcomes for children attending education and care services
- to promote continuous improvement in the provision of quality education and care services.
Guiding principles significant to CECA’s function include:
- that the rights and best interests of the child are paramount
- that best practice is expected in the provision of education and care services.
If you need advice or information about early childhood education and care arrangements in the ACT call 6207 1114 and ask to speak to a CECA Education and Care Adviser.
Assessment and Rating
Every service across Australia is to be assessed and rated to make sure it meets the national benchmark. In the ACT, CECA’s authorised officers conduct quality assessments against the standard.
Further information on assessment and rating is available via the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority.
Compliance and Enforcement
The Education and Care National Law works to protect children when they are in the care of people other than their parents or guardians. It sets out what the Regulatory Authorities, such as CECA, are supposed to do, what tools are available, and fundamental obligations.
CECA undertakes compliance audits and risk assessment audits of early childhood education and care services to ensure that services are meeting their minimum requirements as set under the National Law.
The National Law provides CECA with a wide range of powers to protect children from harm and hazards or address unlawful conduct. CECA undertakes investigation of information that becomes known to it, of risk or the potential for risk to the safety, health and well-being of children.
At times, CECA may require individuals to appear and give evidence or produce documents to an authorised officer.
Where breaches of the National Law are identified, CECA may undertake compliance actions like:
- Compliance directions
- Compliance notices
- Notice to suspend education and care by a family day care educator
- Emergency action notices
- Prohibition notices
- Emergency removal of children
- Powers of Entry
- Enforceable undertakings.
Further information on CECA’s compliance framework is available in the Compliance Framework Guidebook:
Certain people are mandated to report situations where they form a belief on reasonable grounds that a child or young person has experienced abuse or neglect. The mandated reporter is not required to prove that abuse or neglect has occurred.
Section 356 of the Children and Young People Act 2008 provides a list of people who are mandated reporters, including:
- a person caring for a child at a childcare centre (this includes a childcare assistant or aide caring for a child at the childcare centre if the assistant or aide is in paid employment at the childcare centre, but does not include anyone caring for a child as an unpaid volunteer)
- a person coordinating or monitoring home-based care for a family day care scheme proprietor
- a person who, in the course of the person’s employment, has contact with or provides services to children, young people and their families and is prescribed by regulation. Further information on mandatory reporting, including reporting options, is available via the Access Canberra website.
Educate and Engage
CECA engages in educational development for the sector.
It convenes the Education and Care Sector Meeting at least three times a year, with the aim being to expand best practice and improve risk management across early childhood education and care services.
Email CECA@act.gov.au to find out when the next meeting will be held.