Special Series 2 of 10: Our Services Policies and Procedures
Welcome to the second edition of our new 10-week news article campaign. Over the next 8 weeks, we will be discussing some challenging topics that educators deal with on a daily basis. The purpose of each news article is to make educators think and reflect on their practices and ensure that the decisions made are respectful of the children’s rights and needs. This article will look at one of the most important parts of our practice, our services policies and procedures. I know it can be a dull and boring topic, but a services policies and procedures are the backbone of their operation and offer support for all stakeholders during the services daily operations.
Besides being legally required, a services policies and procedures are useful for many reasons, such as guiding educator’s practices, informing parents of the services operations and offering support to students who may be studying within your service. With policies and procedures used by so many people, it is very important to make sure that the correct information is being presented. So how does your service ensure that the information is relevant and up to date? I know it may be hard but implementing strategies that ensure policies are regularly reviewed is so important, especially when updating policies and procedures is not just the job of management, but of all the services stakeholders. The National Quality Standards look for how services include educators, support staff and families into the revision process and this might mean the difference in a services Quality Rating. So think about how you encourage participation from staff and families into the review process and how else you could get them involved.
I have read a lot of policies and even though they say similar things, some policies make it easy to read, while others are so full of jargon that I find myself having to re-read them several times to ensure the relevant information is evident. I was once employed to update a services policy folder, as they were very outdated (some by over 5 years) and the only request from the director, was that they be easy to understand for her staff that speak English as a second language. I completely agreed. The layout of your policies is so important. It’s important to think to yourself “what is the purpose of this policy and what do I want people to know when they read it”? Make sure that people don’t just read it, but understand it as well. It’s great to have policies, but if people don’t understand what they mean, then problems may occur.
The Education and Care Services National Regulations say that a services policies and procedures must be available to all relevant stakeholders, therefore this makes it important to ensure that they are in an accessible format for all to access. I have experienced services with all the policies online, however this often makes it difficult for educators to “quickly” find something they are unsure about. Also, not all families may have internet access or have a strong understanding how to use technology. So how do you cater for all individuals to ensure they all have access? What adjustments can be made to cater for different circumstances? Do they have to be in a folder or could they be made a bit attractive and pleasing to view? Get creative.
Thanks for reading the second instalment of reflection news articles. If you would like to provide feedback, comments or suggestions about what challenges you in your service or in the sector, please head over to our forum page.