Vacation care services

October | 2020

Out of school hours care (OSHC) services offer education and care mainly to school-age children.

This can be through one or all of these services:

  • before-school care
  • after-school care
  • vacation care.

The majority of OSHC services in South Australia operate from a primary school.

This fact sheet provides information about important factors approved providers should consider when operating vacation care services, particularly on a school site, to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of all children attending the service.

Responsible person

A responsible person must be present whenever the service is educating and caring for children. This is required by the Education and Early Childhood Services (Registration and Standards) Act 2011 (SA) (also called the National Law).

This person can be the approved provider, the nominated supervisor or a responsible person in day-to-day charge of the service. The nominated supervisor or responsible person must understand their legal responsibilities and obligations and provide written consent to taking on this role.

The responsible person must clearly understand that they are holding that role.

On a school site, the nominated supervisor is often the school principal. If the principal is not available during any vacation care period, the approved provider and principal (as the nominated supervisor) must ensure a responsible person is selected who can effectively lead the service during this time.

The approved provider should consider the person’s qualifications, experience, skills and capabilities. The responsible person must have a thorough understanding of the policies and procedures of the service. They must also have an adequate knowledge of the requirements of the relevant legislation. This is the National Law and the Education and Care Services National Regulations (National Regulations). They need to be able to exercise the supervisory, leadership and management responsibilities of the role.

In all instances, if the nominated supervisor is not present at the service, a responsible person must be able to manage the day-to-day operations of the service. It is recommended that the school principal, if he/she is the nominated supervisor, is contactable during the vacation care period if necessary and in the event of an emergency.

While the nominated supervisor may not be on site during the vacation care program, he/she still holds the legal responsibilities for the OSHC service, in accordance with the National Law.

Approved providers must identify and display information about the nominated supervisor and the responsible persons at the education and care service at all times.

Enrolment information

Services should have thorough enrolment policies and procedures. This is to ensure the needs of individual children can be planned for and strategies developed to meet their needs.

Enrolment information must be available to the responsible person and educators during the vacation care period. This includes information about children such as:

  • the contact details for parents and emergency contacts
  • any authorised person who has been given permission by a parent or family member to collect the child from the service
  • details of any court orders, parenting orders or parenting plans
  • current written authorisations signed by the parent (e.g. consent to medical treatment from a doctor, hospital or ambulance service and transportation of the child by an ambulance service)
  • current information about the health-care needs of the child
  • current medical-management plan
  • details of any dietary restrictions.

Access to documents

Documents must be available about individual educators, such as:

  • educator qualifications
  • first-aid qualifications
  • asthma- and anaphylaxis-management qualifications
  • working with children checks.

These documents must always be accessible to the OSHC service. If these documents are stored in the school’s office, the approved provider must ensure copies are also available in the OSHC service.

Preschool-age children attending vacation care

The National Law and the National Regulations allow for OSHC services to educate and care for a small number of children aged 36 months to preschool age. If children under school age are enrolled, the service will need to plan for these children by:

  • maintaining minimum ratios for preschool-age children of one educator to 11 children (1:11)
  • ensuring adequate supervision at all times for the younger children, e.g. supervising access to the toilet facilities
  • using the Belonging, being and becoming: the early years learning framework for Australia to develop a program to meet each child’s developmental needs, interests and experiences
  • ensuring the need for sleep and rest of the younger children is considered
  • ensuring the furniture and resources are appropriate for all children’s ages
  • considering the age appropriateness of the indoor and outdoor environment provided for the younger children.

For further information see the Preschool-age children attending OSHC fact sheet.

Notification of incidents

The responsible person must have a clear understanding of their responsibility to report serious incidents. They must also know when, and in what circumstances, they must notify us—and the timelines. Serious incidents, in particular, must be notified to us within 24 hours of the incident. Non-serious incident notifications are required within seven days.

During the vacation care program, in the absence of the approved provider or nominated supervisor at the premises, there must be a process to ensure notifications are made within the timeframes.

For further information about notifications, please see ACECQA’s website.

Communication with the school

If the OSHC service is provided on school grounds, it is essential to ensure clear communication between the service and the school before each school holiday.

In situations such as site refurbishing or upgrades—like asbestos removal, major outdoor works or gym resurfacing—that would result in the temporary relocation of the service, the approved provider must ensure any alternative premises are approved by us in advance.

The approved provider must ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of children attending the vacation care service at all times. This includes ensuring:

  • the approved facilities are available to the vacation care service during the hours of operation
  • there is no disruption to essential services, such as site security, cleaning services, garbage collection, and internet access
  • any scheduled school maintenance or refurbishment projects occurring at the school during the school holidays will not impact upon or affect the day-to-day operation of the service.

Schools should ensure the OSHC service is familiar with, and has all emergency contact details, in case any site safety issues or emergencies arise when the principal and other school personnel are not on site during school holidays.

Authorisation and risk assessment: excursions and incursions

During vacation care periods many services have visitors (incursions) and/or visit locations in the community with children (excursions).

During these, the approved provider and nominated supervisor are responsible for ensuring that children’s safety, health and wellbeing is protected, children are adequately supervised at all times and the service complies with the National Law and Regulations.

Authorisation for transportation must be given. See Safe transportation of children fact sheet by ACECQA.

Excursions and incursions have the potential to increase the nature and degree of risk to children. These will vary depending on circumstances, such as:

  • the number of children
  • the length of time children are at the service
  • new children, who are unfamiliar with educators, other children, the environment and routines
  • preschool-age children in attendance
  • children with additional needs
  • children being exposed to people other than educators employed at the service
  • unfamiliar environments, activities and resources
  • various methods of transport
  • using public toilets and facilities.

Undertaking a risk assessment is part of planning an activity, incursion and excursion. The risk assessment must identify and assess factors that may pose a risk to the safety, health or wellbeing of any child. It should detail strategies for minimising and managing those risks.

Matters that must be considered in a risk assessment are listed in r. 101 and the Safe transportation of children fact sheet.

All risk assessments should be endorsed by the approved provider and the nominated supervisor.

Emergencies: invacuation and evacuation

Emergency, invacuation and evacuation procedures and instructions may also vary slightly for the vacation care program.

For example, you need to consider how to sound the alarm when no school administration personnel are on site. Approved providers should develop emergency procedures to suit vacation care programs that operate during school holiday periods.

Approved providers should:

  • identify potential emergencies that are relevant to the service
  • review the emergency, invacuation and evacuation procedures and instructions before each school holiday, e.g. these may differ during bushfire season and other times of the year
  • ensure the emergency, evacuation and invacuation procedures are rehearsed every three months and the rehearsals are documented.

Further information

Fact sheets by the Education Standards Board:

Contact details

Education Standards Board
Phone: (08) 8226 0077 or 1800 882 413
Email: educationstandardsboard [at]

This fact sheet provides guidance for approved providers of education and care services to help them operate in line with the National Quality Framework. We also recommend referring directly to the legislation: