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Supervision: key to children’s safety

6 July 2020

All children being educated and cared for must be adequately supervised at all times. It’s everyone’s responsibility. However approved providers, nominated supervisors and family day care educators have a specific responsibility under the National Law.

Active supervision is important to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children. It supports meaningful interactions between educators and children. It also protects children from harm and any hazard likely to cause injury. See the Education and Care Services National Law, ss. 165 and 167.

Adequate supervision is different for different age groups

Adequate supervision is actively observing and relating to individual children and groups of children. Meeting staff-to-child ratios does not necessarily mean children are being adequately supervised. Young children should be in sight and/or sound of educators. This depends on the environment and activity they are engaging in. It should also take into consideration the children’s’ ages and individual needs.

Adequate supervision is likely to vary for the particular service types. Children of different ages and abilities need various levels of supervision. Generally, the younger the children are, the more they need an adult to be close by to support and assist them.

For school-age children in OSHC, educators should balance the need for close supervision with the child’s growing need for privacy and autonomy. Services should consider developing supervision plans and/or risk assessments. This is particularly so in cases where bathrooms or playgrounds are located away from the service, to ensure children are adequately supervised.

In family day care, some children may be located in different parts of the home, sleeping or playing outside. Family day care educators need to consider how they can adequately supervise all children in their particular environment.

All services should consider how their environments may affect children’s safety. For example, while promoting children’s sense of agency and exploration, they should consider risks such as bushes, trees or other obstacles that could prevent adequate supervision. Educators can consider how to create the perception of risk for a child while being able to safely supervise their play at all times.