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Surviving, and thriving in, an A&R

4 March 2019

While assessment and rating visits can feel stressful for some services, this was not the full story for Kate Kassapis, director of Port Pirie Child Care Centre. She shares her service’s experience of being assessed under the revised National Quality Standard (NQS) last year.

Can you describe your service?

“The Port Pirie Child Care Centre Inc. was opened in 1988 and is a not-for-profit community-based child-care service. The centre operates five days per week from 6.30 am to 6.30pm and is licensed to cater for 54 children aged six weeks to six years of age. The staff team consists of 29 employees who are passionate and dedicated to working in partnership with families to provide quality care and education to improve learning outcomes for children.

“Our centre is co-located within the Port Pirie West Children’s Centre, and we work in partnership to support families by providing child care, preschool, CaFHS (Child and Family Health Service) and parenting services to the community. 

“In 2018, the centre reached a significant milestone by achieving 30 years of caring and educating children in our Port Pirie community and surrounding areas. The centre has evolved over the last 30 years and seen many positive changes that enhance best possible outcomes for children, families and the community.”

How did you find it having an assessment and rating with the new NQS?

“The assessment and rating process under the new NQS was exciting! When the assessors arrived, they asked me to give them a tour of the centre. I walked them through room by room and explained all the improvements, changes and modifications that had occurred in each area. 

“I discussed the indoor and outdoor environment upgrades, the program and curriculum enhancements and our famous ‘bus pram’ that was going to enable the babies to get out and about in the community. I talked in detail of the journey that was involved in attaining these improvements and how these changes and modifications had benefited the children and families.

“I had an overwhelming sense of pride and accomplishment come over me. Wow! It was truly amazing how far we had come as a team and as a service! It was really satisfying to be able to showcase our centre’s achievements and how hard we had all worked over the years to someone with fresh eyes who wholeheartedly understood the challenges services are faced with and what the journey of providing quality care and education involves. 

“Sometimes our families are so busy during drop-off and pick-up times that they don’t see all the behind-the-scenes work that gets jam-packed into their child’s day, so it was really fulfilling to have an opportunity to share our successes with someone who comprehends the work involved.”

What were the challenges in preparing for it?

“Some of the challenges I faced as the leader of the centre was alleviating apprehensions with staff.  The thought of someone coming into the centre to observe you while you worked, was really daunting for our educators. It had been many years since our team had experienced this [the assessment and rating] process. I reassured my team that they were doing everything right and the assessment and rating is a positive process that will support us on our journey for continual improvement.”

What are the benefits for services and children?

“The benefits for services and children are that the NQF (National Quality Framework) provides a benchmark to support quality care and education for children to provide them with the best possible outcomes for the future.”

Anything else you’d like to say?

“Undergoing the assessment and rating process under the new NQS was a real positive experience. It reaffirmed we were on the right track and highlighted any areas for potential improvement. The assessors were friendly, supportive and made the educators feel at ease during the process.”

Port Pirie Child Care Centre received a rating of Exceeding the National Quality Standard.

What are the steps of an assessment and rating?
  1. An initial notification from the Education Standards Board
  2. Submission of the service’s Quality Improvement Plan
  3. Assessment and rating visit
  4. Receipt of draft report
  5. Opportunity for providing feedback
  6. Final rating and report received.

More information about the assessment and ratings process can be found on the website of the independent national authority, ACECQA.