For the staff at Cobar Outside Of School Hours (COOSH) Vacation Care their relationships with the children are their top priority and it shows with COOSH being judged as having exceeded the National Standards in their first assessment of the centre.
Run by Far West Family Day Care, the Vacation Care program began in July last year and recently underwent its first National Standards assessment.
Far West Family Day Care manager Karen Lennon said the national standards assessment is compulsory and they were required to do an in-depth quality improvement plan as part of the process.
“We assess where we think the service is at, write a quality improvement plan on where we want to head and we submit the quality improvement plan.
“Then they send out somebody to assess us against the national standards, taking into consideration what we have put into that quality improvement plan,” she said.
Mrs Lennon said the service is assessed over seven criteria areas.
COOSH met the standards in five areas and exceeded the standards in two others which were their relationships with children and staffing arrangements.
“Relationships with children is probably the most important one,” Mrs Lennon said,
She said they are required to complete the assessment to be eligible to receive federal funding and to be able access child care benefits for parents.
She said while the COOSH after school care program had been operating for a number of years, the Vacation Care program was classed as a new service because they are operating out of a new venue in the Cobar High School’s Multi Purpose Centre.
On their first assessment, because they are a new service, they are only expected to achieve “a working towards the required benchmarks” level.
“We were impressed because we were already at the ‘meeting’ level and got ‘exceeding’ in two areas.”
Mrs Lennon said child care services must meet the required benchmarks to be licensed to operate.
“If they were to come along and we weren’t doing the right things they could have shut us down, because it’s about keeping the kids safe and happy.”
She said the assessors also provided some feedback on areas that they could improve on which they have taken on board and will try to improve.
“We did lots of excursions this school holiday program and that went down really well with the children.
“We went to the men’s shed and went out for a Chinese lunch.
“We also had one day where it was all girls so we had a spa day where we did pedicures and manicures.”
She said attendance numbers at the service have been pretty good.
“I think this time next year the numbers will probably increase because parents are aware its available and that it was successful.
“We do put a lot of work into it and it has paid off,” Mrs Lennon said.