30 minute break clarification Centre Based Services only M ay 20 12 Staffing arrangements: The Education and Care Services National Regulations (the Regulations) require the educator to child ratio to be maintained at all times. For further information regarding centre based ratio requirements see regulations 121, 122 and 123. The Regulations also require that to be counted in the ratios an educator must be working directly with children. For the purposes of the Regulations educators are considered to be working directly with children at any given time if at that time the educator is Physically present; and Is directly engaged in providing education and care to the children. It is recognised that maintaining the ratios at all times, is a difficult requirement to meet. Back filling for short breaks can be problematic particularly when considering the ongoing need for ancillary tasks such as attending to laundry duties, food or bottle preparation, and all incidental cleaning needs. Regulatory Authorities throughout Australia have agreed that each individual educator in a centre based service will be allowed to take up to 30 minutes each day for the purposes of attending to ancillary tasks, personal hygiene arrangements and any other essential personal needs such as personal phone calls. The centre based service will not be considered in contravention of the prescribed ratio requirements. At all times the overarching consideration must be meeting the needs of the children. It is essential to: adequately supervise children; and protect children from harm and hazards; D e p art me n t of E d uc at ion E d uc at ion and Care Un it deliver an educational program to all children being educated and care for by the service. What is the intention of the 30 minute break agreement? The agreement for an individual educator to take up to 30 minutes each day is intended to allow for the continuous operations of a service in a manner that does not compromise the health, safety or well-being of children, while still allowing the service to be considered as meeting the requirements of the Regulations. It is not intended that the 30 minute break agreement results in situations where attending to the needs of individual needs of the children is compromised. It is intended that where an educator is using this agreement, they remain on the premises and can be called upon to return to working directly with children, if the need arises. The 30 minute break agreement can be used to allow educators to attend to any matters that may take them away from working directly with children. This may include such things as taking infant bedding to the laundry for cleaning, taking two 10 minute breaks each day, attending to personal hygiene needs, taking personal phone calls, or having private conversations with parents of children attending the service. If the 30 minute break agreement is used to allow educators to have a single break of that length, then attending to any other tasks or personal needs means the service is in contravention of the Regulations as it automatically means the educator is not working directly with the children, thus not meeting the parameters to be considered in the specified educator to child ratios. Educators’ breaks are required to be recorded, in accordance with regulation 151 (b) which required the approved provider to keep records of the hours that educators are working directly with children.