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  • Writer's pictureJack Ritchie

Policies & Procedures: Technology's Role

Updated: Aug 2, 2022

It's easy to feel like policies and procedures are something we have to do - literally speaking, that is the case under regulation 168.

But why should we invest in getting better at our policies and procedures, and how do we monitor the relationship between these documents and the day-to-day activities of the service?

Adapted from a previous podcast episode, we explore the topic with Dr. Brenda Abbey.

Why Invest In Policies and Procedures?

In theory, policies and procedures shape everything that happens in an early education service. Most centres have educators with differing levels of experience, but a good set of policies and procedures allows all team members to reflect the service, according to Dr. Abbey:

"Let's say you open a new centre. You may have some staff with little experience and some with lots of experience. You need educators to bring that knowledge and experience, but in some ways to park that at the front door because it's a new centre. Rather than the more experienced educators doing what they used to do, everybody needs to be on the same page. That's why I love policies and procedures for the effect they can have on team building."

In a sector with many differing levels of qualifications, experience and responsibilities amongst educators, Brenda's approach to policies and procedures can act like the glue that helps all educators maintain a level of service that reflects the centre, which is a huge part of the 168 regulations.

Getting the Right Balance

When approaching policies and procedures, Dr. Abbey tries to marry what she calls the 'core non-negotiables' (the regulations and quality standards) with the daily operations and terminology of the service:

"Some services might have a strong approach with families where they say, 'this is how we operate, this is what we require,' whereas other centres might take a softer approach and say, 'we’d like parents to do this.' So I always start with the core, and then reflect on how the service is going to operate, looking at the vision and goals of the service."

For example, when the move from state/territory legislation moved to a national approach, Brenda worked hard for 4 months to drill down on getting this right. The new national legislation was less prescriptive and used new terminology, so her services' policies and procedures had to reflect that.

She also believes in a balance between consistency and creativity when it comes to the policies and procedures in her services:

"We use our brains; we're creative; we're not uniform across all 4 centres, but we are consistent, and that consistency comes from our policies and procedures."

Too Much or Too Little

It's an age-old debate when it comes to policies and procedures: how much is too much?

Dr. Abbey's approach is all about policies being short and readable, with an accompanying procedure that includes detail:

"In the example of child protection policies, some of those are 18 pages long. With a policy, we want the educators to know what they need to do, so I might say 'educators must know to look out for indicators of abuse' and I'll underline that and have an accompanying information sheet or procedure that says what the indicators of abuse are."

This makes the policies easy to be reviewed, whilst the procedures are kept for times when educators actually need to refer to them when seeking what to do in a particular situation.

Brenda states that policies should be overarching, whereas procedures talk about how we do things (including who is responsible).

By taking this approach, services can prevent repetition by allowing the accompanying procedures and information sheets to reflect several policies.

In an age where technology allows us to do more in less time, there is a trend that people feel like they need to write more to appease stakeholders and meet all of the quality areas, but the point of technology is to save you time and help you be more efficient.

As a software provider, we have a duty to promote the responsible use of technology, so connecting educators, owners and directors with people like Brenda is important for us to allow you to use our software responsibly, without telling you how to run your service.

Technology's Role in Policies & Procedures

Early Ed-Tech solutions like OWNA allow for greater communication and vision. Owners, directors and families see what goes on in the centre every day (with varying levels of access, of course), and the service has greater communication with its families.

By giving owners and directors a more honest reflection of the service, this makes policies and procedures more relevant, and thus more likely to be followed. The increased communication with families also allows them to be part of the process, promoting collaborative relationships.

As an owner of 4 ECEC services, Dr. Abbey likes the access that OWNA grants her when it comes to maintaining consistency amongst the centres:

"It allows us to be a bit more scientific in our approach, and it's great for our consistency between the centres."

The data we provide can really help those with an analytical eye. For those who look for more anecdotal feedback, the increase in communication allows you to work it how you see fit.

That's the role we see for technology in ECEC.

We try to give everyone the features they need to run their service how they see fit, and allow them the ability to turn off the features they don't need so they can work efficiently.

There is no one-size-fits-all policy when it comes to using software for the good of your service, and our aim is to cater our childcare management platform for everybody, as much as we can.

To see how OWNA's all-in-one CCMS can cater to your ECEC service's needs, why not book in a demo with one of our team and see it for yourself? With FREE CCS, all the relevant documentation, and the access to information that's vital for reflecting within your centre, we're proud to offer the most comprehensive platform for early childhood at a fraction of the price that our competitors charge.

Don't believe us? See for yourself!

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