Early years management - Expression of Interest

Published: 9 May 2017

We are calling for Expressions of Interest for the provision of Early Childhood Education services.

Frequently asked questions

Why are we calling for Expressions of Interest (EOI) for the provision of Early Childhood Education services?

In 2014, we entered into a 3-year licence agreement with the current early years’ manager, Kinders Together, to provide early years’ education services at a number of Council-owned facilities. Those licences expire at the end of this year.

At the time of issuing the Licences, Kinders Together agreed that an open Expression of Interest process would take place in early-mid 2017 to issue licences beyond 2017. It was also agreed that licences issued for 2017 and beyond would be 5-year licences.

We have now commenced the process that was agreed to in 2014.

Outcomes of the EOI process will be communicated by 3 July to ensure that the community can be notified before kindergarten offers for 2018 are made in the second week of July.

What outcome is Council hoping to achieve?

As part of our central planning role, we are reviewing early years’ management (previously known as cluster management) arrangements to ensure they remain responsive to the needs of local communities.

In Cardinia Shire, the largest growing population is children aged 0-4 years. The EOI process will ensure that children and families continue to have access to high quality, inclusive services in the municipality that are responsive to their needs, both now and into the future. We will not allow closure of any kindergartens as a result of this process.

Over recent years there has been significant policy reforms aimed at improving outcomes for all children by further improving access to and the quality of Early Childhood Education and Care. Opening the EOI to a range of providers ensures that the very best providers in the market have an opportunity to deliver high quality services for families in Cardinia Shire.

Q.  What is the benefit of an Early Years Manager?

Early Years Manager (EYM) organisations lead and manage sustainable services that are focused on improving outcomes for children. The benefits of EYM are multiple:

  • children benefit from high-quality, inclusive services provided by professionals who are well supported to adopt contemporary and evidence-based practices
  • parents can focus their involvement on supporting their children’s learning free of the compliance, industrial, financial and operational obligations required of approved early childhood service providers
  • staff benefit from organisational structures and processes that support them in their day-to-day work, but also have a view to the future creating career pathways and professional development opportunities that align with their aspirations.

Why is this our responsibility?

The Victorian Government has developed an Early Years Management Framework that clearly articulates the roles and responsibilities of each partner involved in the delivery of this vital community service. The framework describes the local government role as:

Local Government is the third tier of government and plays a key legislative role in strategically planning and coordinating early years’ services within a municipality. Its role is to understand and represent the interests of the local community, and be a major provider of early years’ facilities and services.’ 

We fulfil this role in various ways:

  • collecting data through our services
  • community surveys
  • collation of statistics and trends;
  • and working closely with range of local service providers (of which the Early Years Manager is one) to determine what outcomes are being achieved for children in Cardinia Shire.  

This forms the basis of the plans we develop, which are reviewed on an on-going basis in response to changing community needs and issues that may emerge for families in the future. We also have a role in supporting the effective operation of early childhood education services by providing the infrastructure, such as. child and family centres and community facilities that EYM services can operate from, and by directly providing the central enrolment and registration processes for kindergarten.

The framework describes the responsibilities of an EYM organisation as:

  • Strategic planning (consult and collaborate with local government and community)
  • Engaging with local community around understanding of the needs of families and to collaborate with local government to ensure responsive services are provided
  • Ensuring access for all children and being proactive around the participation of particular children experiencing vulnerability, newly arrive, Aboriginal children and those with a disability or developmental delay
  • Engaging families in decision making
  • Recruitment, management and development of staff
  • Sound financial management
  • Providing continuous service improvement

As our 3-year Licence Agreements will expire with the current Early Years’ Manager at the end of term 4 2017, we have commenced an open EOI process to ensure that EYM arrangements in the shire continue to meet the requirements of the government's framework and the needs of the current and future family population. In response to a request from the current Early Years’ Manager, we are extending future Licence Agreements to 5 years.

How will fees be determined for 2017 and beyond?

Each Early Years Manager sets their own fees according to the programs, running costs and funding from Department of Education and Training. We will work with the Early Years Manager to ensure that the fees are consistent with the current fee structure. As is the usual practice, the Early Years Manager will determine fees in the July-September quarter.

How will this affect the early childhood educators that are currently in place?

The current Early Years’ Manager, Kinders Together, is the employer of the early childhood teachers and other operational support staff.  As such they have the responsibility to ensure that their staff have the information on the EOI process and are updated on its progress.

Should the current Early Years’ Manager be successful in the EOI process, they will have the responsibility to allocate their resources accordingly and support their staff in the planning process for the delivery of service for the next 5 years. We will support this process alongside the Early Years’ Manager.

Should the Early Years’ Management arrangements change as a result of the EOI process, it is anticipated that any staff affected by that change will have the opportunity to consider new options for themselves. We will support a process with any new provider to factor possible employment opportunities for interested staff into their business transition planning.

What is the process?

The process will operate in the same way as a tender in line with Council processes. The EOI will be open for 6 weeks:

Opened at 9am on 1 April

Closes at 2pm on 16 May

Outcomes will be communicated by 3 July to ensure that the community can be notified before kindergarten offers for 2018 are made in second week of July.

We wishes to emphasise that the EOI process will ensure that the very best kindergarten provision is available for all children across the shire.