For centre-based services, some centres calculate ratios across the whole service, not by individual rooms. The term used is "under the roof".
In The Regulations
In accordance with regulation 121, the minimum number of educators and their qualification requirements are calculated across the service, regardless of the individual room configuration. This means that ratios are not calculated on the number of children and educators present in a ‘room’ or ‘group’.
The ratio required is always calculated according to the youngest age of the child allocated to an educator for the purposes of calculating ratios.
Under regulation 122 the educator must be ‘working directly with children’ at the service. Regulation 13 of the National Regulations defines ‘working directly with children’ as being both physically present with the children and being directly engaged in providing education and care to the children.
Implementing Under The Roof Ratios
When implementing Under The Roof to calculate ratios, services need to understand:
- The number of educators required is calculated based on all children in attendance at the service regardless of grouping or room configuration.
- In a mixed age group of children, an educator who is caring for one age range of children can also be counted against another age range of children, as long as the ratio for each age range is maintained and adequate supervision is maintained at all times.
- The first step is to determine the number of educators needed for the youngest age range of children in the group. Once that ratio is met, an educator can also supervise children in another age range, provided the youngest age range is still maintained.
- Maintaining the ratio for each age range of children in the mixed age group does not mean the educator to child ratio for the youngest age range must be applied to all children in an older age range.
Please note that an educator is still considered to be working directly with children for the purposes of the educator to child ratio requirements if they are taking a rest-pause or are briefly absent in accordance with Regulations 313-317.
Let's look at a service of 30 children in attendance across the whole service.
The ratio requirements are 1: 5 (toddler room) and 1:10 (in the preschool room). There are 5 educators at the service (not including the director - who is off the floor).
In the toddler room, there are 18 toddlers which require 4 educators and in the preschool room, there are 12 preschoolers which typically requires 2 educators.
However when using the under the roof ratio, the preschool room is over ratio by 2, can have an Educator from the toddler room also supervise because they have 18 toddlers with 4 educators and the ratio is already being met in the toddler room.
Under the roof, the ratio works well in a whole group setting or when services are open between all rooms or when children are all grouped together. It will not work if rooms are completely separate or closed off from each other because adequate supervision still needs to be maintained by the Educator counted against both age ranges.
This flexibility in calculating ratios allows services the ability to tailor the operation of their service to meet the needs of families and children enrolled.
Educator to Child Ratios In Early Childhood Services, Aussie childcare Network, 14 January 2016
Under The Roof Ratio, Email received from Department Of Education, Training and Employment, 13 September 2014