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Research and Capacity Building to Improve Governance and Administration of Budget Based Funded Early Childhood Education and Care Services

Client: Department of Employment, Education and Workplace Relations
Aboriginal art
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Background: In the 2010-11 Budget the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) announced the Budget Based Funded (BBF) Quality Measure. This provided $59.4M over 4 years to support BBF centre-based childcare services to meet key elements of the National Quality Standard (NQS) for Early Childhood Education and Care and School Age Care. This included improving facilities (Infrastructure element), staff qualifications (Workforce element), and governance and administrative capacity (Governance element).

DEEWR engaged Sustineo in July 2012 to design and deliver the Governance element. The objective was to build the governance and administrative capacity of BBF childcare services to meet the NQS requirements, particularly those specified in QA 7 – Leadership and Service Management. Many of the Services were in remote Indigenous communities, and faced significant organisational challenges.

Approach: In Phase 1 Sustineo undertook extensive research into current theory and practice to develop a model of governance that was suited to the cultural and socio-economic setting within which the Services operate. Importantly, this included gaining a detailed understanding of the context in which our BBF clients and partners work. Sustineo then developed tailored approaches, resources, and tools to improve governance and administrative capacity by working closely with 17 childcare services across Australia.

Using strengths-based, participatory approaches, Sustineo worked collaboratively with Boards and Service Directors to do capacity assessments where the Services identified their priority areas for development and support. This informed the development of guides, manuals and other resources tailored for the sector and cultural context. These resources represented a range of modalities, from one-on-one intensive support to written resource guides (on Financial Management, Human Resource Management and Board Member Induction) and a DVD.

In Phase 2, Sustineo’s contract was extended to provide ongoing support by visiting and working with a further 7 childcare services across Australia. This focused on refining capacity development approaches, using the governance toolkits and guides developed in the initial stage, and making recommendations for future strategic support mechanisms.

Outcome: Sustineo’s work made significant contributions to enhance capacity in program performance. Sustineo’s impact on the Services become evident very quickly with Service Directors engaging more effectively with their Boards after Sustineo brokered improved relationships. Directors reported increased ability to implement essential governance elements, for example HR policies, and effective financial reporting, and more confident leadership. Project participants noted that communication, both internally and with key stakeholders, was significantly improved. The project deliverables were context relevant and delivered to an exceptional standard, while meeting local requirements and cultural expectations.