Vulnerable Children Act 2014 – early learning sector requirements

All early learning services must have a child protection policy and safety check their children’s workers. These are requirements under the Vulnerable Children Act 2014 (VCA). They are also required under our licensing and certification criteria. As well as applying to early learning services, the VCA requirements also apply to any organisation we fund to provide services to children.

We've developed a guide to help you navigate the VCA. The guide brings together a range of information and resources already published, and complements the advice and guidelines produced by the Children’s Action Plan. We recommend you use the guide in conjunction with the other resources and the licensing criteria and guidance, outlined below.

Download Vulnerable Children Act 2014 - a practical guide  [PDF, 5.2 MB]

Child Protection Policy

All early learning services must have a child protection policy in place now. The policy must:

  • contain provisions on the identification and reporting of child neglect and abuse, and
  • be written, and
  • be reviewed every 3 years.

The child protection policy licensing criteria and guidance provide detailed information on how to meet this requirement:

The guidelines Safer organisations, Safer children [PDF; 1.06MB] also provide information about child protection policies.

Safety checking

All children’s workers must be safety checked according to the standards set out in the VCA and safety checking regulations. This includes a workforce restriction – anyone convicted of a specified offence cannot be employed or engaged as a core children’s worker, unless they have an exemption.

The safety checking requirements are being phased in:

  • From 1 July 2015, all new core children’s workers must be safety checked.
  • From 1 July 2016, all new non-core children’s workers must be safety checked.
  • By 1 July 2018, all existing core children’s workers must be safety checked.
  • By 1 July 2019, all existing non-core children’s workers must be safety checked.

The safety checking licensing criteria and guidance provide detailed information on how to meet these requirements:

The guidelines Safer recruitment, Safer children [PDF; 3.13MB] provide information about choosing safe people to work with children.

The publication Children’s worker safety checking under the Vulnerable Children Act 2014 [PDF; 1.18MB] provides advice for interpreting and applying the safety checking regulations.

The following resources will help you meet your safety checking requirements:

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