Local governments across Australia make a vital contribution in strengthening the economy and securing the well-being of children and families. Ensuring existing and future communities have access to adequate child care is an ongoing challenge. To address this challenge, the Commonwealth Department of Education engaged the UTS Centre for Local Government and Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government to develop national Guidelines for the Planning and Development of Child Care Facilities. These guidelines are now available for local governments, developers and child care providers. They enable councils to plan better for the future child care needs of their community through their strategic planning, land use planning and development assessment functions. The guidelines provide evidence-based guidance and easy to use checklists to help local governments build capacity to plan systematically and strategically. Supporting councils to work in partnership with a range of stakeholders to improve the availability of child care is also an important objective of the guidelines.
All local governments can shape the availability of child care through strategic planning, land use planning and development assessment processes. Through these functions, they help decide the priority of child care in their locality, where it is located and the size and the type of child care provided. Local governments work within a broader context of state and national policy, legislation and regulations which govern the land use planning and service approval processes. Within this framework, access to child care can be facilitated by local governments planning in collaboration with other government agencies, child care providers and the local community. The information contained in the Guidelines for the Planning and Development of Child Care Facilities can also inform discussions with state level organisations responsible for the establishment and delivery of child care services. The ultimate objective is to promote more streamlined mechanisms for development and service approval.
Guidelines for the Planning and Development of Childcare Facilities won a Planning Institute of Australia (NSW) Planning Excellence Award in 2014. This original resource provides up-to-date, inter- jurisdictional planning advice and resources for councils looking to increase the availability of child-care centres within their municipalities.