Decision, decisions …

Decision making happens daily in all early childhood services and across all levels of their operation. Decisions are made by educators working with children, room leaders, Directors and support staff. These decisions need to respond to two things – the National Quality Framework and the service’s goals. Effective decisions are made with confidence, so it’s important to develop systems that can give people this confidence.Services run on their systems. These provide information and outline ways of doing things that fit with the service’s philosophy and what it is trying to achieve. Systems include processes and policies that provide a pathway for doing the things the service needs. A process identifies a step by step way of getting from the start to the finish. A policy identifies the why, what, how, when and who and where the information that supports it comes from. Processes and policies are documented so that everyone in a service can know them and rely on them for decision making. They provide for the consistency that supports people acting with confidence.

It is important that everyone in the service is clear about their responsibility and the decisions they need to make. Every person in a service has responsibility, sometimes through the requirements of the NQF and sometimes from the service. Both are important. There are times when it may not immediately be clear what the right decision is, or who should make it. Effective systems help in these situations and need to be available for people to refer to when assistance about making decisions is needed. That is why it is important to have a document that clearly shows where responsibility sits in the service.

An effective document for doing this is a chart or table of delegations, showing what responsibilities sit with what positions in the service. Delegations are used to make it clear who is responsible for decision making in situations where this might otherwise be uncertain. The chart is a useful resource that shows everyone in the service where responsibility and decision making sits and so helps to provide a way forward. It helps people to know who should know about the situation and who to discuss it with.

Although decision making usually sits with particular positions in a service, coming to decisions can involve a number of people. Having various stakeholders contribute to decisions helps to ensure all the information needed to make good decisions will be considered. That is one of the reasons the National Quality Standard (NQS) requires educators to be active (Element 1.2). Effective systems recognise decision-making is improved if it is collaborative and will require the involvement of appropriate staff so that all useful information is available and any risks can be identified and managed.

Having confidence in decisions helps to build and maintain healthy relationships throughout early childhood services. This confidence is a significant factor in being successful, both for children and the sustainability of the service.

Ian Alchin
Services Development Manager, CCSA

Ian will be presenting his Decisions and responsibility – who does what, why, how and when? workshop at the EYE&PDT Forum. This workshop outlines how systems and processes can be developed to reduce risk and ensure effective decision making that responds well to the NQS.  The workshop supports Quality Areas 7&4 – Leadership and service management, and Staffing arrangement.