Policies and procedures
Some playgroups have formal policies and procedures, and some don't
All playgroups will have some information and agreed processes that help guide what happens at playgroup and how the playgroup runs.
However, while formal policies and procedures can be helpful for playgroups, some playgroups won't need, or will choose not, to have these as formal parts of their playgroup operation.
Other playgroups may find that having formal policies and procedures is a helpful way of providing consistent information, ensuring that everyone knows what to do, and what is expected of them.
What is a policy?
A policy is a statement of the official position of an organisation or group. It establishes the key principles and provisions that guide decision-making processes.
Policies are simply a way of ensuring that playgroup families and management groups or committees know what is expected and how the playgroup operates.
Policies can be a great help, especially at challenging times when there may be differences between how families believe things should be done. Policies help to guide decision making as well as the day-to-day operations of playgroups.
Providing opportunities for all your members to be involved in developing and reviewing the policies will help develop a sense of shared ownership.
Putting a date on when policies are made, as well as a date for when you will review them, also helps to keep policies relevant and appropriate.
Remember to make your policies relevant and workable for your playgroup and keep them simple.
Developing playgroup policies
The following points are important to remember when developing policies:
- Give all members the opportunity to have input, particularly if the policy is likely to be contentious or cause conflict.
- Keep it brief and simple - keep the points to the minimum necessary to establish the actions required.
- Policies should be fair and non-discriminatory.
- Policies should reflect the needs and the wellbeing of the whole playgroup.
- Policies should be clear and easily understood by all members of the families.
- Policies need to be reviewed regularly to ensure that they continue to meet the needs of the playgroup and its families.
- Let families know where they can access policies.
A policy should include:
- Purpose – why is the policy required
- Scope – who does the policy apply to and in which circumstances
- Policy statement and principles and/or high-level principles
Have a look at our sample policy template.
Once the playgroup members have had an opportunity to give feedback on draft policies and they have been finalised, you can formalise the policy at a committee or playgroup meeting.
All playgroup families need to be informed about new policies, and new families will need to know about the existing playgroup policies when they join. To keep everybody informed, you might consider:
- including information about playgroup policies in an introduction kit/letter
- sending a copy of the policies by email to families, or provide information on where they can be accessed
- having a copy available at playgroup sessions
- using posters to remind families about important policies
- sending an annual update on policies.
It is important to make sure that what happens at playgroup is consistent with the playgroup policies. To be effective policies need to be implemented and referred to.
Each playgroup needs to decide what policies are necessary. The following types of policies may be relevant for your playgroup:
- Enrolment, waiting lists and attendance
- Fees and charges
- Health and safety
- Supervision of children
- Handling conflict/grievances
- Shared equipment
- Immunisation and infectious disease
- Snack time
- Privacy and confidentiality
- Food handling
- Social media
Procedures differ from policies in that they provide information about
- What is required
- Why it is required and
- How tasks should be undertaken.
Procedures are instructions on how to accomplish a task, such as setting up and packing away, locking up and collecting fees. Procedures identify the specific steps or processes that need to be followed and should be designed to create a comfortable, friendly and workable environment for playgroup families.
Procedures can be formal written documents or exist as informal practices. It is a good idea to ensure that everyone is familiar with the procedures including new families. Reviewing procedures on a regular basis (for example annually) will help ensure that they remain relevant and appropriate for your playgroup.
Each playgroup needs to decide what procedures are necessary. The following types of procedures may be relevant for your playgroup:
- Set-up and pack-away procedures
- Fee collection procedure
- Cleaning toys and equipment
- Cleaning the venue
- Purchasing playgroup items
- Key collection and return
- Communicating with the committee