Principles for high quality playgroups: Examples from research and practice

CFCA Practitioner Resource – September 2017

Playgroups have organisational-level support and governance

Support individual playgroups with an adequately resourced organisation that provides oversight and assistance (e.g., in the establishment of new groups, recommending activities, venue hire, insurance, and resolving issues).

High-quality playgroups are provided with some organisational-level support and governance, either through their host organisation or their state or territory playgroup association. Playgroups are funded through multiple channels, including federal, state and local levels of government, not-for-profit organisations and churches, and although the organisational support will vary based on the group providing it and the funding requirements, all high-quality playgroups have some organisational level support and governance and comply with any state-based legislative and compliance requirements.

Community playgroups are generally carer-operated and self-managed, funded through the collection of fees from families attending, and supported by their local state or territory playgroup association and Playgroup Australia. State and territory playgroup associations provide guidance on starting a new playgroup, joining an existing playgroup and running a playgroup.

Although levels of support vary based on local sate and territory funding and resources, high-quality playgroup associations provide co-ordinators of playgroups with some, or all of, the following:

  • access to a playgroup manual;
  • tools (such as forms, signs, policies or reports);
  • assistance to find suitable venues and negotiate a lease;
  • promotional material to attract new members;
  • training and support to playgroup committees;
  • playgroup starter kits, including toys and resources; and
  • ideas for play activities and playgroup structure (Playgroup NSW, 2015).

Supported playgroups have organisational support from their host organisation, although this varies depending on funding. For example, those funded by the Department of Social Services through Communities for Children Facilitating Partner Grants are provided with organisational-level support and governance through their facilitating partner. This can take the form of documents describing the playgroup model practices and procedures, or a framework of practice.

Currently, in most states and territories, carers attending community playgroups are not required to undergo police or working with children checks. However, as this legislation is state-based, there is variance across Australia and there are some exceptions:

  • South Australia, where co-ordinators, committee members and volunteers without children attending are required to have relevant state-based history clearances. More information.
  • The Northern Territory, where some venues, such as schools, require parent co-ordinators to complete a police check.

Playgroups must follow any relevant legislation applicable to playgroups and keep up to date with any changes. For supported playgroups, staff are required to have undergone a working with children check and police check. Legislation for volunteers assisting at a playgroup, i.e., volunteering without their children present, may also vary locally. Playgroups should regularly check the legislative requirements for their state or territory and/or contact their local state or territory playgroup association for further information.