If you are a fan of the English comedy show The Young Ones, the first word that may spring to mind is Bor-ring! While policies, and the procedures that flow from them, may not float everyone’s boat, they provide the strong bedrock to which you and your organisation can turn when things go pear-shaped. If all else fails – read the manual!
As with everything, there is a caveat to this. In many organisations policy is frequently written in isolation to the constitution, is often constructed with enough holes to drive a truck through, and the two P’s, policy and procedure, treated as one.
[cue Law & Order theme] ... these are two separate yet equally important groups ...
Policy and procedure should be viewed as critical elements of any organisation’s risk management strategy.
Why, you ask, are policies and procedures important for any organisation?
In recent years, legislation has been introduced that each childcare centre has a Safe Sleeping and Rest Policy. Not ensuring these regulations are met can have serious ramifications for a centre so, for those of you who are busily pulling together policy and procedure to meet your obligations, will have a fair idea!
Your stakeholders, while probably not clamouring at your door to read your P&P Manual, will nonetheless be comforted to know that such a document is firmly ensconced as part of your modus operandi and in some instances, e.g. when leaving their child in your care, want to be assured that there are safeguards to ensure they are cared for according to well-practised guidelines.
A well-written policy should provide solid parameters that clearly articulate that your organisation will adhere to its ethos, purpose, any laws of the land, and importantly, your constitution. It should also ensure that the beneficiaries of your hard work are provided the greatest possible advantage. In a policy, there should be no ‘wriggle room’ – there should be no ambiguity, no opportunity for misinterpretation of your aims. Whoever reads it should know exactly what is expected.
It follows, then, that an equally well-drafted procedure will provide you with the guidance to implement that policy. It will inform any process that you need to employ and assist with the development of forms and other documentation and, especially for those in childcare, underpin best practice.
Further to this, a fundamental, but often overlooked, tenet for successfully introducing policies is consultation. Consultation greases the wheels of implementation – it ensures the nuances of how your organisation operates are recognised and facilitates buy-in from those who do the work. It also offers stakeholders, including families, the opportunity to be involved in, and therefore understand why, development of policies is integral to your organisation’s day-to-day operations.
In a broader sense, having policy and procedure laid down loudly and clearly provides an organisation with a protective cloak which covers every aspect of its operation – whether it is as critical as adhering to well-researched safe sleeping guidelines, how you would deal with a bullying complaint [think Brodie’s Law] or what you would do if the HazMat team needs to be called in.
While P&P might not be the fun end of running a business, they can be viewed as the security blanket that will underpin how your stakeholders, and the community, view you.
Those two little Ps are mighty potent – policy and procedure empower, inform and protect.
To learn how to develop well-constructed policy and procedures, come along to our “From Regulation to Our Practice – developing a health Safe Sleeping policy and implementing best practice” Workshop.
 ACEQCA, 2017 Safe sleep and rest practices from October 2017, Jun 2017: retrieved from http://www.acecqa.gov.au/safe-sleep-and-rest-practices