Out of School Care and Recreation

Out of School Care and Recreation

The field of Out of School Care and Recreation provides forms of childcare to children whose school days do not coincide with the working hours of their parents or guardians: before/after school and/or during school holidays. Often based in or near schools, it provides supervision and recreational/educational facilities.

In New Zealand these programs are commonly known as "OSCAR" and in Australia they are known as OSHC (pronounced "OSH"). However in parts of Australia namely NSW and ACT these programs are generally referred to as "OOSH."

Most programmes have a community base; some operate as private profit-making ventures.

Increasingly Out of School Hours Care programs are seen as important vehicles for promoting healthy child development by engaging children in physical and creative activities and by linking children with other community organisations and clubs. However the important role of these programs is the development of children's life skills and supporting children to engage within their community.

In Australia Outside School Hours Care is part of the National Quality Assurance system which ensures that all services are engaged in continuous improvement. State and territory regulations exist for Out of School Hours Services in Qld, ACT, WA and Tas. NSW and Vic are currently in the process of moving toward regulation.


OSCAR Care Definition

OSCAR Care stands for Out of School Care and Recreation. It is often called After School Care. This definition is most commonly used in New Zealand for the sector of the childcare industry that caters for children aged 5 to 13 years of age. Predominately this type of childcare is delivered during before school hours, after school hours or during school holiday breaks. OSCAR services re not delivered by government departments, but rather individuals (sole traders), companies, non-profit groups (such as churches) and school-owned operations.


Many OSCAR services are established due to community demand. Many services seek certification as an approved provider of OSCAR services from Child Youth and Family (CYF), the government department tasked with developing, maintaining and enforcing standards in the OSCAR industry. Funding for OSCAR services or 'programmes' comes from three main sources; parent cash fees paid to the provider, Work & Income subsidies (the government social welfare department) and large grants from the Ministry of Social Development (MSD).

CYF Standards for Approved OSCAR Programmes

CYF consulted with OSCAR service providers, and other interested stakeholder, to develop the 11 standards (or rather standard 'areas') by which an OSCAR service is approved. Suitable policies and procedures must be in place to account for:

  • Programme environment
  • Programme operation
  • Health and Safety
  • Child Protection
  • Supervision
  • Emergencies
  • Staff
  • Buildings and Facilities
  • Recordkeeping
  • Finance
  • Camps (if delivered during holidays, though this often covers 24 hour or overnight, including sleeping arrangements)

While these 11 standards form the basis of approval, CYF is really looking for the right:

  • Systems
  • Venue
  • People

Recreation Focus

This sector does not provide education or curriculum delivery as OSCAR care is a recreation based service, by definition, and by delivery.

The OSCAR industry has a national body, the OSCAR Foundation. By contractual agreement, the OSCAR Foundation provides monitoring of the industry by providing advisers in some regions, delivering a yearly conference and ensuring government funded programmes are bring delivered by yearly visits.

With CYF approval, programmes can offer parents discounted fees due to subsidies from WINZ and may apply for yearly assistance funding from the MSD.

Support & Quality Control

In the two large regions of Canterbury and Auckland, local networks of OSCAR service providers have secured an agreement to receive funding directly, thus being able to employ their own OSCAR advisers. Whether employed by the national body (the OSCAR Foundation) or by regional networks (OSCN in Auckland and The Christchurch OSCAR Network in Canterbury) the advisers report on service delivery to the OSCAR Foundation. The Foundation then passes the information on programme delivery to the Ministry of Social Development.


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