The Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) has released its 25th National Quality Framework (NQF) Snapshot Report and there's good news - there has been a sustained improvement in the quality of approved education and care services across the nation.
The majority of approved services have achieved a 'Meeting National Quality Standard (NQS) or above' rating, so let's look at the rating system and see how quality is rising in the child care sector.
What are the different quality ratings for approved services?
Most education and care services in this country have a quality rating and this means they have been assessed against the seven quality areas of the National Quality Standard (NQS) and given an overall rating.
Services are assessed by their State or Territory regulatory authority and the NQS quality areas are:
- Educational program and practice
- Children's health and safety
- Physical environment
- Staffing arrangements
- Relationships with children
- Collaborative partnerships with families and communities
- Governance and leadership
Once they've been judged against the quality areas, services receive one of these NQS ratings:
|Excellent||This is the highest rating possible and shows that the service has rated 'Exceeding National Quality Standard' in all seven quality areas.
It is awarded by ACECQA and demonstrates that the service promotes exceptional education and care, sector leadership and is committed to continual improvement.
|Exceeding National Quality Standard||To achieve this rating, the service has gone beyond the requirements of the NQS in at least four of the seven quality areas, with at least two of them being quality areas 1, 5, 6 or 7.|
|Meeting National Quality Standard||This rating means that the service meets the NQS and provides quality care in all seven quality areas.|
|Working Towards National Quality Standard||This means that the service has room for improvement in one or more areas, but provides a safe education and care program.|
|Significant Improvement Required||This rating is cause for concern. The regulatory authority will take immediate action because 'there is a significant risk to the safety, health and wellbeing of children' and the service 'does not meet one of the seven quality areas or a section of the legislation'.|
|Provisional – Not Yet Assessed Under the National Quality Standard||This rating means that the service has not yet been assessed and they must display the Provisional rating on-site until they are.|
How did approved services rate in ACECQA’s 25th National Quality Framework Snapshot Report?
The majority of education and care services are providing quality care in all seven quality areas, and they've shown substantial improvement in recent years.
Of the 15,902 approved services in Australia, the Report found that 94 per cent have an NQF rating and 79 per cent have a quality rating of 'Meeting National Quality Standard (NQS) or above'.
ACECQA CEO Gabrielle Sinclair says, "The proportion of services rated Meeting NQS or above has risen markedly over the last six years, from 56% in 2013, to 69% in 2016, to 79% in 2019" and this bodes well for families using approved long day care, outside school hours care and family day care services, plus most preschools and kindergartens.
Ms Sinclair adds that, 'Many services have now been quality rated more than once. The results of these reassessments also show strong evidence of continuous improvement in service quality.'
How many very high-quality services are we seeing?
Although the NQS was revised in early 2018, making it harder for services to attain the 'Exceeding NQS' rating, 47 services have still been able to achieve the Exceeding rating in all seven quality areas of the NQS and go on to be rated 'Excellent' by ACECQA.
As mentioned above, this is the highest rating possible and to get a sense of what Excellent education and care looks like, you can read all about Clarendon Children's Centre – a South Melbourne service that has received the Excellent rating, not once, but twice.
How can you find quality child care?
As the report shows, there are quality education and care services all over Australia and our Child Care Search can connect you with them. Just choose the type of care you need, add your postcode, and we'll find a variety of services in your neighbourhood.
For the full ACECQA NQF Snapshot, click here.