Early childhood educators play an important role in society. They lay the foundations for life-long learning among children and keep our little people safe, happy and entertained. So, it's important that every educator possess the skills and training required to nurture and develop young children to their full potential.
Here, we see what qualifications different educators need, and action parents can take if something seems amiss with an educator's credentials.
What types of early childhood education and care qualifications are there?
The National Quality Framework (NQF) sets out the minimum qualifications that various educators must possess to work in the early childhood sector.
There are specific qualification requirements for different roles and services, and the three types of early childhood qualifications are:
- Teacher level – a bachelor's degree or above
- Diploma level
- Certificate level
What qualifications are needed to work in centre-based services?
In centre-based services with preschool age children and younger, at least 50 per cent of the educators must hold, or be actively working towards, an approved diploma level education and care qualification (or higher), or its equivalent.
All other educators must have, or be in the process of getting, at least an approved Certificate III level education and care qualification.
Services must also ‘engage or have access to’ an Early Childhood Teacher (ECT) for a proportion of time, and the ECT must hold an approved early childhood teaching qualification, or equivalent early childhood teacher qualification.
The ECT may need to be registered or accredited, depending on which state and territory they work in.
As of 1 January 2020, approved providers of long day care services, preschools and kindergartens with 60 or more children being looked after, must have a second ECT or a ‘suitably qualified person’ available some of the time. This person can:
- Be actively working towards an approved early childhood teaching qualification and have completed at least 50 per cent of the qualification, or hold an approved diploma level qualification, or
- Be registered/accredited as a primary or secondary school teacher in Australia and have at least an ACECQA-approved diploma level qualification.
Once children go to school, there are no national qualification requirements for educators providing before and after school care and vacation care at centre-based services. To learn about state and territory qualification requirements for Outside School Hours Care services, click here.
What qualifications are required for family day care?
In South Australia, family day care educators must hold at least an approved Certificate III level education and care qualification.
However, in the rest of Australia, it's sufficient for a family day care educator to be enrolled in the course and be making good progress towards completing it. Alternatively, they can hold an approved Certificate III qualification, or a qualification that ACECQA says is equivalent to it, or one that was approved and completed before 1 January 2012.
Family day care coordinators must meet a higher standard and hold an approved diploma level education and care qualification.
What first aid qualifications must educators hold?
Part of an educator's job is keeping children healthy and safe, so the Education and Care Services National Regulations outline what qualifications educators need to deal with medical emergencies.
At all times, a centre-based service must have at least one staff member (or nominated supervisor) on duty with these current and approved qualifications:
- First aid qualification
- Anaphylaxis management training
- Emergency asthma management training
One person may hold all three qualifications, or the expertise may be split between staff members. They must be immediately available in an emergency.
In family day care, each educator and educator assistant must hold all three qualifications.
In terms of currency, first aid qualifications need to be renewed every three years and refresher training in CPR is required annually.
What concerns might parents have about an educator’s qualification?
Most educators are professional, knowledgeable and fully trained to look after children’s care and learning. However, if something seems amiss, it's definitely worth investigating.
For instance, you may suspect that an educator’s qualification is:
- Fraudulent, i.e. a fake or tampered with document
- Improperly awarded, i.e. the educator doesn’t have the skills and knowledge required
How can you check an educator’s qualifications?
If your educator's skills and training are raising alarm bells, then it's a good idea to outline your concerns with the centre director or family day care coordinator.
In the case of possibly fraudulent qualifications, you can also contact the educational institution that supposedly issued the qualification. They will be able to tell if the document lacks legitimacy.
When it comes to improperly awarded or cancelled qualifications, there is the option of making a complaint to the Australian Skills Quality Authority. And, depending on where you're based, you can also get in touch with the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority or the Western Australian Training Accreditation Council to report a suspicious qualification.
Saying that, the majority of educators do a fantastic job with our babies, toddlers and preschoolers, bringing hands-on experience and the required tertiary qualifications to play rooms.
You’re free to ask your centre director or family day care coordinator about educators’ credentials, and the government says, ‘Proper training helps to provide better outcomes for your child’s learning and development.’
For more information, visit ACECQA