Essential Guide to Choosing a Children’s Education and Care Service in Australia

Choosing the right children’s education and care service for your child and family is an important decision that can significantly impact your child’s growth and development. Early preparation is key, and can help you make the best choice.

Understanding Different Types of Services

Australia offers various early childhood education and care services, regulated under the National Quality Framework (NQF), that cater to diverse needs and preferences. These include:

  • Family day care
  • Long day care
  • Kindergarten/preschool
  • Outside school hours care

There are also other services, such as occasional care, In Home Care, crèches, mobile services, and some school holiday care programs. Although these are not regulated under the NQF, they are still regulated under state legislation. Consider your family’s needs, including the days and hours of care required. Many services have waiting lists, so early enrolment is recommended.

Service Quality Under the National Quality Framework and National Quality Standard

To ensure the safety and welfare of children, approved services across Australia must meet the high standards set by the National Quality Standard (NQS). These services undergo an evaluation process and receive NQS quality ratings, helping families identify the best service for their needs.

Services are rated against seven NQS quality areas:

  1. Educational program and practice
  2. Children’s health and safety
  3. Physical environment
  4. Staffing arrangements
  5. Relationships with children
  6. Collaborative partnerships with families and communities
  7. Governance and leadership

Each service is assigned a rating in each of the seven NQS quality areas and receives an overall rating. The ratings are:

  • Significant Improvement Required
  • Working Towards NQS
  • Meeting NQS
  • Exceeding NQS
  • Excellent

An ‘Excellent’ rating represents the pinnacle of quality under the NQF, and can only be achieved by services that exceed the NQS in all seven quality areas.

Finding a Quality Children’s Education and Care Service

Identifying a high-quality service is a significant step towards fostering better health, education, and employment outcomes for your child in the future. The Find Child Care tool can be invaluable in your search, enabling you to locate children’s education and care services and their NQS quality ratings in your area.

Asking the Right Questions

When visiting potential services, prepare a list of pertinent questions to ask, such as:

  • What are your operating hours?
  • Can I visit my child or call them anytime?
  • What is the staff-to-children ratio?
  • What qualifications do the staff have?
  • Has your service been NQS quality rated, and what is the rating?

For a comprehensive list of questions and what to look for when visiting a service, refer to this resource.

Choosing the right service for your child can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Start preparing early, understand the different types of services and quality ratings to simplify the process. Remember, quality early education and care can significantly benefit your child’s growth and development. For more guidance, visit to find your nearest services and their quality ratings, and access a wealth of resources that can help you make an informed choice.

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