On 1 January 2012, the National Quality Framework will be established and will apply to most long day care, family day care, preschool (or kindergarten) and outside schools hours care services.
National Quality Framework
The National Quality Framework aims to raise quality and drive continuous improvement and consistency in education and care services through:
- a national legislative framework
- a National Quality Standard
- a national quality rating and assessment process
- a new national body called the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority.
The National Quality Framework will take effect on 1 January 2012 with key requirements being phased in overtime. Requirements such as qualification, educator-to-child ratios and other key staffing arrangements will be phased in between 2012 and 2020.
National legislative framework
The national legislative framework is established through an applied laws system and consists of:
- the Education and Care Services National Law
- the Education and Care Services National Regulations.
It creates a jointly governed uniform national approach to the regulation and quality assessment of education and care services and replaces existing separate licensing and quality assurance processes. For many services this integrated approach means less red tape.
A Regulatory Authority in each state and territory will be primarily responsible for administering the National Quality Framework, including approving, monitoring and quality assessing services. It will be the first point of contact for services.
A new national body—the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority—will oversee the National Quality Framework and ensure the consistent and effective implementation of the new system.
National Quality Standard
The National Quality Standard sets a new national benchmark for the quality of education and care services. The National Quality Standard is divided into seven Quality Areas:
- Educational program and practice
- Children’s health and safety
- Physical environment
- Staffing arrangements
- Relationships with children
- Collaborative partnerships with families and communities
- Leadership and service management.
The National Quality Standard aims to promote:
- the safety, health and wellbeing of children
- a focus on achieving outcomes for children through high-quality educational programs
- families’ understanding of what distinguishes a quality service.
National quality rating and assessment process
Approved Services will be assessed and rated against each of the seven Quality Areas of the National Quality Standard and the National Regulations. They will also be given an overall rating. The rating and assessment process aims to drive continuous quality improvement at services and provide families with better information for making choices about their children’s education and care.
Assessments for existing services will commence from mid-2012.
The National Quality Framework will replace the National Childcare Accreditation Council.
Refer to The Assessment and Rating Process Information Sheet for further information.
Why do we need a National Quality Framework?
The National Quality Framework is an important reform which will deliver a higher standard of care for children in the critical areas of education, health and safety and will provide clearer and comprehensive information for families so they can choose the best services for their child.
We know that the first five years of a child’s life shapes their future – their health, learning and social development – and we want to make sure that their future is bright.
Early childhood experts and professionals maintain that quality is critical when it comes to early childhood education and care.
At the moment quality standards across early childhood education and care services vary across Australia and there is often limited information available to help families choose the best service for their children.
The National Quality Framework will require all providers to improve services in the areas that impact on a child’s development and safety and to provide families with quality information to help them make informed choices about services.
Progress on the National Quality Framework
An update on the progress of the National Quality Framework including the draft National Regulations is now available.
Upcoming National Information Sessions on the National Regulations
State and territory led information sessions will be held around Australia following the release of the National Regulations.
This schedule may be updated or changed. Please check this site prior to attending any information session to ensure that the session details have not been altered.
Further information on the National Quality Framework, including Information Sheets and sector support material is available on the ACECQA website.
State and territory specific Information Sheets on the NQF
- New South Wales Department of Education and Communities
- Victoria: Department of Education and Early Childhood Development
- Queensland: Office for Early Childhood Education and Care
- Western Australia: Department for Communities or Department of Education
- South Australia: Department of Education and Children's Services
- Tasmania: Department of Education
- Australian Capital Territory: Education and Training Directorate or Community Services Directorate
- Northern Territory: Department of Education and Training