National Quality Framework
Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority
The Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) is the national body jointly governed by the Australian Government and state and territory governments. ACECQA guides and oversees the implementation of the National Quality Framework (NQF). Its website (www.acecqa.gov.au) is the primary source of information on the NQF, and contains the Education and Care National Regulations and a range of supporting documentation for the sector
The National Quality Framework took effect on 1 January 2012 and applies to most long day care, family day care, preschool (or kindergarten) and outside schools hours care services.
The National Quality Framework aims to raise the quality of education and care across Australian services through the National Quality Standard. Other changes include improved educator to child ratios, new qualification requirements, and a national assessment and rating process.
These changes provide families with information on the quality of care to help them make informed choices about which service will best meet their needs.
National Quality Standard
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 programmes
- families' understanding of what distinguishes a quality service.
National quality rating and assessment process
Services covered by the National Quality Framework are assessed and rated against each of the seven Quality Areas of the National Quality Standard and the National Regulations. They are also given an overall rating.
Assessment and rating of services commenced in mid-2012, and the ratings of those services that have been assessed are available on the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority and MyChild websites.
There are five ratings under the new system that a service could get against each Quality Area, as well as the overall rating. The rating levels are:
- Exceeding National Quality Standard
- Meeting National Quality Standard
- Working Towards National Quality Standard
- Significant Improvement Required
Services can apply to the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority for an Excellent rating.
The National Quality Framework took effect on 1 January 2012, but the changes are being phased in gradually over a period of time.
One of the key changes under the National Quality Standard is the inclusion of nationally consistent educator-to-child ratios. These ratios commenced nationally for 0-2 year olds on 1 January 2012, and will gradually be implemented for other age groups before becoming fully operational on 1 January 2016.
On 1 January 2014, ratio changes for family day care services and qualification requirements for
centre-based services and family day care schemes will come into effect.