Skip Navigation

Choosing a children's education and care service

Choosing and getting ready for a children's education and care service can be an exciting time for you and your child. So, the earlier you start preparing, the better and our Find Child Care tool is here to help.

Choosing the right service for your child and family

It's a good idea to start thinking about your options early, including the days and hours you might need.

There are various types of early childhood education and care services and most are regulated under the National Quality Framework (NQF) including:

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

Other services like occasional care, In Home Care, crèches, mobile services and some school holiday care programs are not regulated under the NQF. They may be regulated under other state legislation.Our factsheet on service types provides more information.

Many services have waiting lists so it could be a good idea to join a few.

Understanding service quality under the National Quality Framework (NQF) and National Quality Standard (NQS)

Approved services across Australia are required to meet high national standards to ensure your child is safe and is given opportunities for learning and development on a regular basis.  These services are given National Quality Standard (NQS) quality ratings to help families choose the best service for their child and family.

 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

Services are given a rating for each of the seven NQS quality areas and an overall rating based on these results.

Services may be rated

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

Services rated Exceeding NQS in all seven quality areas may choose to apply to ACECQA for the Excellent rating. The Excellent rating is the highest rating achievable under the NQF.

Finding a quality children's education and care service

You can use Find Child Care to search for children's education and care services and their NQS quality ratings.

Research shows quality early education and care leads to better health, education and employment outcomes later in life. So, it’s really important to support your child with quality experiences for their growth and development.

Asking the right questions

  • What hours do you operate?
  • What times can I drop off and pick up my child?
  • Do you close throughout the year and how long for?
  • Will I be able to visit my child or call them at any time?
  • Will I be charged fees for public holidays or when my child is not there?
  • Do you provide things like nappies and meals, or do I need to bring them from home?
  • What is the ratio of staff to children?
  • What skills, qualifications and experience do the staff have?  
  • Has your service been NQS quality rated and what is the rating?
  • What ages of children do you care for?
  • How will I know that my child’s learning and development will be encouraged?
  • What are your internal policies and procedures?
  • Will I be eligible for any subsidies or other financial assistance? 

The resource what to see and ask for at your service can help you learn more.

Read more: