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Your first step into early childhood education & care

Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Choosing an open child care service to meet your family’s needs

Choosing and getting ready to start at an early childhood education and care service can be an exciting and overwhelming time for you and your child, so the earlier you start preparing, the better.

Choosing an option that meets your needs

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, crèches, mobile services and some school holiday care programs are not regulated under the NQF, but may be regulated under other state legislation. If you’re not sure if a service is regulated or not, it’s best to ask the service.

Read our factsheet on types of child care  for more information.

Understanding quality

UAll the regulated 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 quality ratings to help families choose the best service for their child and family.

These ratings are for the services that are regulated under the NQF.

There are seven quality areas which services are rated against under the National Quality Standard:

  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

For each of the seven quality areas, most of the services will be rated either:

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

Services can also apply for an overall “Excellent” rating if they achieve Exceeding NQS in all seven quality areas.

Finding an open child care service

You can find currently open services near you and their quality ratings using our Find Child Care search.

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