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Educator to child ratios – what to expect

Quality early education and care lays the foundation for development and learning.
Two of the main influences of quality are the qualifications of staff and ratios of qualified staff to children.

Higher numbers of staff to children allow qualified staff (also known as educators) to give more individual care and attention to your child, which helps them to develop better social and learning skills. Also, educators develop more effective and meaningful relationships with your child, to help make sure they are engaged, happy and relaxed.

We know the early years are a period of intensive brain development, building the brain from the ground up. Brains are built through back-and-forth interaction, much like a game of tennis or ping-pong. Healthy development occurs when young children ‘serve’ through babbling, gestures or words, and adults ‘return’ by getting in sync with the child and responding appropriately. This is an essential process that literally shapes the developing brain.

The interactions that occur, or don’t occur, have a significant and lasting effect on all the development and learning that follows. That’s why the ratio of educators to children is so important to ensure each child receives the attention they need to continue their development.

Educators to child ratios are part of the National Quality Framework (NQF) for Early Childhood Education and Care. The set ratios are based on evidence about how quality education and care benefits children.

For an educator to be counted in the ratios they must be working directly with children. This means they are physically present with the children and directly engaged in education and care of the children.


Supervision is also critical to the safety of children, and helps to protect children from harm or hazards that may arise in their play and daily routines. Adequate supervision means:

  • an educator can respond immediately, particularly when a child is distressed or in a hazardous situation
  • knowing where children are at all times and monitoring their activities actively and diligently.

If you have any questions about the requirements for your particular state or territory, please talk to your child’s service or contact your local regulatory authority.

For family day care services, the ratio is one educator for seven children, and there can be no more than four children who are under school age. Ratio includes the educator’s own children younger than 13 years of age if there is no other adult to care for them. 

Here is a breakdown of the national ratios for centre-based services, including long day care centres and preschools.

Children over 24 months and less than 36 months = 1 staff member to every 5 children

Applies in all states and territories, except for Victoria 1:4

Children birth to 24 months = 1 staff member to every 4 children

Applies in all states and territories

Children over 36 months, up to and including preschool age = 1 staff member to every 11 children

In all states and territories, except for:
1:10 NSW
1:10 TAS
(2:25 for children attending a preschool program)
1:10 WA

Children over preschool age = 1 staff member to every 15 children

In all states and territories, except for:
1:11 ACT
1:13 WA
(or 1:10 if kindergarten children are in attendance)

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