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National Quality Framework - how can it help me?

Fact: Research shows quality early education and care leads to better health, education and employment outcomes later in life.

National Quality Framework

The National Quality Framework (NQF) aims to improve the quality of early childhood education and care services in Australia.

Providing children with quality experiences early in life can lead to better health, education and employment outcomes, building a productive and fair Australia.

The NQF includes legal requirements that all services must comply with, including:

  • the number of staff and their qualifications
  • ensuring children’s health and safety
  • service space and layout
  • the quality of developmental and learning experiences for children.

What types of services are operating under the NQF?

  • Long day care
  • Family day care
  • Preschool/kindergarten (apart from Tasmania and WA)
  • Outside school hours care.

National Quality Standard

The NQF sets a high National Quality Standard (NQS) to encourage services to continually improve their programs and practices.

Services are assessed and rated against the seven quality areas of the NQS:


 Educational program and practice

 Your child is supported to participate in play and learning

 Children’s health and safety

 Your child is protected from illness and hazards

 Physical environment

 Your child plays in a safe and well maintained environment

 Staffing arrangements

 There are enough qualified staff to give your child the attention they need

 Relationships with children

 Your child is made to feel supported and welcomed

 Collaborative partnerships with families and communities

 Local community involvement and respect for the beliefs and values of families

 Governance and leadership

 Your child is cared for in a positive and well managed environment


 Our factsheet on understanding the NQS for early childhood education and care services shares more information on these quality areas.

How do services get a quality rating?

State/territory regulatory authorities assess and rate services against the seven quality areas of the NQS.

Services receive a rating for each of the seven NQS quality areas and an overall rating.

Services must display their ratings.

 Services receive one of the following ratings:

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

Excellent National Quality Standard rating logoExceeding National Quality Standard rating logoMeeting National Quality Standard rating logo

Working towards National Quality Standard rating logoSignificant Improvement Required rating logo

Services rated Exceeding in all 7 quality areas may apply to ACECQA to be awarded the Excellent rating.

If a service is assessed and there are serious compliance issues it is rated Significant Improvement Required. The regulatory authority uses penalties to make sure the service improves or stops the service from operating.

What do the quality ratings mean?

Our national quality system sets a high bar for services: they need to be providing quality education and care in all quality areas to be rated Meeting the NQS.

The NQS quality ratings can help you choose a service for your child. It is important to look at the rating for each of the seven quality areas as well as the overall rating.

You can also discuss quality ratings with the service provider to learn how they are working to meet the NQS can help you find services and their quality ratings, fees, vacancies and inclusions.

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