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Your first step into early childhood education & care

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 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 National Quality Framework includes legal requirements that all services must comply with.
These include requirements for:

  • 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 services are included?

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

National Quality Standard

The National Quality Framework sets a higher national quality standard to encourage services to continue to improve their programs and practices.

Services are assessed and rated against seven quality areas of the National Quality Standard:


 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


To know more about these quality areas, and how they impact your child and quality of education and care, read our factsheet on understanding the NQS for early childhood education and care services

How do services get a quality rating?

Assessors will visit each service to rate it against the seven quality areas of the National Quality Standard.

The quality areas are made up of standards and elements that describe what research shows are the most important parts of a quality early education and care service.

Services receive a rating for each of the quality areas and an overall rating based on these results.

Services must display their ratings.

How are most services rated?

The services will 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 be rated Excellent. If a service is assessed and there are serious compliance issues, it is rated Significant Improvement Required. In this situation, the regulator uses penalties to make sure the service improves, or otherwise will stop the service from operating.

What do the ratings mean?

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 ratings with the service provider to learn how they are working to meet the National Quality Standard, even if your service has not yet been rated.

For service ratings visit:


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