Child care providers across Australia have continuously excelled in quality areas that signal strong relationship building with children and families. More than a third of all centres have exceeded NQS ratings in the relevant areas: QA5 and QA6, with South Australian and ACT centres taking the lead. Well over half of all child care systems in these states have been able to provide collaborative learning processes, family support and community engagement for their customers.
On the whole, about 80% of child care services in Australia were rated ‘Meeting NQS or above’ (by overall rating and quality area) in the second quarter of 2020. One third were rated ‘Exceeding NQS or above’.
Centre-based services have fared well with the NQS assessment, while almost half of all family day care centres are still working to meet the national standards. Among centre-based, preschools and kindergartens have outperformed other services with almost two-thirds of these exceeding the requirements for at least four of the seven quality standards.
LDC sector picks up growth after Covid-inspired closures
55% of long day care centres across all of Australia were ‘Meeting overall NQS ratings’, in essence providing quality education and care in all seven quality areas.
A number of long day care providers had to close down in early Q2-20 but the rate dropped almost immediately towards the end of the quarter. Still then, the total number of center-based services recorded a 2% increase on Q2-19. This trend was probably expected and easily attributable to the current Covid situation. A closer look at performance in individual quality areas will better reveal how centres are coping with managerial or safety issues.
Centres may need support in planning and management systems
A more detailed NQS assessment of standards reveals quality areas that certain educators and care providers have failed to meet fall under QA1 and QA7. About 15% of caregivers have not met standards pertaining to assessment and program implementation for each child.
Management systems that optimize risk and enable smooth operations were also missed by 10% of child care centres. The gaps are more pronounced in West Australia, ACT and Tasmania where just under a quarter of all services are still working towards the aforementioned NQS standards.
A few other areas that may need improvements are relevant to the development of the right health practices and program learning opportunities. All in all, 47% of centres that are working towards NQS ratings mostly require advancements in at least 3-5 quality areas.
A range of solutions are available for child care centres when it comes to preparing for higher NQS ratings. Centres that are currently working towards NQS may consider using technology as a means of accelerating progress towards key quality areas and improving child care quality. Services including parent engagement and management platforms can help improve child educational opportunities and centre governance in the long run.