Close to a quarter of all LDCs assessed in Q4-20 were Exceeding NQS in Quality Areas 1, 2 and 7. Broadly, these refer to quality standards in educational program & practice, children’s health & safety, and governance & leadership, respectively.
The same areas were noted for improvement last year in Q4-19, with almost double the proportion of all services rated Working Towards NQS in QA1 (23%), 18% in QA2 and 10% in QA 7. Therefore, a marked improvement has been seen in addressing standards and maximising child learning opportunities under QA1, year-on-year. For the same areas, however, more than 10% are also rated “Working Towards NQS” in Q4-20.
State-wide performance has been exceptional for QA 5 (Relationships with children) and QA 6 (Collaborative partnerships with families and communities) with just 4% of LDCs identified as needing improvement. The only exception is ACT with over 10% centres rated Working Towards NQS for both quality areas. On the other hand, 100% percent of all LDCs were able to establish supportive relationships with families and communities (QA6) in Northern Territory.
Most Long Day Care services nation-wide were also noted as excelling Quality Area 4 (Staffing arrangements), enhancing child learning and development with organisation and continuity of educators.
10% services still do not meet criteria for assessment and planning
Element-level results for Q4-20 reveal gaps in program planning and information sharing with families. Under Quality Area 1.3, educators are required to take a planned approach towards program implementation and must reflect on each child’s learning and development. Key areas that need focus pertain to strong assessment and planning cycles that help track child progress through observation, analysis, documentation and critical reflection.
In ACT, 30% of LDCs need to work towards QA1, the highest across all states. 31% services need improvement in standard assessment and planning, and 27% in program and practice. These were also the quality areas for which close to a quarter of services in ACT were unable to meet NQS standards.
The best performing states are QLD and VIC with only 9% services working towards QA1 and 91% Meeting and Exceeding standards. Much like the national average, the three quality areas that most services need to improve for leading states including NSW are QA1, 2 and 7.
The next area for improvement falls under QA 7 (Governance and Leadership) where close to 8% LDcs need to develop management systems that manage risk and enable effective operation of a quality service.
Long Day Care numbers dominate childcare sector
At national level, Long Day Care (LDC) services increased by 4%, putting the total number of centre-based care services at 15,750, as of 31st December, 2020. The largest change in services was recorded in Western Australia at +6%, while Tasmania saw only 2% more LDCs than last year.
Half of all national services are LDC, 28% are Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) and 19% are Preschools/Kindergartens (PSK). Close to 60% of all care services in NSW, WA and TAS are also LDCs, with NSW housing the largest number at 3,288 long day cares.
93% of LDCs (7,589 in number) received a quality rating in Q4-20. Close to 84% of LDCs were Meeting NQS and beyond, with over 27% rated Exceeding NQS. 16% still needed to work on 1 or more quality areas identified under the National Quality Framework (NQF).
A closer look at provider manager type shows, more than 40% of LDCs that are private not for profit (community managed) and local government managed were rated Exceeding NQS in the last quarter of 2020.