The Q3-20 snapshot indicates NQS ratings for long day cares have remained constant in most areas, with moderate spikes in selected quality areas. Overall, 55% of LDCs exceeded NQS ratings, up from 51% in Q3-19.
In South Australia and Tasmania, almost half of all long care centres exceeded NQS ratings in the third quarter of the ongoing year. This trend in departing quality education and care has been maintained since last year in Q3-19.
The greatest leap was observed in Northern Territory where 55% of LDCs are now meeting NQS requirements, as opposed to 48% last year. Similarly, a 4 and 5 percentage point increase in Southern Australian and Victorian centres respectively that fulfilled NQS criteria was noted in Q3-20, up from the same quarter in 2019.
Long day cares exceeded NQS ratings for child relationships
The quarterly report from ACECQA has been a valuable resource in informing child care centre managers and workers about opportunities in child learning and development.
The most notable places where long day cares exceed quality standards were quality areas 7 and 5. Long day child care providers have worked on building exceptional relationships with children, especially in times that required a refreshed sense of security. Governance and leadership measures have seen great improvement.
The most marked improvement has been in South Australia where, since last year, over 50% of all centres in SA exceeded NQS ratings for QA5 and QA6.
Potential for improvement in LDCs in educational program and implementation
Several indicators are helpful in identifying areas that need improvement by centres across specific states. For long day cares this year, most of the areas that needed work included planning cycles, documentation and implementation.
Quality area 1 relates to educational program development, and is by far, the leading indicator where childhood care centres are still lacking in all states. Over 20% of long day care centres are still working to meet NQS standards related to the development of effective learning frameworks that maximize child learning opportunities.
In the same quarter last year, 22% of services in ACT were working to meet quality standards in program assessment and implementation. In Q3-20, the figure has moved up two percentage points, and a third of long day cares and outside school hours care centres are now struggling in the same.
Quality standards around safety controls may need urgent action
Moreover, the outbreak of Covid-19 has certainly highlighted the need for better attention to health and safety protocols for children, as well as child care staff. This is reflected in quality area 2 pertaining to child health and safety, where 12% of long day care services are still working to meet all NQS standards in Q3-20.
Discussions about safe and profitable methods of imparting early childhood care and education will continue to take place. However, this time around, innovation will be at the centre of the creation process and new technologies will have a direct bearing on child care quality. 11% of long day care providers in NSW assessed for NQS did not meet the standards for effective management systems that enable the operation of a quality service.
The same is reflected in QA 2.1.2, which underscores crucial health practices and procedures that help centres adopt a safe approach for child learning activities. Most of this can be achieved by using automated management platforms and security protocols that enhance efficiency of centre processes. As the pandemic unfolds, we are all learning to cope with new challenges and will continue to develop ideas that further the goals of child early learning and care systems.