Child care centres have faced several challenges in the ongoing year and are preparing themselves for better ways to meet NQS ratings. Q3-20 shows promising data as we inch towards new processes in child learning and child care management.
Meeting and exceeding National Quality Standards
More than 80% of all childcare centres across Australia were rated ‘Meeting NQS or above’ in Q3 of 2020 (by overall rating and quality area). 30% were rated exceeding NQS in the majority of areas. Two-thirds of child care services rated ‘Working Towards NQS’ improved their overall quality rating at reassessment in the same period. In NSW and WA, where the largest proportion of long day care centres happen to be, centres have excelled in developing collaborative partnerships with families and communities (QA6).
Centre-based care providers currently occupy 50% of all child care service sub-types, and almost all have a quality rating as of quarter 3. Out of these, long day cares recorded a fast decline in the rate at which centre-based services shut down at the onset of Covid-19 in March-April 2020.
Identifying key progress areas for long day providers
Data also shows that there’s a lot of margin for improvement and that early learning and care centres have made significant progress towards gaining higher NQS ratings. In quarter 3, 14% of services that were working towards NQS were observed to exceed ratings in all quality areas of NQS after reassessment. With an improvement rate of 65%, these centres are rapidly improving child care processes and execution.
However, 18% of long day care centres are still working towards meeting NQS ratings. Out of these, close to half of the centres were still making progress in 3-5 key quality areas. Existing long day care providers would find it helpful to review areas where most centres are making upgrades. Advancement in the use and application of technology in key quality areas can assist in streamlining processes and securing better NQS ratings in the long run.
The main areas of improvement for centres happen to fall under educational program and practice, followed by governance and child safety. In this respect, it will be imperative to observe drastic changes in how education is imparted in the post-pandemic era. Child care services will benefit from more innovative practices in child learning and development, including creating routines that are both safe and valuable.
Other areas that require attention include assessment and planning cycles, as well as management systems. About 10% of all centres have failed to meet these components of quality child care under the 2018 NQS. In this case, the processes that assist in child learning and development are crucial in determining success during assessments.
Inching towards quality care and high NQS ratings
Additionally, the documentation and planning that goes into making the journey successful for each child and centre have a direct bearing on NQS ratings and reassessments. Several centres were unable to meet elements regarding the systems that support quality service management. This entails maintenance of administrative and child records, as well as documented procedures that contribute to the smooth running of the child care centre.
A significant component of quality child care depends on platforms that help families make informed decisions when choosing education and care service for their child. This also means engaging families in the assessment and rating process by actively incorporating feedback into system upgrades.
By taking stock of the new situation, as well as best practices in child care management, centres can come up with a workable approach towards improving NQS ratings. Better process efficiency and innovative child learning tools can help these accelerate efforts.