From today, parents can find out online how their local child care centre is rated against new national standards that raise the bar and ensure services undergo continuous improvement.
Early Childhood and Child Care Minister Kate Ellis today announced the first National Quality Standard ratings for child care centres were now published on the Australian Government’s MyChild website.
Ms Ellis said their publication was a key part of the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care agreed to and delivered jointly by the Australian and State and Territory Governments.
“Parents deserve to have the peace of mind knowing the place where they drop off the young children before they go to work is a good, reliable, safe and learning environment,” she said.
“This information helps families make decisions about their children’s education and care, based on what is important for them.”
Ms Ellis said ratings published today covered about 15 per cent of the total 12,888 approved child care services in Australia with a significant roll-out over the next year.
“We’re lifting the quality of early childhood education and care and all approved services will be rated against these new standards by state agencies,” she said.
“Parents can now go to the MyChild website and search for services in their area – and along with information on the location, fees and vacancies of services, they will now be able to see the quality ratings of child care services that have been assessed against the National Quality Standard.
“These ratings are also to be displayed at the centre.”
Services receive a rating for each of seven areas under the National Quality Standard and an overall rating is determined based on the quality area outcomes.
The five rating levels in the assessment and rating process are:
- Excellent (Awarded by Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority)
- Exceeding National Quality Standard
- Meeting National Quality Standard
- Working Towards National Quality Standard
- Significant Improvement Required
Ms Ellis said an overall rating of ‘Working Towards National Quality Standard’ did not mean a sudden drop in a service’s performance.
“It simply means it’s now assessed against a new and more challenging scale,” she said.
“To get ‘Working Towards National Quality Framework’, a service must meet a set of robust legal requirements to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of children and provides a safe learning environment but do not meet the standard across all areas.
“They could be rated as meeting or exceeding in six of the seven areas but miss out on one – they will then receive an overall rating equivalent to their lowest area rating.
“These changes are important but they won’t happen overnight. It’s about ensuring better care for Australian children.
“The Australian Government is backing the National Quality Framework with a record investment of $23.2 billion in early childhood education and care.”
Ms Ellis said Tony Abbott had committed to scrapping the ratings system if elected, leaving parents in the dark about whether services are meeting standards.
Ratings of services that have completed the assessment and ratings process can be found at www.mychild.gov.au