Rating Queensland Childcare Centres: What is it all about?
With the release of the latest government report on children’s education and care services, giving ratings for childcare centres and similar services based on the National Quality Framework, many of us are left wondering what the NQF actually is and what the ratings system is all about. Knowing the great value of quality early childhood care and education, and just how important it is to find the best service for your child, we aim to shed some light on what this ratings system is all about and let you know where to go to find out about your child’s current or potential service providers.
What is the National Quality Framework?
The National Quality Framework was established in 2012, and is undertaken by all Australian governments with the aim of ensuring Australian children get the best possible start in life through setting a consistent, high quality standard for services such as long day care, family day care, preschool/kindergarten and outside schools hours care. By setting National Quality Standards, rating services based on these standards, and providing analysis and information on the state of the sector, the NQF aims to raise quality and drive continuous improvement.
How does the ratings system work?
In order to rate children’s early education and care services, they are assessed and given ratings in seven Quality Areas, which are:
- Educational programme and practice
- Children’s health and safety
- Physical environment
- Staffing arrangements
- Relationships with children
- Collaborative partnerships with families and communities
- Leadership and service management
The services are also given one of five possible overall rating levels, which are:
- Excellent Rating
- Exceeding National Quality Standard
- Meeting National Quality Standard
- Working Towards National Quality Standard
- Significant Improvement Required
How can I check the ratings of childcare centres and other services?
If you are facing the difficult task of choosing a children’s education or care service provider for your child, or if your child is already using such a service, you can check the rating of the service to see how it fairs in the areas listed above.
To find out the ratings of each service that has been assessed, you can search for the services here by the name of the centre http://ifp.mychild.gov.au/mvc/Search/Advanced and then click on the ‘Quality’ tab.
For insights into the state of the sector, trends and statistics, you can see the latest quarterly snapshots here http://acecqa.gov.au/national-quality-framework/national-quality-framework-snapshots.
What did the latest findings show?
Here is a summary of the findings for Queensland, taken from the latest snapshot (the full report can be read here).
And here are some overall findings for the whole sector (see here for the full snapshot).
What other things should we consider?
One key point of note is that of all the services assessed nationwide, only 6 were said to require significant improvement, the majority were almost there, and a considerable number just missed out.
There are also waivers for services with temporary issues and many services (just under half of all in Queensland) that have not yet been assessed. As per the NQF statement here, ‘When reviewing the quality rating information in the Snapshot, caution should still be taken when making comparisons between jurisdictions or making predictions about services yet to be rated. Some jurisdictions have rated a smaller number of services and the services rated may not be representative of all services.’
So while the ratings given may be insightful in some situations, we must bear in mind that there are many excellent services that have yet to be given any rating and could be sadly overlooked because of this. We must also acknowledge the amazing, difficult and vital work carried out by educators and service providers, and the extra strain that the paperwork and assessments for these ratings put on often already overworked and underpaid staff. While we all appreciate the efforts to standardise quality across the board and to arm parents with the details needed to make informed choices for their children, we must be careful to use this research wisely and not look at such figures in isolation of other factors and information.
For further information on the latest snapshot report, you can email [email protected] or telephone 1300 4 ACECQA (1300 422 327).