The Australian Children’s Education and Quality Care Authority is the body that ensures every daycare centre is following the set national standard. They make hundreds of annual inspections every year and give out ratings based on what they see during these visits. Their website is a one-stop-shop of official materials that centre owners and carers should get familiar with if they want an excellent rating.
There’s different Acts in effect state-by-state, except in Western Australia. This page gathers them all in one place for centre owners to review.
The National Law exists so there’s one set standard for early childhood education across the country. Once a daycare centre, after school care, or early childhood education centre registers itself, they’re under obligation to make themselves familiar with the National Quality Standard.
7 quality areas with 2 to 3 standards in each area equals 18 standards all together. The NQS sets the bar on the standards daycare centres need to meet in order to receive an ‘excellent’ rating.
The 7 quality areas are:
- Educational Program and Practice
- Children’s Health and Safety
- Physical Environment
- Staffing Arrangements
- Relationships with Children
- Collaborative Partnerships with Parents and Community
- Leadership and Service Management
The administrators who do the assessment look at these seven areas and mark the centre’s practices against their highest standard.
The assessment and rating process is outlined comprehensively in the link above. But any experienced daycare centre owner will tell you that the process isn’t short. It’s an 8 week undertaking before the visit takes place, and an additional 5-7 weeks after that for the report to arrive. The centre owners are encouraged to provide feedback and point out any perceived inaccuracies.
Providers will receive a four week notice when it’s their time for inspection and must submit a Quality Improvement Plan in that time. After that, they’ll get a five-days notice of the visit (though this varies). Business should carry on as normal on inspection day so the assessor can get an accurate picture of life at the centre.
A QIP is a self-assessment. Not everyone’s strong point but it’s a necessary step to getting the rating you deserve.
The self-assessment covers the business areas of your daycare, including staffing arrangements and how the children are grouped (if at all). There’s also a section to write about your centre’s philosophy. After that, there’s sections to complete on the 7 quality areas, how the daycare centre is meeting them and how they can be improved.
This page condenses important information found throughout the site, putting them into bite-sized PDFs for service providers to review.
There’s forms for service and provider approval alongside National Quality Framework guides. Information about the assessment and rating process is also here.
This rating is the top-tier; a level service providers and educators should aspire too. The following criteria has to be met to get this award:
- The service exemplifies and promotes exceptional education and care that improves outcomes for children and families
- The service demonstrates leadership that contributes to the development of a community, a local area, or the wider education and care sector
- The service demonstrates commitment to sustained excellent practice through continuous improvement and comprehensive forward planning