WHEN it comes to having confidence in your chosen child care provider, ensuring they adhere to the National Quality Framework (NQF) can quickly put your mind at ease.
The NQF provides a national approach to regulation, assessment and quality improvement and setting a high benchmark for early childhood education and care and outside school hours care services in Australia.
The National Quality Standard (NQS) includes seven quality areas that are important outcomes for children which includes educational program and practice, children's health and safety, staffing qualifications, collaborative partnerships with parents and respectful relationships with children, and effective leadership.
Services are assessed and rated by their regulatory authority against the NQS, and given a rating for each of the seven quality areas and an overall rating based on these results.
The overall rating must be displayed at the service at all times with the highest rating being 'Excellent' where the service has been shown to promote exceptional education and care, demonstrates sector leadership and is committed to continually improving.
The lowest rating of 'Significant Improvement Required' means the service has not met any of the seven quality areas or a section of the legislation and there is an significant risk to the safety, health and wellbeing of children.
In such cases, the regulatory authority will take immediate action.
Research shows quality education and care early in life leads to better health, education and employment outcomes later in life.
The early years are critical for establishing self-esteem, resilience, healthy growth and capacity to learn.
Quality education and care shapes every child's future because it lays the foundation for their development and learning.
The major benefits for parents and children include:
- improved educator to child ratios, ensuring children have greater individual care and attention for children
- educators with increased skills and qualifications
- better support for children's learning and development through approved learning frameworks
- consistent, transparent information on educators, providers and services in the national registers.
Anyone seeking to engage with their child's early education at home can also head to the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) 'Starting Blocks' website (startingblocks.gov.au) which provides a wealth of information about early childhood education and care, all in one place.