What is the National Quality Framework for Child Care & Why Should Parents Care?
A recent count estimated there are over 15,417 child care centres in Australia. With such a large number of centres, quality of care can vary significantly.
Then there’s the question of what defines quality. For a parent, making an ‘apples and apples’ comparison can get tricky because who defines what a good educational program for pre-schoolers is?
Enter the National Quality Framework. The National Quality Framework (NQF) sets a high, national benchmark for all Australian children attending long day care, family day care, outside school hours care and preschool.
It is the framework all centres must be measured against and can be a great point of comparison when evaluating a centre for your child.
The NQF introduces legal requirements and a new quality standard to improve education and care across long day care, family day care, preschool/kindergarten, and outside school hours care services.
The major benefits for parents and children include:
- improved educator to child ratios in most services
- greater individual care and attention for children
- educators with increased skills and qualifications
- better support for children’s learning and development
- a ratings system to help parents assess the quality of education and care providers in their area.
What are the National Quality Framework Ratings?
The National Quality Standard comprises of seven quality areas that centres are measured against before they can be given a quality rating. These are explained in more detail below.
The ratings given are:
- Exceeding National Quality Standard
- Meeting National Quality Standard
- Working towards National Quality Standard
- Significant Improvement Required
For parents, understanding what rating a centre has is a great way to determine the quality of care their child will be receiving.
Kids Club Child Care has two centres with an Exceeding National Quality Standard Rating, located at Clarence St & Elizabeth St.
What areas does the National Quality Framework cover?
The National Quality Standard comprises of seven quality areas, 18 standards and 58 elements. These areas are (source):
- Educational Program and Practice
This quality area focuses on ensuring the educational program and practice is stimulating, engaging and enhances children’s learning and development.
- Children’s health and Safety
The approved provider and other persons have responsibility for supporting the health, protection, safety and wellbeing of all children.
- Physical environment
The approved provider of an education and care service must ensure that the premises, all equipment and furniture used in providing education and care services are safe, clean and in good repair to provide a rich and diverse range of experiences that promote children’s learning and development.
- Staffing arrangements
This area looks at the appropriate staff numbers and deployment of suitable qualified and experienced educators, co-ordinators and nominated supervisors who are able to develop warm, respectful relationships with children. This is to help create safe and predictable environments and encourage children’s active engagement in the learning program.
- Relationships with children
This area looks at taking reasonable steps to ensure that children being educated and cared for by the service are provided with opportunities to interact and develop respectful and positive relationships with each other and with the staff members.
- Collaborative partnerships with families and communities
Working with parents is key in achieving educational and developmental outcomes for children. Local community partnerships are also an important part of this process. Effective collaboration established by the service is fundamental to achieving quality outcomes for children and community partnerships.
- Leadership and service management
As in any organisation, the culture embodied by an organisation flows from effective leadership and management. A positive organisational culture is even more important when you consider the most important stakeholders affected: children. The effective leadership and management of a service that creates a positive organisation culture in empowering others by listening, recognising and addressing potential conflict and change process that contributes to quality environments for the children’s learning and development.
Please note this article is a summary of the National Quality Standard and Framework. For more information, please visit the complete resources on the mychild.gov.au website.