What to look for in a quality service
There are many early childhood education and care services available in Queensland, offering different services, hours and facilities. Services are rated under the National Quality Framework to improve programs and inform parents.
In Queensland, all children have access to quality and inclusive early childhood education. Queensland Government approved kindergarten programs can be delivered in a range of settings, from kindergarten, after school care, long day care services, family day care or online services (available to families in remote areas).
To help you know what to look for when finding a quality early childhood education service that’s right for your family, services are rated under the National Quality Framework (NQF). Established in 2012, the framework is in place to improve early education services and provide better educational and developmental outcomes for children. All services are required to meet the minimum legislative requirements outlined by the framework to ensure children’s safety, health and wellbeing.
Raising quality and care
All Australian services will be assessed and rated against the following seven key areas;
- educational program and practice
- children’s health and safety
- physical environment
- staffing arrangements
- relationships with children
- collaborative partnerships with families and communities
- leadership and service management.
When looking at a service, you should consider the service’s rating for each of the seven quality areas as well as its overall rating. Keep in mind that every service is different, so the way they meet the National Quality Rating will also be different.
You can ask your local service to discuss their ratings with you and learn how they are working to meet the National Quality Standards, including the educator-to-child ratio, skills and qualifications of educators. You can also view framework ratings for various services at the MyChild website.
Remember to ask if there is an opportunity for family and parents to be involved in your child’s service. For example, parents may be able to contribute to the development of the service’s Quality Improvement Plan which is designed to identify strengths and improvements it plans to make.
Does it have the ‘Kindy Tick’?
Enrolling your child in kindy in the year before school, look for kindergarten services and kindy programs that display the ‘kindy tick’. These services offer a program delivered by a qualified early childhood teacher, typically 15 hours per week, 40 weeks a year for children the year before school. Programs are aligned with the Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guideline or other Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority accredited learning program.
Education and Care Services Act
The Queensland Education and Care Services Act (2013) supports quality outcomes for children in services, regulating educator-to-child ratios, educator qualification requirements, learning frameworks, building codes and compliance, monitoring and enforcement.
Finding a service for you
Starting Blocks is another helpful tool, providing parents with information about early childhood education and care to help you choose a service that’s right for your family.
Look here to find some questions you can ask when considering a service for your child.