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Report on Government Services 2021

PART B, SECTION 3: RELEASED ON 2 FEBRUARY 2021

3 Early childhood education and care

This section is presented in a new online format. Dynamic data visualisations replace the static chapter format used in previous editions. Machine readable data are also available for download. A guide is available on accessing information in the new format.

Impact of COVID-19 on data for the Early childhood education and care services section

COVID-19 may affect data in this report in a number of ways. This includes in respect of actual performance (that is, the impact of COVID-19 on service delivery in 2020 which is reflected in the data results), and the collection and processing of data (that is, the ability of data providers to undertake data collection and process results for inclusion in the report).

For the Early childhood education and care services section, there are no significant changes to the data as a result of COVID-19. The most recent data collected were prior to COVID restrictions with the exception of data on NQF quality and compliance, serious incidents and expenditure on ECEC services.

This section reports on the performance of early childhood education and care (ECEC) services, which comprise child care and preschool services.

The Indicator Results tab uses data from the data tables to provide information on the performance for each indicator in the Indicator Framework. The same data are also available in CSV format.

Skip to downloadable ECEC services data tables and supporting material

  • Context
  • Indicator Framework
  • Indicator Results
  • Indigenous Data

Objectives for ECEC services

ECEC services aim to meet the education, care and development needs of children, and meet the needs of families including enabling increased workforce participation, by providing universal access to early childhood education services for eligible children and accessible child care services that:

  • are high quality, affordable, flexible and can be implemented across a range of settings
  • are delivered in a safe, nurturing and inclusive environment
  • target improved access for, and participation by, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, vulnerable and disadvantaged children.

Governments aim for ECEC services to meet these objectives in an equitable and efficient manner.

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Service overview

The ECEC sector provides a range of services for children based on their age and education, care and development needs. ECEC services provide the following broad service types:

  • Child care services — provide education and care services to children aged 0–12 years including the following service types: centre based day care; family day care; outside school hours care (OSHC); and other care (see sub‑section 3.2 for definitions).
  • Preschool services — are services that deliver a preschool program. A ‘preschool program’ is a structured, play‑based learning program, delivered by a qualified teacher, aimed at children in the year or two before they commence full time schooling (table 3.1).
Table 3.1 Preschool programs in Australia, 2019-20
 Preschool programTransition to primary school
Foundation year (Year prior to year 1)
State/TerritoryProgram nameAge of entry — preschool program in year before full time schooling (YBFS)School yearAge of entry
NSW Preschool Generally aged 4 and 5 Kindergarten 5 by 31 July
Vic Kindergarten 4 by 30 April Preparatory (Prep) 5 by 30 April
Qld Kindergarten 4 by 30 June Preparatory (Prep) 5 by 30 June
WA Kindergarten 4 by 30 June Pre Primary 5 by 30 June
SA Preschool 4 by 1 May Reception 5 by 1 May
Tas Kindergarten 4 by 1 January Preparatory 5 by 1 January
ACT Preschool 4 by 30 April Kindergarten 5 by 30 April
NT Preschool 4 by 30 June Transition 5 by 30 June
Source: State and Territory governments (unpublished).

An ECEC service may offer more than one service type, such as centre based day care and OSHC (both child care services). The most common type of integrated service is a preschool program delivered within centre based day care. The range of service types offered differs across states and territories and between service providers.

ECEC services can also provide other non-education services such as maternal and child health services and family support services. The services provided differ according to community need, with more extensive services often being provided in disadvantaged communities.

Roles and responsibilities

The Australian, State and Territory governments have different but complementary roles in ECEC. In 2019-20, the Australian Government’s main roles and responsibilities included:

  • paying the Child Care Subsidy (CCS)1 which is generally paid directly to child care providers. The types of child care for which families receive subsidised care are in table 3.2
  • providing funding to State and Territory governments to support the achievement of universal access to early childhood education, through the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education (NP UAECE)
  • providing operational and capital funding to some providers.
Table 3.2 Summary of ECEC service funding by Australian, State and Territory governments, 2019-20
 NSWVicQldWASATas aACT bNT cAus Gov
Funded child care services, for service types:
Centre based day carecheckcheckcheckcheckcheckcheck checkcheck
OSHCcheck checkcheck check  check
Family day care   check   checkcheck
In home care        check
Funded preschool services/programs, in:
Local government/community preschoolscheckcheckcheckcheck   check 
For-profit centre based day carecheckcheckcheck    check 
Not-for-profit centre based day carecheckcheckcheck check checkcheck 
Government schoolcheckcheckcheckcheckcheckcheckcheckcheck 
Non-government schoolcheckcheckcheckcheckcheckcheck check 
check Government provides funding to at least one of these services
  Government does not provide funding to any of these services
a In Tasmania, some child care services may receive funding under an annual, small capital grants (minor infrastructure)  program.  These services  are not  included  in this table unless they  also receive recurrent funding. b In the ACT, child care services and preschool services outside the government sector may receive support through capital grants, rental subsidies, and funding through budget initiatives. These services are not included in this table unless they also receive recurrent funding. c The NT Government also provide funding to 3-year-old kindergarten services.

Source: Australian, State and Territory governments (unpublished).

State and Territory governments’ roles and responsibilities vary across jurisdictions but mainly include:

  • funding and/or providing preschool services and, in some cases, providing funding to child care services (including some that also receive Australian Government funding)
  • providing funding to support the implementation of the NP UAECE
  • regulating approved services under the National Quality Framework (NQF) and licensing and/or registering child care services not approved under the NQF
  • implementing strategies to improve the quality of ECEC programs
  • providing curriculum, information, support, advice, and training and development to ECEC providers.

Local governments also plan, fund and deliver ECEC, but due to data limitations, the only local government data included in this section are those involving Australian, State and Territory government funding and/or licensing.

  1. The CCS replaced the Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate from 2 July 2018. The Child Care Subsidy System (CCSS) has been introduced to manage the payment and administration of the CCS and is the source of these data. There are some changes to reporting under the CCSS. In particular, the introduction of new categories Centre based day care (a consolidation of long day care and occasional care previously reported separately) and Outside school hours care (a consolidation of outside school hours care and vacation care previously reported separately) and no longer separately identifying Budget based funded services. Locate Footnote 1 above

Funding

Total Australian, State and Territory real government recurrent and capital expenditure on ECEC services was $10.6 billion in 2019-20, up from 2018-19 and 2017-18 (table 3A.4). Australian Government expenditure accounted for $8.5 billion (80.5 per cent) and State and Territory government expenditure $2.1 billion, with preschool services accounting for 85.4 per cent of the State and Territory government expenditure (figure 3.1).

Australian Government expenditure of $433.2 million allocated to State and Territory governments in 2019-20 through the NP UAECE (table 3A.7), is included under State and Territory government expenditure.

Size and scope

Services delivering ECEC

In 20202, there were 13 370 Australian Government CCS approved child care services in Australia (table 3.3). Some child care services do not receive Australian Government funding and are funded by State and Territory governments only or do not receive any government funding.

In 2019 there were 11 990 ECEC services in Australia delivering preschool programs (table 3.4). Of these services, 7727 (64.4 per cent) were delivered from centre based day care and the remainder were delivered from stand-alone preschool services or preschool services attached to a school.

Children using ECEC

In 20203, 1 317 072 (31.7 per cent of) children aged 0–12 years attended Australian Government CCS approved child care services, an increase of 1.0 per cent from 2019 (table 3A.14).

In 2019, 539 374 children were enrolled in a preschool program, which includes children attending a 3 year old preschool program (table 3A.18)4. Of these children, 290 168 were enrolled in a preschool program in the year before full time schooling (YBFS) (table 3A.17). The total enrolment figure provides an estimate of service activity, whilst the state specific YBFS enrolment figure provides an estimate of the cohort for whom the year of preschool is in the year before they are anticipated to attend full time school.

  1. Data for 2020 related to Australian Government CCS approved child care services are for the March quarter. Locate Footnote 2 above
  2. Data for 2020 related to Australian Government CCS approved child care services are for the March quarter. Locate Footnote 3 above
  3. Data reported for 3 year olds enrolled in a preschool program may be incomplete due to different reporting arrangements in each jurisdiction. Locate Footnote 4 above

The performance indicator framework provides information on equity, efficiency and effectiveness, and distinguishes the outputs and outcomes of ECEC services.

The performance indicator framework shows which data are complete and comparable in this Report. For data that are not considered directly comparable, text includes relevant caveats and supporting commentary. Section 1 discusses data comparability and completeness from a Report-wide perspective. In addition to the service area's Profile information, the Report’s statistical context (Section 2) contains data that may assist in interpreting the performance indicators presented in this section.

Improvements to performance reporting for ECEC services are ongoing and include identifying data sources to fill gaps in reporting for performance indicators and measures, and improving the comparability and completeness of data.

Outputs

Outputs are the services delivered (while outcomes are the impact of these services on the status of an individual or group) (see section 1). Output information is also critical for equitable, efficient and effective management of government services.

Outcomes

Outcomes are the impact of services on the status of an individual or group (see section 1).

Indicator framework

An overview of the ECEC services performance indicator results is presented. Different delivery contexts, locations and types of clients can affect the equity, effectiveness and efficiency of ECEC services.

Information to assist the interpretation of these data can be found in the ECEC services supporting interpretative material and data tables. Data tables are identified by a ‘3A’ prefix (for example, table 3A.1).

All data are available for download as an excel spreadsheet and as a CSV dataset — refer to Download supporting material. Specific data used in figures can be downloaded by clicking in the figure area, navigating to the bottom of the visualisation to the grey toolbar, clicking on the 'Download' icon and selecting 'Data' from the menu. Selecting 'PDF' or 'Powerpoint' from the 'Download' menu will download a static view of the performance indicator results.

Performance indicator data for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this section are available in the data tables listed below. Contextual data and further supporting information can be found in the interpretative material and data tables.

ECEC services data disaggregated for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
Table number Table title
Table 3A.11 Proportion of children attending Australian Government CCS approved child care services who are from special needs groups, compared with their representation in the community
Table 3A.12 Proportion of children enrolled in a preschool program aged 3 to 5 years old who are from special needs groups, compared with their representation in the community
Table 3A.13 Proportion of children enrolled in a preschool program in the YBFS who are from special needs groups compared with the representation of children aged 4 to 5 years old in the community
Table 3A.20 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children enrolled in a preschool program aged in the state-specific YBFS, by remoteness
Table 3A.21 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children enrolled in a preschool program aged in the state-specific YBFS, by weekly hours

Download supporting material

Note: An errata was released for section 3 ECEC services above.

Errata

Total ECEC services expenditure data has been revised for WA and Australian totals for 2019-20. The revised expenditure comprises:

  • ‘Total recurrent expenditure’, ‘Net capital expenditure’ and ‘Total expenditure’ reported in tables 3A.4 and 3A.6
  • ‘Real recurrent expenditure on ECEC services and per child in ECEC’ reported in figure 3.8 and table 3A.35
  • ‘Real recurrent expenditure on ECEC services per child aged 0-12 years’ reported in tables 3.9a and 3A.36.