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A review of the approach to setting national standards and assuring the quality of care in Australian child care services

Tayler, Collette P., Wills, Mike, Hayden, Jacqueline, & Wilson, Clevo (2006) A review of the approach to setting national standards and assuring the quality of care in Australian child care services. Faculty of Education, QUT.

Abstract

The Australian Government and state and territory governments are reviewing the processes for setting child care standards in Australia. A comprehensive and integrated system of quality assurance for children’s services requires the administration of structural, process and contextual elements of service quality which, in turn, affect outcomes for children, families, service providers, and governments. National standards form a key structural element in the quality assurance agenda, illustrating the level of care that is assured to children in licensed services across Australia. This report presents findings from a review of the approach to setting standards and the quality processes surrounding certain child care services—long day care, family day care, outside school hours care and in-home care services. The development and implementation of acceptable standards in child care is a significant endeavour because the quality of care children receive affects their ongoing wellbeing and development—their health, socialisation and learning. Effective child care is also vital to adult workforce participation and smooth family functioning. Because of the scope and size of the Australian child care sector (providing care for 839000 children1), together with the level of public investment ($2.4 billion in 2003–04), the standards and quality processes that are developed and administered by governments need to be robust. The importance of measures to require, encourage and support the provision of high-quality child care services is reflected in the communiqué released by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) on 10 February 2006: High quality and integrated early childhood education and care services, encompassing the period from pre natal up to and including the transition to the first years of school, are critical to increasing the proportion of children entering school with the basic skills for life and learning. COAG will give priority to improving early childhood development outcomes, as a part of a collaborative national approach (p. 4). Promoting children’s health, learning and wellbeing is a shared responsibility, requiring input and commitment from governments, families, professionals, service providers and the broader community. This project comprised three broad and interrelated areas of work which resulted in: • a review of the current approach to the setting of child care standards and the operation of related standards and quality assurance systems • some options for an agreed national approach to standards and quality assurance in children’s services that reflect contemporary evidence and support continuous improvement • a conceptual analysis of the costs and benefits of the identified options. 1 These data are drawn from the Productivity Commission. These are 24.4 per cent of children aged 12 years or younger—the recipients of Australian, state and territory government funded and/or provided formal childcare in 2003–04 (see section 14.7). While the number of children experiencing formal and informal care has remained similar over the past decade (1.5 million aged birth–11 years in both 1993 and 2002), the types of care received and the age of children cared for have changed. Parents have increasingly used formal child care over informal care and the proportion of younger children (birth–four years) spending time in non-parental care has increased. (Australian Bureau of Statistics, Social Trends, 2004)

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ID Code: 10715
Item Type: Report
Additional Information: pages 1-203
Additional URLs:
ISBN: ISSN: 9781921130519
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2006 Centre for Learning Innovation, Faculity of Education, QUT
Copyright Statement: The contents of this report can be freely accessed online via the FaCSIA web page (see hypertext link).
Deposited On: 13 Nov 2007
Last Modified: 15 Jan 2009 17:54

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