Early childhood experts are calling for early learning services to be assessed under the National Quality Standards Framework every three years to increase the quality of early childhood education. It has been reported that the rating system which is used to determine the quality of services is not being properly maintained and reports have shown some centres are waiting between 5 - 7 years between assessments.
ACECQA rates early childhood centres on the basis of whether they are excellent, exceeding, meeting, working towards, or require significant improvement against the national quality standards. For services rated "required significant improvement" the departments with to address compliance issues and quality however some services continuously have a lower rating without any further support given.
The rating system also provides information that helps parents decide where to enrol their children. However, services rated over 6 years ago are often disregarded by families since the rating system is backdated. A spokeswoman for Goodstart Early Learning said that parents rely on the ratings to decide where to place their children.
“Many state regulators were “falling short”, with long breaks in between assessments due to underfunding and insufficient staff".
Australian Childcare Alliance president Paul Mondo mentioned that early learning services should increase their quality if they weren't continually working towards the standards. He also advised "regular assessments of services". However financial investment was needed if this action were to be mandated.
A spokesman for the Victorian Department of Education said the well-being and safety of children were top priorities.
“While there is no set period for reassessment, education and care services are usually visited at least every three years to ensure they are providing the best early learning and care environments for children. Over the past two years, the pandemic has reduced some assessment capability – but compliance checks have always continued when required to enforce or in response to complaints or concerns ” he said.
A spokesman for the Acting Minister for Education and Youth said the federal government previously invested $46 million in the Australian Children’s Education and Care Authority from 2020 to 2023 for the administration of the national quality framework.
Rating System Monitoring Childcare Quality ‘Falling Short’, The Age Australia