What the NQF means for your child

National Quality Framework

Research shows quality education and care early in life leads to better health, education and employment outcomes later in life. The early years are critical for establishing self-esteem, resilience, healthy growth and capacity to learn.

That’s why the National Quality Framework (NQF) was introduced – to give every child the best start to life and learning.

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.

Read the NQF fact sheet for families on the Starting Blocks website.
Find a service near you and their quality ratings. 

National Quality Standard and quality ratings

Services are assessed and rated against seven quality areas of the National Quality Standard:

  1. Educational program and practice
    Your child is supported to participate in play and learning
  2. Children’s health and safety
    Your child is protected from illness and hazards
  3. Physical environment
    Your child plays in a safe and well maintained environment
  4. Staffing arrangements
    There are enough qualified staff to give your child the attention they need
  5. Relationships with children
    Your child is made to feel supported and welcomed
  6. Collaborative partnerships with families and communities
    Local community involvement and respect and inclusion of all beliefs and values
  7. Leadership and service management
    Your child is cared for in a positive environment

Services receive a rating for each of the quality areas and an overall rating based on these results. Services must display their ratings.

Ratings can help you choose a service for your child. It is important to look at the rating for each of the seven quality areas as well as the overall rating.

Most services will be rated: Working towards; Meeting; Exceeding National Quality Standard.
Services that receive an overall rating of Exceeding may apply to be rated Excellent. If a service is assessed and there are serious compliance issues, it is rated Significant Improvement Required. In this situation, the regulator uses penalties to make sure the service improves, or otherwise will stop the service from operating.

Find a service near you and their quality ratings.
Read about the different types of education and care services.
Read our fact sheet on preparing for child care.

Benefits of the NQF

The NQF aims to improve quality of education and care in a number of ways.

More qualified staff
Research shows higher qualified educators improve outcomes for children. The higher their qualifications, the greater their understanding of child development, health and safety issues. These educators are better equipped to lead activities that inspire children and help them learn and develop.

More individual care and attention
Improving educator to child ratios allows staff to give more individual care and attention and contributes to better social and learning outcomes for children. Educators are able to develop more effective and meaningful relationships with children, resulting in more engaged, happy and relaxed youngsters.

Read more about improved educator to child ratios being introduced throughout Australia.

Consistent information on quality

All services are being assessed and rated to give families consistent information on their quality. This means wherever you live in Australia or if your family moves interstate, you can compare apples with apples when it comes to finding child care. These ratings are published on the Starting Blocks website.

More information

The Starting Blocks website offers helpful tips for parents on early childhood development and what to look for to ensure your child gets a quality care and learning experience.

If you have concerns about a service, contact the service provider or your local state and territory regulatory authority