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4402.0 - Childhood Education and Care, Australia, June 2011 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 04/05/2012   
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EXPLANATORY NOTES


INTRODUCTION

1 The statistics in this publication were compiled from data collected in the Childhood Education and Care Survey (CEaCS) that was conducted throughout Australia in June 2011 as a supplement to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS).

2 The CEaCS collected information on topics including:

  • usual care arrangements (types of care, duration and cost)
  • care arrangements used in the survey reference week (types of care, duration and cost)
  • attendance at a preschool or preschool program (usually or in the survey reference week)
  • need for additional formal care or preschool
  • early childhood education and learning activities

3 The main aim of the survey was to provide estimates of:
  • care arrangements for children aged 0-12 years
  • attendance at educational institutions for children aged 0-12 years
  • informal learning activities for children aged 0-8 years
  • families' requirements for formal care or preschool
  • education, income and working patterns of parents of children aged 0-12 years.

4 The publication Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) contains information about survey design, sample redesign, scope, coverage and population benchmarks relevant to the monthly LFS. It contains definitions of demographic and labour force characteristics, and information about interviewing relevant to both the LFS and supplementary surveys. For more details on changes to the LFS in recent years see Information Paper: Labour Force Sample Design, Nov 2007 (cat. no. 6269.0).


SCOPE

5 The scope of the 2011 CEaCS was restricted to Australian resident children aged 0-12 years and their families living in private dwellings and excluded:
  • any non-residents visiting Australia (diplomatic personnel of overseas governments and their families, members of non-Australian defence forces stationed in Australia, or non-residents otherwise visiting Australia)
  • special dwelling type institutionalised persons (e.g. patients in hospitals, residents of homes for persons with disabilities)
  • special dwelling type boarding school pupils
  • very remote parts of Australia.

6 The survey also excluded members of the Australian permanent defence forces. One parent families where the parent was a member of the Australian permanent defence forces and couple families where both parents were members are out of scope. In couple families where one parent was a member of the Australian permanent defence forces, no employment information is available for that parent, but information on the family and the children was obtained from the other resident parent.

7 The survey was conducted in both urban and rural areas in all states and territories, but excluded persons living in very remote parts of Australia who would otherwise have been within scope of the survey. The exclusion of these people is unlikely to impact on state and territory estimates, except in the Northern Territory where they account for approximately 23% of the total population.


COVERAGE

8 The coverage of this survey was the same as the scope except that persons living in Indigenous communities were not enumerated for operational reasons.

9 The survey coverage also excludes persons absent from their usual residence for an extended period. One parent families where the parent was temporarily absent and couple families where both parents were temporarily absent were not enumerated. In couple families where one parent was temporarily absent, no employment information is available for that parent, but information on the family and the children was obtained from the other parent.


Coverage rules

10 The estimates in this publication relate to persons covered by the survey. In the LFS, coverage rules are applied which aim to ensure that each person is associated with only one dwelling, and hence had only one chance of selection in the survey. See Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) for more details.


DATA COLLECTION

11 Information was collected between 5 and 18 June 2011, through interviews conducted with parents of children aged 0-12 years. Interviews were conducted either face-to-face or over the telephone, using computer assisted interviewing (CAI).

12 For interviews conducted between 5 and 11 June 2011, the reference week was 29 May to 4 June. For interviews conducted between 12 and 18 June, the reference week was 5 to 11 June, with the exception of those in Tasmania where the reference week was 29 May to 4 June to avoid Tasmanian school holidays.

13 In each selected household, detailed information about child care arrangements and early childhood education was collected for a maximum of two children aged 0-12 years. Information was obtained from an adult who permanently resided in the selected household and was either the child's parent or guardian. In households with more than two children aged 0-12 years, two children were randomly selected from within the same family and the complete set of information was collected for these children. In households with multiple families information was collected for children from only one family. Summary information was collected for other children in the family including the number attending child care and/or preschool and the cost of this care (including any rebates such as the Child Care Benefit).

14 Supplementary surveys are not conducted on the full LFS sample. Since August 1994, the sample for supplementary surveys has been restricted to the first 7 of the 8 months during which a dwelling is enumerated in the LFS (i.e. seven-eighths of the LFS sample).

15 Approximately 96.7% of selected households were fully responding to CEaCS.


ESTIMATION METHOD

16 Weighting is the process of adjusting results from a sample survey to infer results for the total population. To do this, a 'weight' is allocated to each covered sample unit, which for CEaCS can be either person or a household. The weight is a value which indicates how many population units are represented by the sample unit. The first step in calculating weights for each unit is to assign an initial weight, which is the inverse of the probability of being selected in the survey.


Population benchmarks

17 The initial weights were calibrated to align with independent estimates of the population of interest, referred to as 'benchmarks'. Weights calibrated against population benchmarks ensure that the survey estimates conform to the independently estimated distribution of the population rather than the distribution within the sample itself. Calibration to population benchmarks helps to compensate for over or under-enumeration of particular categories of persons/households which may occur due to either the random nature of sampling or non-response.

18 For person estimates, CEaCS was benchmarked to the Estimated Resident Population (ERP) in each state and territory, excluding the ERP living in very remote areas of Australia, at 30 June 2011. For household estimates, CEaCS was benchmarked to independently calculated estimates of the total number of households in Australia with children aged under 13 years. CEaCS estimates do not (and are not intended to) match estimates for the total Australian person/household population obtained from other sources (which may include persons living in very remote parts of Australia).


Estimation

19 Survey estimates of counts of persons or households are obtained by summing the weights of persons or households with the characteristic of interest.


CHANGES BETWEEN SURVEYS

20 In the 2011 CEaCS, for children aged 2-6 years, information was collected separately on current and expected requirements for additional formal care and preschool. In 2008, the survey asked only about either formal care or preschool, whichever the parent identified as most required.

21 The 2011 CEaCS asked about 'usual' use of each type of care before asking about 'last week', while the 2008 survey asked these questions in the opposite order. This change may have affected the way parents reported their use of care.

22 The amount of rebate available on child care costs has changed since 2008. For more information see Child Care Benefit and the Child Care Rebate below.

23 Every 5 years, following the availability of data from the Census of Population and Housing, the ABS reviews the LFS sample design. For more information see Information Paper: Labour Force Sample Design, Nov 2007 (cat. no. 6269.0).


USING THE DATA

24 To minimise the reporting load on families in CEaCS, parental educational attainment and participation information was only collected from those households entering the LFS in June 2011. For the remaining CEaCS sample in June 2011, parental education data had been collected in the May 2011 LFS supplementary survey, the Survey of Education and Work, and these data were used in CEaCS. For 5% of parents in CEaCS, education data could not be matched or was otherwise unavailable.

25 Care needs to be taken when comparing the 2011 CEaCS data with other surveys or administrative data, as the CEaCS collects information on usual child care and preschool attendance patterns as well as attendance in the survey reference week at a point in time (June 2011).

26 Information about the working arrangements used by parents to help care for their child was not available for parents who were out of scope of the labour force survey for any reason (see Scope and Coverage above).


CHILD CARE BENEFIT AND THE CHILD CARE REBATE

27 The Child Care Benefit (CCB) was introduced in July 2000 and replaced Child Care Assistance and the Child Care Rebate. The CCB is available to families who use approved and registered care.

28 Families using approved child care services can choose to receive their CCB as reduced child care fees (benefit paid direct to provider) or as a lump sum payment at the end of the financial year (benefit paid direct to parent).

29 Families who receive the CCB for approved care may also be eligible to receive the Child Care Rebate (CCR) which was introduced in July 2009. Prior to 2009, the CCR was known as the Child Care Tax Rebate (CCTR) and in the 2008 CEaCS, this was used to calculate cost of child care. The CCR entitles eligible families to a rebate of 50% of out-of-pocket child care costs after the CCB has been applied. In 2008 the CCTR was 30% of out-of-pocket child care costs. For more information on different types of family assistance, see <http://www.familyassist.gov.au>.


COST OF CARE

30 Within this publication, cost of care is reported as the net cost of care to the parents after the CCB and CCR have been deducted, estimated based on a number of variables in the CEaCS.

31 Most families receive the CCB in the form of a fee reduction that is paid directly to the child care service provider. In these cases, questions in the 2011 CEaCS prompt families to report the out of pocket amount they have paid to the child care service provider after CCB.

32 In a minority of cases, where parents had claimed or intended to claim the CCB as a lump sum, the amount of CCB has been estimated. The CCB was estimated based on information provided in the CCB Ready Reckoner 2010-2011 and the Child Care Service Handbook 2010-2011 provided by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. The value of the CCB can be calculated using information about: the type of care; the number of hours of care; the standard hourly rate; family income; number of children in the family using child care; whether the child attends school; and for long day care and family day care, whether the care is part-time or full-time.

33 In estimating the CCB for the small number of cases where parents were claiming a lump sum payment, it was assumed that:
  • if the parent intended to claim the CCB, then the care provider was eligible (i.e. an approved or registered child care service)
  • basic eligibility requirements for the benefit were met (e.g. residency and children's immunisation)
  • the parent would be willing to provide their tax file number to the Family Assistance Office, which would enable them to obtain the CCB above minimum rates (depending upon the parents' income)
  • the parent met the CCB work, study, training test, which is required for CCB in relation to registered care and is required for CCB in excess of 24 hours care per week for approved care.

34 The CCR work, study, training test was applied if families received the CCB or were intending to claim the CCB for approved care. The reduction in child care fees was calculated on the out-of-pocket expenses incurred by families for approved care after the CCB. As assumptions were made about families' eligibility for the CCB and CCR, care should be taken when using estimates of cost of care data presented in this publication.

35 From 2008 to 2011, the following changes have been made to the calculation of estimated net cost of care:
  • In 2008, the CCR rebated 30% of out-of-pocket expenses for approved child care whereas in 2011 the CCR rebated 50% of costs
  • The income brackets used to calculate CCB were indexed up between 2008 and 2011
  • An upper limit for CCR of $7500 per child per year was applied in 2011.
  • The CCR is only claimable if both parents are working, studying or looking for work. In 2008, the CCR was applied to all parents regardless of whether these conditions were met.


REQUIREMENTS FOR ADDITIONAL FORMAL CHILD CARE AND PRESCHOOL

36 The 2011 CEaCS collected information on whether parents would like their child to attend more formal care or preschool than they were attending at the time of the survey. This includes instances in which children were already attending care or preschool and parents wished for them to attend more, as well as instances in which children did not attend any care or preschool and parents wished for them to attend. It does not include instances in which parents wish to change service providers but not type or quantity of service.

37 These measures are not intended to provide an indicator of the number of additional formal care or preschool places required, the 'unmet demand' for formal care or preschool, or the number of children on waiting lists for formal care or preschool. This is because CEaCS cannot capture the likelihood that a parent will take steps to access the care or preschool they require, or place their child in this care or preschool. Various factors including cost, location and the perceived suitability or quality of the service will have an influence on whether parents take these steps.


RELIABILITY OF ESTIMATES

38 All sample surveys are subject to error which can be broadly categorised as either sampling or non-sampling error.

39 Sampling error is the difference between the published estimates, derived from a sample of persons, and the value that would have been produced if the total population (as defined for the scope of the survey) had been included in the survey. For more information refer to the Technical Note.

40 Non-sampling error may occur in any collection, whether it is based on a sample or a full count such as a census. Sources of non-sampling error include non-response, errors in reporting by respondents or recording of answers by interviewers and errors in coding and processing data. Every effort is made to reduce non-sampling error by careful design and testing of the questionnaire, training and supervision of interviewers and extensive editing and quality control procedures at all stages of data processing.


DATA QUALITY

41 Information in this survey is collected in person or by telephone from parents and hence may differ from that which might be obtained from other sources (such as administrative data) or via other methodologies (such as a paper form). This factor should be considered when interpreting the estimates in this publication. Please see Appendix for a comparison of CEaCS data with administrative data on preschools.


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

42 Summary results from this survey, compiled separately for each state, are available as a set of spreadsheets in Childhood Education and Care, Australia Datacubes (cat. no. 4402.0.55.003) from the ABS website <www.abs.gov.au> or on request to the ABS.

43 For users who wish to undertake more detailed analysis of the survey data, an expanded confidentialised unit record data file (CURF) is proposed to be available in the second half of 2012. The Expanded CURF will be accessible through the ABS Remote Access Data Laboratory (RADL) system. It is also anticipated that aggregated data from this survey in table format will be available through the Survey TableBuilder environment in late 2012. For further details refer to the Microdata pages on the ABS website.

44 Special tabulations are available on request. Subject to confidentiality and sampling variability constraints, tabulations can be produced from the survey incorporating data items, populations and geographic areas selected to meet individual requirements. These can be provided in printed or electronic form. Note that detailed data can be subject to high relative standard errors which in some cases may result in data being confidentialised.

45 For further information about these or related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

46 ABS publications draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated; without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.


NEXT SURVEY

47 The ABS plans to conduct this survey again in June 2014.

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