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 2014 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.
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.
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
, May 2013 (cat. no. 6269.0).
The scope of the 2014 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
- Indigenous communities.
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 people living in Indigenous Communities. The exclusion of people living in these areas is unlikely to impact on state and territory estimates, except in the Northern Territory where they account for approximately 15% of the total population aged 15–74 years.
8 The survey coverage 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.
9 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.
10 Interviews were conducted between 8 and 21 June 2014, with some additional follow up of just over 500 outstanding households to increase sample numbers conducted in September 2014. Interviews were conducted with parents of children aged 0-12 years either face-to-face or over the telephone, using computer assisted interviewing (CAI).
11 For interviews conducted between 8 and 14 June 2014, the reference week was 1 to 7 June. For interviews conducted between 15 and 21 June, the reference week was 8 to 14 June. For interviews conducted in September, the reference week was 24 to 30 August 2014.
12 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).
13 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).
14 Approximately 83% of selected households were fully responding to CEaCS, resulting in 4,635 household records and 7,126 children records.
15 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.
16 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.
17 For person estimates, CEaCS was benchmarked to the Estimated Resident Population (ERP) in each state and territory at 30 June 2014. 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.
18 Survey estimates of counts of persons or households are obtained by summing the weights of persons or households with the characteristic of interest.
19 To minimise the risk of identifying individuals in aggregate statistics, a technique is used to randomly adjust cell values. This technique is called perturbation. Perturbation involves small random adjustment of the statistics and is considered the most satisfactory technique for avoiding the release of identifiable statistics while maximising the range of information that can be released. These adjustments have a negligible impact on the underlying pattern of the statistics. After perturbation, a given published cell value will be consistent across all tables. However, adding up cell values to derive a total will not necessarily give the same result as published totals. The introduction of perturbation in publications ensures that these statistics are consistent with statistics released via services such as Table Builder.
20 Estimates of mean and median values presented in this publication were not subject to perturbation. Consequently, estimates of mean and median values produced using Table Builder may differ from those presented in this publication.
CHANGES BETWEEN SURVEYS
21 This is the first time that perturbed estimates are being produced for CEaCS.
22 People living in Indigenous communities or in very remote parts of Australia were excluded from CEaCS in 2011 whereas in 2014 only people living in Indigenous communities were excluded.
23 In the 2011 CEaCS some questions about school attendance were only asked of children aged 4 to 8 years. This was changed to 4 to 12 years in 2014 to provide broader information about the age of starting school and educational programs attended prior to school.
24 As was done in 2011, the 2014 CEaCS continued to ask about 'usual' use of each type of care before asking about 'last week'.
25 Questions relating to informal learning alone by the child or with someone else other than their parent or guardian were removed from the 2014 survey.
26 While the amount of rebate available on child care costs has remained the same since 2011, in 2014 parents and guardians were asked extra questions about the Child Care Rebate to determine child care costs. For more information see Child Care Benefit and the Child Care Rebate below.
27 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, May 2013 (cat. no. 6269.0).
28 After each Census, population estimates are normally revised back five years to the previous Census year. As announced in the June 2012 issue of Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0), intercensal error between the 2006 and 2011 Censuses was larger than normal due to improved methodologies used in the 2011 Census Post Enumeration Survey. The intercensal error analysis indicated that previous population estimates for the base Census years were over-counted. An indicative estimate of the size of the over-count is that there should have been 240,000 fewer people at June 2006, 130,000 fewer in 2001 and 70,000 fewer in 1996. As a result, Estimated Resident Population estimates have been revised for the last 20 years rather than the usual five. Consequently, estimates of particular populations derived from CEaCS 2014 may be lower than those published for CEaCS 2011 and previous years as the CEaCS estimates have not been revised. Therefore, comparisons of CEaCS 2014 estimates of the number of children with previous years should not be made. However, for comparable data items, comparison of rates or proportions between years is appropriate.
USING THE DATA
29 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 2014. For the remaining CEaCS sample in June 2014, parental education data that had been collected in the May 2014 LFS supplementary survey, the Survey of Education and Work, were used in CEaCS. For 5% of parents in CEaCS, education data could not be matched or was otherwise unavailable.
30 Care needs to be taken when comparing the 2014 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.
31 Comparisons of CEaCS 2014 estimates of the number of children with previous years should not be made. However, for comparable data items, comparison of rates or proportions between years is appropriate.
32 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
33 The Child Care Benefit (CCB) was introduced in July 2000 and replaced Child Care Assistance. The CCB is available to families who use approved and registered care.
34 Families using approved child care services can choose to receive their CCB as reduced child care fees (benefit paid direct to provider), quarterly payments direct to parents or as a lump sum payment at the end of the financial year (benefit paid direct to parents).
35 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 and used to calculate the cost of child care in 2011 CEaCS. 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. In 2008 the CCTR was 30% of out-of-pocket child care costs while the CCR entitles eligible families to a rebate of up to 50% of out-of-pocket child care costs after the CCB has been applied. For more information on different types of family assistance, see Australian Government Department of Human Services.
36 In July 2011 there was a change to the way families can choose to receive CCR. Families can now choose to receive their CCR as reduced child care fees (benefit paid direct to provider) as well quarterly payments direct to parents or as a lump sum payment at the end of the financial year direct to parents (both previously available).
COST OF CARE
37 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.
38 Families receive the CCB and CCR in different ways and as a result questions in the 2014 CEaCS asked families to report the cost of child care. This was followed up with subsequent questions asking if the cost was before or after CCB and CCR to accurately calculate the out of pocket expense of child care to the family.
39 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 by the Department of Education. 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.
40 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 provided their tax file number to the Family Assistance Office, which enabled 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.
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.
In CEaCS 2014, the income brackets used to calculate CCB in the calculation of estimated net cost of care have been indexed up from 2011.
REQUIREMENTS FOR ADDITIONAL FORMAL CHILD CARE AND PRESCHOOL
43 The 2014 CEaCS continued to collect 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 wanted them to attend more, as well as instances in which children did not attend any care or preschool and parents wanted them to attend. It does not include instances in which parents want to change service providers but not type or quantity of service.
44 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
45 All sample surveys are subject to error which can be broadly categorised as either sampling or non-sampling error.
46 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.
47 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.
48 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
49 This release includes summary results from this survey which were previously available in Childhood Education and Care, Australia Datacubes, June 2011 (cat. no. 4402.0.55.003).
50 The Data cubes present tables of estimates and proportions. The main publication data cube also provides the corresponding Relative Standard Error (RSE) while the summary data cubes provide Margins of Error (MOEs) in addition to the RSEs.
51 For users who wish to undertake more detailed analysis of the data, the survey microdata will be released through the Table Builder product. For further details refer to the Microdata pages on the ABS website.
52 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.
54 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.
55 The ABS plans to conduct this survey again in June 2017.