KEY COLLECTION DEFINITIONS
The following section defines key terms used in this manual.
A child is considered to be enrolled if they have been offered a place in a preschool program and are actively attending. Children who are absent in the reference period due to illness or holiday leave are considered to be enrolled if they are expected to return.
A child is considered to be attending a preschool program if the child is present at least once during the reference period.
For the purpose of the National ECEC Collection, a teacher is defined as the person or persons with a relevant university qualification who is delivering the preschool program. Delivery of a preschool program refers to face to face delivery by a primary contact worker of a preschool program that is a structured, play-based, educational program. A teacher is defined as delivering a preschool program if they delivered the program at least once within the reference period. Teachers who were on alternate duties during the reference period or were absent due to illness or extended holiday leave should not be included.
Preschool program fees
Fees refer to the 'out of pocket' expenses to the parent or guardian for the child to attend the preschool program, after subsidies have been paid/received. Preschool fees are collected differently for unit record level (URL) data and aggregate level data. For URL data, fee and subsidy information is collected at the child level. As this is not possible for aggregate collections, fee per child information is based on a service's schedule of fixed fees, for example a charge of $150 per full term. The fee schedule can differ between programs, organisations and jurisdictions. Fees may be charged daily, weekly, annually, per session or per term. If data is collected or provided at any level other than weekly, the weekly fee is derived from the provided fee and fee schedule.
Information on preschool hours available, enrolled and attended is necessary to evaluate whether children have access to 15 hours of preschool per week and if so, whether they are enrolling and attending the program for those hours. Part of the Universal Access commitment is that by 2013 every child will have access to a preschool program for at least 15 hours a week, 40 weeks a year.
Hours data is collected differently for URL data and aggregate level data. For URL data, hours information is collected at the child level. As this is not possible for aggregate collections, hours data are collected at the service provider level, and hours per child is derived.
The National Partnership Agreement on Early Childhood Education (NP ECE) outlines that preschool programs should be available to everyone, regardless of their income or background. The NP ECE also recognises that disadvantaged families often face barriers to accessing government services for various reasons.
To measure the extent to which children from disadvantaged families are under represented in preschool programs, the National ECEC Collection uses usual residence, in conjunction with the geographically based Index of Relative Social Disadvantage (IRSD), which is one of four indexes of the Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA).
Socio-economic indexes for areas
The SEIFA is a product developed especially for those interested in the assessment of the welfare of Australian communities. The ABS has developed four indexes to allow ranking of regions/areas, providing a method of determining the level of social and economic well-being in each region.
Each of the four indexes summarises different aspects of the socio-economic conditions of people living in an area; each is based upon a different set of social and economic information from the 2006 Census of Population and Housing. The indexes provide more general measures of socio-economic status than is given by measuring, for example, income or unemployment alone. The IRSD is the SEIFA index used for the National ECEC Collection.
Index of relative social disadvantage
The IRSD summarises a range of information about the economic and social resources of people and households within an area. Unlike other indexes, this index includes only measures of relative disadvantage. Variables that comprise this index include; low income, no qualifications, unemployment, overcrowded housing, disability, no car, and Indigenous status.
A goal of the Universal Access commitment is to provide equal access to all children, including improving preschool attendance rates for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children. A child is considered to be Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander if he or she is identified by a parent/guardian as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin. The National ECEC Collection uses the ABS standard Indigenous categories:
- Aboriginal but not Torres Strait Islander origin
- Torres Strait Islander but not Aboriginal origin
- Both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin
- Neither Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin
- Not stated/inadequately described