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4240.0.55.001 - National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection Manual, 2010  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 05/04/2011  First Issue
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NEW SOUTH WALES

OVERVIEW

In New South Wales (NSW), ‘preschool’ is the term used for the year before school and ‘kindergarten’ is the term used for the child’s first year of school. There are a variety of preschool programs that children can attend to receive early childhood education in NSW, including community-based preschools, Department of Education and Training (DET) preschools, long day-care centres (LDCs) and preschools in non-government private schools.


MANAGEMENT TYPES, LEGISLATION AND LICENSING

All preschools in NSW comply with the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 (NSW) and the Children's Services Regulation 2004. Some school-based preschools (government or non-government managed) are also covered by the Education Act 1990 (NSW), depending on the curriculum focus.

Community Services, Department of Human Services NSW (Community Services) licenses all children's services across NSW, including LDC, occasional day care, family day care, home-based care and preschool. Licenses are for a term of three years or less.

Preschool

Preschool in NSW consists of the following management types:

Government managed

Across NSW, the DET operate approximately 100 preschool services that are attached to government schools. These preschools are located on government school sites and deliver preschool programs to children one year prior to enrolment in kindergarten (the first year of full-time school). Services operated by DET are provided free of charge, although some may charge a voluntary nominal daily donation. Since July 2010, services operated by the DET are required to be licensed by NSW Community Services. Government school-based preschools may also be covered by the Education Act 1990, depending on the curriculum focus.

Non-government managed

In NSW, there are two types of non-government preschools - community and independent.

Community managed: NSW Community Services provides funding for community-based, not-for-profit preschools, which are owned and operated by community organisations or local government and have a main service activity type of preschool. These preschools are licensed, monitored and funded by NSW Community Services. In addition to funding provided by NSW Community Services, most of these services also charge tuition fees.

Independent school managed: There are a number of non-government private schools which also provide preschool. Non-government school-based preschools may be covered by the Education Act 1990, depending on the curriculum focus.

Long day care

LDCs in NSW consist of the following management types:

Private for-profit managed: Commercial for-profit LDCs are managed by the private sector and have a main service activity type that is not preschool. These services do not receive funding from NSW Community Services. As this sector is largely unfunded by the government it was difficult to collect data from these providers in 2010. Therefore, NSW did not gain comprehensive coverage of these services.


QUALITY OF DATA SOURCE

In 2010 NSW had two main sources for collection of data in relation to preschool services:

  • Children's Services Data Collection - data collected at the unit record level (URL) and aggregate level.
  • NSW Department of Education and Training Census - all data collected at the URL.

Children's Services Data Collection

Due to the inherent differences between URL and aggregate data collection methodologies, the ABS did not disseminate aggregate data collected by NSW Community Services for the 2010 National ECEC Collection, as it was not comparable with data collected through the URL collection. This aggregate component represented a small proportion of service providers in the overall collection.

Institutional environment

The organisation responsible for the Children's Services Data Collection was Community Services, Department of Human Services NSW (Community Services).

Relevance

The data collected by NSW Community Services was used for the NSW government's reporting commitments, and to assist with the evaluation and planning of service provision. For preschools, the information obtained was used to determine the funding that will be provided for the next year and the projected annual subsidy amounts for the Early Childhood Teacher Costs Contribution Scheme. This scheme offsets the cost for the employment and professional development of early childhood teachers. Data were also used for monitoring the Children's Services Program funded services and reporting to the Commonwealth on achievements against targets.

The Children's Services Data Collection included all children aged 0 to 6 years old attending an in-scope service who did not receive or were not eligible for the Child Care Benefit (CCB) or the Child Care Rebate (CCR). In-scope organisations for 2010 included:
  • preschools that were licensed, monitored and funded by NSW Community Services;
  • not-for-profit and community preschools, and LDCs, which were owned and operated by community organisations or local councils; and
  • vacation care, occasional care and other early childhood programs.

Community managed preschools in NSW were mandated to participate in the annual data collection as they were licensed, monitored and funded by NSW Community Services, and therefore full coverage in the collection was achieved from these preschools. However, only children who did not receive or were not eligible for the CCB or the CCR were included in the collection.

A substantial proportion of preschools in NSW were commercial for-profit LDCs, managed by the private sector. These services do not receive funding from NSW Community Services and therefore it was difficult to collect data from them. All providers registered for the CCB and the CCR were excluded from the 2010 Children's Services Data Collection. The Early Childhood Education and Care National Minimum Data Set (ECEC NMDS) defines that a preschool program can operate in an LDC if the program comprises a structured education program usually provided by a qualified teacher. Jurisdictional collections currently do not have full coverage of preschool programs being delivered in LDC as defined by the ECEC NMDS for the National ECEC Collection. Data sourced from the Child Care Management System (CCMS) is required to achieve full coverage of preschool activity in LDC nationally. CCMS preschool data was not included in the 2010 collection due to the required information not being collected. In the future, the National ECEC Collection aims to include information on preschool programs provided within LDC through the CCMS.

The Children's Services Data Collection collected data at a range of levels at both URL and aggregate level as follows:
  • Preschool program: information on service operations and characteristics;
  • Children enrolled in a preschool program: information on child demographics, enrolment and attendance;
  • Staff: at the person level, information on employment arrangements and qualifications.

Timeliness

The collection was undertaken on the NSW census date of 20 August 2010, for a representative fortnight of 9 August to 20 August 2010. The collection reference period adopted by NSW Community Services did not align with the recommended August collection reference period adopted by the other jurisdictions for the 2010 National ECEC Collection.

All service providers were required to return data to NSW Community Services by 10 September 2010. Completion of the data processing and validation stage took approximately 2 to 3 months after the collection date, at which time the data were delivered to the ABS.

Accuracy

All providers funded by NSW Community Services and offering a preschool service were required to participate in the collection. In 2010 preschool service providers were encouraged to use a new online data entry system, however the existing online format also remained available for the 2010 collection, for those service providers that preferred that method.

The new on-line collection tool allowed preschool service providers to:
  • Enter data for each child and staff member, and to automatically calculate totals.
  • Commence entering individual child and staff member details during the representative fortnight.
  • Generate a copy of the data that had been entered for their own records.

Service providers entered data from child enrolment forms into their service provider data repository. During the collection period, data from this repository was used by the service provider to populate child enrolment information. Service providers also entered additional data into the on-line database at unit record level to meet the collection requirements. After this was completed, data entry requirement restrictions were used to ensure the required data were entered before the data could be submitted. The data was then sent to an off-line database (NSW Community Services data repository) for storage. The user then received an automatic report via e-mail confirming that data had been submitted successfully and received by NSW Community Services.

The 2010 data collection did not collect Statistical Linkage Key (SLK) information, therefore identification of duplicate records across multiple services was not possible. NSW plans to collect SLK information for 2011, which will make it possible to identify duplicate records.

NSW Community Services ensured that all services submitted compulsory data. The online form used by services contained some validation rules that prevented inconsistent and missing data. During the data collection period, services could call a 1300 phone number to clarify counting rules and data collection procedures. After the data collection period, services were able to change their data by notifying NSW Community Services if they identified an error.

In addition, all submitted data were cross-checked for consistency with operational characteristics such as approved number of places and opening hours at each service, so that obvious errors were identified. Previous years data were also compared and, where large variations had occurred, services were contacted to determine whether errors had occurred in current year's data. Regional staff also undertook random audits of services after the collection period.

Coherence

In 2010 NSW Community Services collected some data through the Children's Services Data Collection using an URL data collection methodology (i.e. if service providers opted to use the new on-line form).

In the collection reference period, a child may be enrolled and attend two or more preschool programs. In order to address key collection requirements, it is important to be able to count each child once. A child may be ‘double counted’ in a number of ways and a URL collection itself may not be able to completely address all the occurrences where double counting of a child may occur. Care needs to be taken when interpreting URL child data from NSW Community Services due to double counting that may have occurred:
  • Across jurisdictions: where children and their families moved interstate during a preschool year. Eliminating this type of double counting was not achieved in 2010 as a common collection reference date for all jurisdictions was not achieved.
  • Across sectors: where a family may be using a government preschool and a non-government preschool. Eliminating this type of double counting is only achievable where multiple URL collections across sectors within a jurisdiction are comparable and compliant with the National Minimum Data Set (NMDS). This was not achieved due to NSW adopting both URL and aggregate collection methodologies.
  • Across time: where a child attends preschool for more than 1 year (e.g. a child repeats preschool, or was enrolled in an 'early entry' preschool program). Elimination of this type of double counting is only achieved through comparable, NMDS compliant time series, which was not achieved in the 2010 National ECEC Collection due to it being the inaugural collection.
  • Within sector: where children are enrolled in more than one non-government preschool at once. Due to services within sectors being able to complete the collection with either aggregate or URL methodology and did not collect required information to produce a SLK, double counting within sectors in NSW was not addressed.

Further information on URL data elements:
  • Date of birth: day of birth was not provided, only month and year.
  • Area of usual residence: street address of the child was not provided. This affected the accuracy of NSW geo-coding performed by the ABS.
  • Indigenous status: there was no breakdown into Indigenous status categories, only 'Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander' or 'Non-Indigenous' information was provided.
  • Hours attended: Hours attended for each child were derived from the number of days attended in a fortnight.
  • Hours enrolled: hours enrolled for each child were derived from the number of days enrolled in a fortnight.
  • SLK: letters of family name and given name were not provided, significantly decreasing the ability to detect duplicate counts of children enrolled and attending.

NSW Community Services also collected some data using an aggregate data collection methodology (i.e. if service providers opted to use the existing online form). For the 2010 collection, the aggregate data collected by NSW Community Services was not disseminated as the data was not comparable with data collected through the URL collection. This aggregate component represented a small proportion of service providers in the overall collection.

Interpretability

NSW provided a range of key information via manuals and fact sheets, such as the 2010 Census Booklet and Coding Instructions, to assist in the reporting of data, correct interpretation and explanation of concepts.

Accessibility

National and jurisdictional level information is published in Experimental Estimates of Preschool Education, Australia, 2010 (cat. no. 4240.0) on the ABS website.

NSW Department of Education and Training Census

Data from government preschools were collected from the Department of Education and Training Census.

Institutional environment

The organisation responsible for the Department of Education and Training Census was the NSW Department of Education and Training (DET).

Relevance

In 2010 the DET conducted a census on all preschools attached to government primary schools and achieved complete coverage of these service providers. The data collected by DET enabled reporting across the NSW ECEC sector for a variety of reporting requirements.

The scope of this collection included all children aged 3 to 6 years old who were attending a preschool program at a government school in NSW.

The scope of this collection included:
  • Preschools services funded and provided by DET, and located on government school sites: information on service operations and characteristics;
  • Children enrolled at a DET preschool and aged 3 to 6 years old: at unit record level, information on child demographics, enrolment and attendance;
  • Staff: at the person level, information on employment arrangements and qualifications.

Timeliness

The collection was undertaken on the NSW DET census date at 6 August 2010 for a representative week of 2 August to 6 August 2010. Completion of the data processing and validation stage took approximately 2 to 3 months after the collection date, at which time the data were delivered to the ABS.

Accuracy

All DET preschools were required to participate in the collection by completing a paper-based collection form. There were three sections to the preschool census collection:
  • general preschool data (e.g. number of children enrolled, number of Indigenous children);
  • class or group data (overall session details for service and individual attendance for children, along with date of birth, sex and special needs); and
  • teacher data (e.g. qualifications and length of employment).

During the collection period, service providers completed collection forms by entering enrolment data and additional information to meet the collection requirements. Service providers uploaded the information from each child's enrolment form into the government service provider data repository. DET then supplied data from this repository to NSW Community Services, where it was stored in the NSW Community Services data repository.

The ABS sources the data from this repository for the 2010 National ECEC Collection. Once data is received by the ABS, additional validation is carried out.

Coherence

In a collection reference period, a child may be enrolled in and attend two or more preschool programs. In order to address key collection requirements, it is important to be able to count each child once. A child may be ‘double counted’ in a number of ways and a URL collection itself may not be able to address all the occurrences where double counting of a child may occur. Care needs to be taken when interpreting URL child data from NSW DET due to double counting that may have occurred:
  • Across jurisdictions: where children and their families moved interstate during a preschool year. Eliminating this type of double counting was not achieved in 2010 as a common collection reference date for all jurisdictions was not achieved.
  • Across sectors: where a family may be using a government preschool and a non-government preschool. Eliminating this type of double counting is only achievable where multiple URL collections across sectors within a jurisdiction are comparable and compliant with the NMDS. This was not achieved due to NSW adopting URL and aggregate collection methodologies for on-government preschool data.
  • Across time: where a child attends preschool for more than 1 year (e.g. a child repeats preschool, or was enrolled in an 'early entry' preschool program). Elimination of this type of double counting is only achieved through comparable, NMDS compliant time series, which was not achieved in the 2010 National ECEC Collection due to it being the inaugural collection.

NSW DET were able to identify double counting and apply appropriate methods for the following situations:
  • Within sector: where children are enrolled in more than one government preschool at once. Due to the URL methodology and use of SLK, NSW DET data is unlikely to have any double counting occurring within the sector.

For 2010 DET data, the following data elements were not provided:
  • Eligibility for subsidy indicator
  • Maximum preschool hours available per week

Further information on data elements:
  • Hours attended - Hours attended for each child were derived from the number of days attended
  • Hours enrolled - Hours enrolled for each child were derived from the number of days enrolled

Interpretability

Limited information is known as to the types of explanatory fact sheets or manuals which assist in the collection of data.

Accessibility

National and jurisdictional level information is published in Experimental Estimates of Preschool Education, Australia, 2010 (cat. no. 4240.0), on the ABS website.

The information contained within this report has been sourced from NSW Community Services website and the Department of Education and Training website in addition to consultations held between NSW Community Services and the ABS. Further information is available at the NSW Community Services website <http://www.community.nsw.gov.au> and DET website <http://www.schools.nsw.edu.au>.





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