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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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OVERVIEW

This chapter describes key concepts and definitions used in the 2010 National Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) Collection. Further terms and definitions are provided in the Glossary.


Early childhood education and care

For the purposes of the National ECEC Collection, the phrase 'Early Childhood Education and Care' incorporates all early childhood education programs (referred to within this manual as 'preschools'), whether they are delivered in an integrated child care service, a stand-alone preschool or a preschool within a school.

Responsibility for early childhood education and care (ECEC) is shared between the Australian Government and the state or territory governments, and is administered through a wide range of service providers including government, local government, community, schools (both government and non-government) and private organisations. There is a wide range of ECEC data already collected by government and non-government agencies for funding purposes. This is also partially due to the wide range of jurisdictional government departments and providers involved in service delivery (McEwin and Ryan, 2008).


Child care

Child care services directly provide care services to children at a specific location, and can include long day care, family day care, outside school hours care, vacation care, in-home care and occasional care services. Child care services may or may not offer additional preschool programs within their service. Child care services may be provided through a combination of private organisations, community and some state and local government initiatives.

The Commonwealth Government's primary role in child care is to assist parents with the out of pocket expenses associated with child care, through the Child Care Benefit (CCB) and the Child Care Rebate (CCR). The Commonwealth also provides some operational funding to service providers and administers the quality accreditation scheme. State and territory governments are responsible for licensing and regulating child care and also provide some direct funding. Families can claim the CCB and the CCR for care delivered by approved long day care, family day care, outside school hours care, vacation care, in-home care and occasional care services.


Preschool program

A preschool program is a structured, play based learning program, usually provided by a qualified teacher on a sessional basis, primarily aimed at children in the year or two before they commence full-time schooling. This is irrespective of the type of institution that provides it or whether it is government funded or privately provided. Depending on jurisdictional delivery models, preschool programs may be delivered through government or non-government schools, government or community preschools and for-profit child care providers. Early childhood education terminology differs across states and territories and across years and these differences are summarised in the following table.

3.1 Early Childhood Education terminology, by state and territory

Program name Age requirement(a)

Two years before year 1

NSW Preschool 3 and 4 years old(b)
Vic. Kindergarten / Preschool 4 by 30 April
Qld Kindergarten 4 by 30 June
SA Preschool After 4th birthday
WA Kindergarten 4 by 30 June
Tas. Kindergarten 4 by 1 January
NT Preschool 4 by 30 June(c)
ACT Preschool 4 by 30 April

(a) Sourced from the 2009 Report on Government Services.
(b) As a general rule.
(c) For Indigenous children in remote areas, age requirement is 3 years old by 30 June.



Year before full-time schooling

The year before full-time schooling (YBFS - also referred to as the 'year before formal schooling') is a term used to describe the 'preschool' cohort, due to the varying models of early childhood education in the different jurisdictions (McEwin and Ryan, 2009). The year before a child begins full-time schooling is further defined as Year 1 (or Grade 1) minus 2 years. This cohort may be a combination of 4, 5 and sometimes 6 year old children. The 6 year old children are usually children who are repeating preschool, or they may have been held back from starting preschool at the usual age.


Service management type

The preschool management type refers to the legal or social entity responsible for managing the service. National ECEC preschool data is presented based on ECEC National Minimum Data Set (ECEC NMDS) categories, which include government managed, community managed, independent, private-for-profit or other.

Data in Experimental Estimates of Preschool Education, Australia, 2010 (cat. no. 4240.0) is presented hierarchically, by government or non-government managed in accordance with the definition in the 2010 ECEC NMDS, which is as follows:

  • Government managed preschools include Australian, state and local government managed services. Government managed preschools may operate within a variety of settings depending on the jurisdiction, funding models and licensing regulations.
  • Non-government managed preschools include:
      • Community managed, including not-for-profit services provided or managed by parents, churches or co-operatives;
      • Private-for-profit, including for-profit services provided or managed by a company or private individual;
      • Independent school, including non-government schools that are governed, managed and accountable at the level of the individual school;
      • Other, including employer sponsored services.

For the 2010 National ECEC Collection, the ECEC NMDS categories for management type are based on a children's services background, which is distinct from an educational framework. Due to the diverse delivery models for preschool throughout Australia and the often difficult application of management type to a service, the ABS consulted with jurisdictions as to the most appropriate way to categorise services to align with the ECEC NMDS.

The National Schools Statistics Collection (NSSC) adopts a different distinction between government and non-government services which is based on licensing and legislation, rather than management type. The definitions for government and non-government services within the NSSC are as follows:
  • Government: comprises all establishments (as defined) administered by the department/ministry of education under directors-general of education (or equivalent) (as defined by membership of the Conference of Education Systems Chief Executive Officers (CESCEO)).
  • Non-government: comprises all such establishments not administered by the departments of education, including those establishments administered by any other government authority.

In future collections the ABS, in consultation with the AIHW and all jurisdictions, plans to review the current ECEC NMDS management type disaggregation and explore the relationship between the government and non-government definitions adopted for the NSSC, which may provide a more meaningful standard. This further work is aimed to assist jurisdictions to more accurately represent their services within appropriate categories, providing a representative and statistically accurate depiction of the provision of preschool within Australia.

For information on the jurisdictional inclusions adopted for the 2010 National ECEC Collection by management type within each jurisdiction, see Chapter 4, Jurisdictional Data Quality Statements.


Service activity type

The service activity type is the type of service provided by the children's service agency. Within a service provider setting, there may be one preschool program, multiple preschool programs or no preschool program. For example, a long day care (LDC) service may provide a preschool program as a sub-component of their service, therefore some children within that LDC would be receiving a preschool program, whereas others may not. This distinction is made by whether the program provided is a structured, play-based educational program, usually delivered by a qualified teacher.

The following categories are used in the National ECEC Collection, based on the ECEC NMDS. For the purposes of the National ECEC Collection, only services which provide a preschool program are in-scope. These categories can be used to determine whether or not a service is in-scope, as well as providing information on the service activity type. For example, only preschools, centre-based long day care, occasional care and family day care can provide a preschool program. Therefore, if a service is identified as outside school hours care, vacation care or in-home care, it would be out of scope of the collection.

Centre-based long day care

Centre-based long day care comprises services aimed primarily at 0-5 year olds that are provided in a centre usually by a mix of qualified and other staff. Educational, care and recreational programs are provided based on the developmental needs, interests and experience of each child. In some jurisdictions, primary school children may also receive care before and after school, and during school vacations.

Occasional care

Occasional care comprises services usually provided at a centre on an hourly or sessional basis for short periods or at irregular intervals for parents who need time to attend appointments, take care of personal matters, undertake casual and part time employment, study or have temporary respite from full time parenting. These services provide developmental activities for children and are aimed primarily at 0-5 year olds. Centres providing these services usually employ a mix of qualified and other staff.

Outside school hours care

Outside school hours care comprises services provided for school aged children (5-12 year olds) outside school hours during term. Care may be provided on student free days and when school finishes early. For the purposes of this collection vacation care is recorded separately.

Vacation care

Vacation care comprises services provided for school aged children (5-12 year olds) during vacation periods.

Family day care

Family day care comprises services provided in the carer’s own home. The care is largely aimed at 0-5 year olds, but primary school children may also receive care before and after school, and during school vacations. Central co-ordination units in all states and territories organise and support a network of carers, often with the help of local governments.

In-home care

In-home care comprises services where an approved carer provides care in the child’s home. Families eligible for in-home care include families where the parent/s or child has an illness or disability; families in rural or remote areas; parents working shift work or non-standard hours; families with more than two children from a multiple birth and/or more than two children under school age; and families where a breastfeeding mother is working from home.

Preschool

Preschool comprises a structured educational program usually provided by a qualified teacher on a sessional basis in dedicated preschools. Similar educational programs or curricula may be provided in long day care and other settings. These are primarily aimed at children in the year or two before they commence full-time schooling.


Service delivery setting

Service delivery setting refers to the type of setting in which the children's service activity can be provided. Children's services can be delivered in the following settings:

Centre-based - school

Centre-based (school) refers to child care or preschool services delivered on school grounds, using school facilities (e.g. a building owned by the school).

Centre-based - other

Centre-based (other) refers to a purpose built building or buildings where a child care or preschool service is delivered and the primary function of the building is non-residential (e.g. a child care centre, dedicated preschool etc.).

Home-based - child’s home

Home-based (child’s home) refers to a private residential dwelling where the child lives.

Home-based - other

Home-based (other) refers to a private residential dwelling where a child care or preschool service is delivered by someone other than the child’s parents, carers or guardians (e.g. a family day care caregiver’s house).

General community setting

General community setting refers to child care or preschool services delivered at a general community infrastructure facility (e.g. a park, neighbourhood house, community hall, libraries, etc.).


Counts of children

A key outcome of the National ECEC Collection is to collect data on children enrolled and attending preschool programs, as well as episodes of preschool enrolment and attendance. In order to accurately report on the number of children who have received early childhood education, a requirement of the National ECEC Collection is to count each child once. Given the complexity of the service delivery models for ECEC across Australia, it is a statistical challenge to identify children attending multiple preschool programs within the collection reference period and then to accurately report the number of children enrolled or attending in a preschool program. For the purpose of reporting on hours or fees, total hours and total fees are counted for children attending multiple preschool programs within or across sectors. Below is a summary of the different ways that a child could be counted more than once.

Across jurisdictions

When children and their families move interstate during the reference period, they may still be on the old preschool enrolment list as well as the new preschool enrolment list. This issue is more prominent when the two jurisdictions involved have different collection reference periods (i.e. one in April and one in August).

Cross border issues

Where a child is enrolled and attending two preschools in two separate jurisdictions (e.g. NSW and ACT). This could occur when a family lives near the state border and wish to increase their child's hours of preschool attendance.

Within a sector

Where a child is enrolled and attending two preschool programs within a sector. Duplicates could be present because a child’s family has decided to use two non-government services to increase their child's hours of preschool attendance.

Across sectors

Where a child is enrolled and attending two preschool programs across sectors. Duplicates may exist because a child’s family has chosen to use a combination of government preschool and a non-government preschool to increase their child's hours of preschool attendance.

Across time

Where a child attends preschool for more than one year (e.g. a child repeats preschool or is enrolled in an 'early entry' preschool program).

Identification of unique records can be resolved by application of a statistical linkage key and through consultation with jurisdictions. For the 2010 National ECEC Collection, removal of duplication was partially achieved for some jurisdictions, however, for other jurisdictions it was not achieved. See Chapter 4, Jurisdictional Data Quality Statements for jurisdictional specific assessments of duplication.


Episodes of enrolment/attendance at a preschool program

An episode is the count of the occurrence of a specific characteristic. For the National ECEC Collection, an episode refers to a preschool program provided to a child. When one child attends two different preschool programs, the child is attending two episodes of preschool.

For the 2010 National ECEC Collection, not all jurisdictions were able to provide enough detail from administrative systems to accurately provide counts of children. For this reason, episodes of preschool delivery (not counts of children) were only reported for some jurisdictions for 2010.





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