4402.0 - Childhood Education and Care, Australia, June 2008 (Reissue)  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/07/2009   
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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 2008 as a supplement to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS).

2 The CEaCS collected information on:

  • usual care arrangements (for type of care, hours and cost)
  • care arrangements used in the survey reference week (for type of care, hours and cost)
  • usual attendance at a preschool
  • attendance at a preschool in the survey reference week
  • usual attendance at a preschool program in long day care
  • need for any/additional formal care or preschool
  • other early childhood education and learning information (the types of learning activities that children aged 0-8 years engage in, the environments in which these activities take place, and patterns of attendance at preschool and school).

3 The main aims of the survey were to provide estimates of:
  • child care arrangements for children aged 0-12 years
  • early childhood education and learning for children aged 0-8 years
  • some aspects of families' requirements for formal care or preschool
  • the education, income and working arrangements of parents with children aged 0-12 years.

4 From 1969 to 2005 the ABS conducted 12 Child Care Surveys (CCS). The main aims of those surveys was to provide information on the use and cost of child care (related to care usage in the survey reference week), and some aspects of families' requirements for formal care or preschool. The 2008 CEaCS added to reference week observations by also collecting the usual attendance characteristics of care and preschool attendance, as well as new measures of early childhood education and learning.

5 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 telephone interviewing relevant to both the LFS and supplementary surveys. From April 2001 the LFS has been conducted using a redesigned questionnaire containing additional questions and some minor definitional changes. These changes, described in Information Paper: Implementing the Redesigned Labour Force Survey Questionnaire (cat. no. 6295.0) will have had only a very minor effect on the labour force status of parents reflected in the time series table 25 in this publication.


6 The scope of 2008 CEaCS was Australian resident children aged 0-12 years and their families living in private dwellings in non-remote Australia. The survey therefore excludes:
  • any non-resident children visiting Australia (children of diplomatic personnel of overseas governments, members of non-Australian defence forces stationed in Australia, or non-residents otherwise visiting Australia)
  • residents of non-private dwellings such as hospitals, hotels and motels.

7 The 2008 CEaCS also excluded, for practical coverage reasons, families where both parents/guardians were either members of the Australian permanent defence forces, or were temporarily overseas, or away from home for an extended period (See Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) for more detail). However, as long as at least one parent in the household was in scope for the LFS, information about children aged 0-12 years and some information about their parents were able to be included in the 2008 CEaCS. For example, the results include estimates for 25,000 children aged 0-12 years for whom information about their care and early childhood education and learning were obtained from the estimated 14,000 partners of currently serving Australian permanent defence forces personnel. However, no employment information was available for the estimated 21,000 children aged 0-12 years for whom one of their parents was away from home for an extended period.

8 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 persons will have only a minor impact on any aggregate estimates that are produced for individual states and territories, except in the Northern Territory where such persons account for around 23% of the population.


9 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.

10 There was an overall reduction in the survey sample from the June 2005 Child Care Survey to the June 2008 CEaCS of 16%. This reduction is due in part to the usual sample reductions that occur as part of the LFS redesign following each Census - the redesign based on the 2006 Census was implemented over the period November 2007 to June 2008. After redesign the LFS sample size grows each year as the population grows until the next redesign. A reduction of about 5% in the June 2008 CEaCS sample from the June 2005 Child Care Survey sample is due to this redesign, which will generally have no impact on the quality of CEaCS estimates. However, in developing the 2006 LFS sample design, the ABS also implemented further sampling efficiencies resulting from the introduction of a new estimation method (for details of this method refer to Information Paper: Forthcoming Changes to Labour Force Statistics, 2007 (cat. no. 6292.0)). This enabled a further 11% reduction in the LFS sample size with only minor reductions in data quality, relative to the previous design, for employment estimates at the national and state and territory level. For other estimates, such as those compiled from CEaCS, the quality has not been maintained because the new LFS estimation method does not provide the same efficiency gains to supplementary surveys, and standard errors are therefore higher.

Table 1 - CEaCS Sample Distribution


2 359
2 110
2 071
1 672
2 016
1 557
1 168
1 417
1 095
10 228
8 562


11 Information was obtained through interviews conducted over a two-week period between 9-21 June 2008. Information about usual child care arrangements and usual preschool attendance is affected by the specific timing of data collection, the age of the child at that time, and state policies on age eligibility for enrolment at school and preschool which affect the likelihood of a child being enrolled at the time of the survey.

12 For information on survey reference week measures, in all states and territories except Tasmania, data were collected on the use of child care and attendance at preschool related to the week prior to the interview (the survey reference week, chosen to avoid school holidays). In Tasmania, where school holidays were earlier than in other jurisdictions, respondents were asked to recall child care usage and preschool attendance related to the period 26 May to 1 June 2008.

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, step-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: number attending child care and/or preschool; CCB arrangements; and the cost of formal care, informal care and preschool.

14 This sampling methodology is similar to that used in 2002 and 2005. However, in 2005, in selected households with more than two children aged 0-12 years, two children were randomly selected from across all families in the household i.e. children could have been selected from two different families within a multi-family household. Different sampling methodologies were used in surveys prior to 2002. In 1999 a small set of information was collected for each of the 3rd, 4th and 5th children in the household and the sampling methodology used in 1996 survey, where a complete set of childcare information was collected for all children resident in a selected household.


15 Two major changes were made to the 2008 CEaCS.
  • Information was collected for the first time about usual child care and/or preschool attendance, cost and hours. Previous surveys only collected information about child care and/or preschool attendance, cost and hours in the survey reference week. The 2008 CEaCS therefore provides information to enable an understanding of children's usual pattern of child care and/or preschool attendance, cost, and hours (especially for those children who for whatever reason did not attend care in the reference week but usually attended care). With the exception of tables presenting time series data, tables in this publication present child care and preschool attendance on a usual basis, although some comparisons between usual usage/attendance and reference week usage/attendance are provided in the summary of findings.
  • New information on early childhood education and learning was collected for the first time:
      • For children already attending school, information was collected on participation and non-participation in preschool education programs (whether provided in a preschool or in long day care) prior to attending school; and the extent to which the preschool teachers or carers had communicated to parents about their child's progress and learning goals at preschool or long day care. Information was also collected on: the child's health; whether they received any remedial assistance related to their development; and adjustment to and progress at school.
      • For children aged 3-6 years not yet attending school, information was collected on the types of formal learning activities they participated in, including: attendance at a preschool or in a preschool program in long day care; the type (government/non-government) of preschool attended; as well as patterns of attendance. The extent to which the preschool teachers/carers communicated to parents about their child's current progress and learning goals at preschool or long day care was also collected. For children who did not attend an early childhood program, information was collected on why they did not attend and whether there were any barriers to attendance.
      • For children aged 0-8 years, information was collected about the child's participation in informal learning activities at home or elsewhere (excluding formal learning environments). A particular focus was on reading (and being read to) and whether parents or anyone else were actively involved in these learning activities.

16 The following changes were also made to the 2008 CEaCS:
  • Preschool information was only asked for children aged 3-6 who did not attend school.
  • Long day care and occasional care attendance were only asked for children who did not attend school.
  • Before and/or after school care was only asked for children who attended school.
  • A number of changes were made to the questions on requirements for any/additional formal care or preschool which aimed at improving the measure of current requirements by asking parents separately about their current and their expected future needs for formal care or preschool. In previous surveys parents were only asked about their requirements for formal care or preschool in the previous four weeks. The 2008 CEaCS was also the first ABS survey to ask parents who have a current requirement whether they had taken active steps to try and find the child care or preschool they required, including:
      • Whether enquiries were made about the availability of any/additional formal care or preschool;
      • Whether they had applied for any/additional formal care or preschool; and
      • Whether parents would have used any/additional formal care or preschool if it became available in the next four weeks.
      • Improvements were made to the collection of summary information for children in the family other than the two selected children, to allow total cost for the family to be reported separately for formal care, informal care and preschool.

17 Additional content was collected in the survey including:
  • Main reason attended preschool/long day care for less than usual number of hours last week;
  • Hours paid for, to improve the measure of cost per hour of care;
  • Eligibility for primary school and reasons for not attending school if eligible;
  • Type of care attended during previous school holidays;
  • Parental educational attainment and participation, including: highest non-school qualification of female parent/guardian and male parent/guardian; field of highest non-school qualification of female parent/guardian and male parent/guardian; and highest year of school completed by female parent/guardian and male parent/guardian.


18 In 2007 the Queensland government introduced a Preparatory year of schooling prior to Year 1. This has had a significant impact on the number of children aged 3-6 years who attended preschool in Queensland in June 2008, with the proportion of children attending preschool in that state falling from 22% in 2005 to 10% in 2008 (see table 24 in this publication). This change needs to be noted when making comparisons of preschool attendance over time both at the state and national levels.

19 To minimise the reporting load on families, in CEaCS in June 2008 parental educational attainment and participation information was only collected from those households entering the LFS in June 2008. For the remaining CEaCS sample in June 2008, parental education data had been collected in the May 2008 LFS supplementary survey, the Survey of Education and Work, and these data were used in CEaCS. For 7% of parents in CEaCS, education data could not be matched or was otherwise unavailable.

20 Care needs to be taken when comparing the 2008 CEaCS data with other surveys or administrative data, as the CEaCS collects child care and preschool attendance patterns both on a usual basis and in a survey reference week at a point in time (i.e June 2008) compared to other data sources that are often collected on an annual or quarterly basis.

21 Information about the working arrangements used by parent/guardians to help care for their child was not available for parent/guardians who were out of scope of the labour force for any reason, including parent/guardians who were members of the permanent Australian Defence Force.


22 The weighting methodology for the 2008 CEaCS is the same as that used for the 2005 Child Care Survey. This methodology differs slightly from that used in the 2002 Child Care survey. In 2002, 2005 and 2008, the method for determining the family level weights for the survey initially involved household composition benchmarks which take account of the number of adults and children under 15 in each household. The household composition benchmarks were further refined to the age scope of children in the survey i.e. children aged under 13 years. For the June 2002 Child Care Survey this refinement to the benchmarks used sample count proportions from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) in June 2002. The June 2005 Child Care Survey and June 2008 CEaCS used the weighted proportions from the June 2005 LFS and the June 2008 LFS respectively for this refinement. Further, in 2005 and 2008, person level benchmarks were used in addition to the household composition benchmarks in deriving the family weights.


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

24 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). Families using registered care can claim their CCB within twelve months of the care being provided upon production of receipts.

25 Families who receive the CCB for approved care may also be eligible to receive the Child Care Tax Rebate (CCTR) which was introduced in December 2005. The CCTR covers a percentage of out-of-pocket expenses for approved child care. As at June 2008, the maximum amount claimable per child per financial year was $4,354. Out of pocket expenses are total child care fees less CCB. For the 2007-2008 financial year, the CCTR coverage percentage was 30%. See the following section on cost of care for more information about the impact of the CCB and CCTR on the CEaCS measure. For more information on different types of family assistance, see <http://www.familyassist.gov.au>.


26 Within this publication, cost of care is reported as the net cost of care to the parents after the CCB and CCTR have been deducted.

27 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 2008 CEaCS prompt families to report the out of pocket amount they have paid to the child care service provider after CCB.

28 In a minority of cases, where parents have claimed or intend 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 and the Child Care Service Handbook 2007-2008 provided by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. 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 and 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.

29 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); and
  • the parent met the CCB work, study and training test, which is required for CCB in relation to registered care and is required for CCB in excess of 20 hours care per week for approved care.

30 It has also been assumed that if families received the CCB or were intending to claim the CCB for approved care then they would also be eligible for the CCTR paid in the 2007/2008 financial year as an annual lump sum through the the Family Assistance Office at the end of that financial year. 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 CCTR, care should be taken when using estimates of cost of care data presented in this publication.


31 The 2008 CEaCS and its CCS predecessors, collected information to support investigations of overall requirements for formal child care and preschool services. In this publication the summary measure of requirements for any/additional formal care or preschool has been redeveloped to include measures on 'current need' as well as expected 'future need'. These measures are shown in table 10 and they refer to parents whose child is or is not using any child care or preschool services currently and who require a service currently and/or in the future.

32 The measure of 'current need' for any/additional formal care or preschool supports comparisons between population subgroups of requirements for formal child care or preschool. It is not an indicator of the required number of additional child care or preschool places and should not be misinterpreted as referring to 'the number of children on waiting lists for child care or preschool' or 'the actual number of additional child care or preschool places required' or as a definitive measure of unmet need for formal child care or preschool.

33 Even though improvements have been made in the CEaCS to the 'current need' measure it still does not indicate the conditions under which the interest in using a service would become effective. For example, the cost of the care and how that might affect its use, or how the location of the service might influence a parent's ability to or willingness to make use of the service. Other factors such as service type, quality of care, and flexibility of access over different periods of time are also complexities that may influence a person's decision to use a child care or preschool service for their child. Assessing levels of demand for child care or preschool places must therefore be more specific about such conditions.


34 Estimates in this publication are subject to sampling and non-sampling errors:
  • sampling error is the difference between the published estimate and the value that would have been produced if all dwellings had been included in the survey. For more information see the Technical Note.
  • non-sampling errors are inaccuracies that occur because of imperfections in reporting by respondents and interviewers, and errors made in coding and processing data. These inaccuracies may occur in any enumeration whether it be a full count or a sample. Every effort is made to reduce the non-sampling error to a minimum by careful design of questionnaires, intensive training and supervision of interviewers, and efficient processing procedures.


35 The ABS plans to conduct this survey again in June 2011.


36 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.


37 An electronic version of the tables released in this publication, in spreadsheet format, will be available on the ABS web site (see www.abs.gov.au, cat. no. 4402.0). The spreadsheets present the estimates, proportions and related RSE's for each publication table.

Data item list

38 A full list of data items available for the survey is available on the ABS web site entry for this publication (see www.abs.gov.au, cat. no. 4402.0).

State/territory tabulations

39 Selected tables from this publication, compiled at the state and territory level will be available as spreadsheets on the ABS web site. These tables will be customised depending on the size of the sampling error (see www.abs.gov.au, cat. no. 4402.0).


40 For users who wish to undertake more detailed analysis of the survey data, microdata is available in the form of a confidentialised unit record file (CURF) (cat. no. 4402.0.55.001). The CURF is only available via the Remote Access Data Laboratory (RADL), which is a secure Internet-based data query service. Technical information describing the content and use of the CURF is available in a Technical Manual (cat. no. 4402.0.55.002).

41 A full range of up-to-date information about the availability of ABS CURFs and about applying for access to CURFs is available via this web site www.abs.gov.au (see Services We Provide, Confidentialised Unit Record Files (CURFs)). Inquiries to the ABS Microdata Access Strategies Section should be made by e-mail: microdata.access@abs.gov.au, or telephone (02) 6252 7714.

Special data services

42 The ABS offers specialist consultancy services to assist clients with more complex statistical information needs. Clients may wish to have the unit record data analysed according to their own needs, or require tailored tables incorporating data items and populations as requested by them. Tables and other analytical outputs can be made available electronically or in printed form. However, as the level of detail or disaggregation increases with detailed requests, the number of contributors to data cells decreases. This may result in some requested information not being able to be released due to confidentiality or sampling variability constraints. All specialist consultancy services attract a service charge, and clients will be provided with a quote before information is supplied. For further information, contact ABS information consultants on 1300 135 070.


43 Current publications and other products released by the ABS are available on the ABS web site www.abs.gov.au. Other ABS products which may be of interest include:
  • Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0) September 2008.
  • Australian Social Trends (cat. no. 4102.0) March 2009.
  • Barriers and Incentives to Labour Force Participation, Australia, July 2006 to June 2007 (cat. no. 6239.0).
  • Child Care, Australia, June 2005 (cat. no. 4402.0) Second Reissue.
  • Children, Australia: A Social Report, 1999 (cat. no. 4119.0) Updated 20 June 2006.
  • Family Characteristics & Transitions, Australia, 2006-07, (cat. no. 4442.0).
  • Household and Family Projections, Australia, 2001-2026 (cat. no. 3236.0).
  • Persons Not in the Labour Force, Australia, Septermber, 2008 (cat. no. 6220.0).