AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND CARE
For the 2012 National ECEC collection, information on children attending a preschool program delivered by a degree qualified teacher in LDC settings was primarily provided by the Australian Government.
LDCs that provide preschool programs are known by a variety of nomenclature, such as kindergartens, preschools, child care centres, or early learning centres, however they are referred to within this manual as ‘LDCs’. The preschool programs delivered in these LDCs are called either kindergartens or preschools (depending on location of service delivery) however they are referred to within this manual as ‘preschool programs’.
The delivery of preschool programs, including those delivered in LDCs, varies within and across the different states and territories. These differences are outlined in the table below.
5.1 PRESCHOOL DELIVERY MODELS(a)
(a) Sourced from the Evaluation of the National Partnership on Early Childhood Education, Annual Progress Report 2010 (Urbis, 2010).
LEGISLATION AND LICENSING
|Model 1: Government Model (WA, SA, Tas., ACT & NT)||Model 2: Non-Government Model (NSW, Vic. & Qld.)|
|The state/territory government owns, funds and delivers the majority of preschool services.||The state/territory subsidises preschool programs that are provided by non-government organisations.|
|Preschools are treated in much the same way as primary and secondary schools.||Preschool programs delivered in LDC centres charge some fees and attract Australian Government funding through the CCB and CCR.|
|The state/territory may provide supplementary funding to preschools, but generally not to preschool programs delivered in LDC centres. These services attract Australian Government funding through the Child Care Benefit (CCB) and Child Care Rebate (CCR).||Under this model, the state/territory government owns less than 20% of preschool programs and these services are generally targeted at disadvantaged communities. This is in contrast to government schools, which are comprehensive.|
Authority for approving LDCs and providing funding comes from the provisions in:
- A New Tax System (Family Assistance)(Administration) Act 1999
- A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999.
The Australian Government and the state and territory governments are involved in the operation, funding and regulation of child care services. Each has a separate and vital role to play.
The key responsibilities of the Australian Government through the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) are to:
- administer CCB and CCR to families through the Family Assistance Office (FAO)
- administer payment of CCB and CCR to approved services
- administer financial support to approved services in areas of need. These costs may be shared between state or territory governments and the Australian Government
- maintain some statistical data on the supply of child care places.
State and territory governments have prime responsibility for family support, child welfare and the regulation of child care services. These regulatory responsibilities include licensing in all states and territories for centre based LDC.
From 1 January 2012, most LDCs commenced operation under the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care (the ‘Framework’). The new Framework replaced all licensing, accreditation and quality assurance processes for most LDC, family day care, preschool (or kindergarten) and outside of school hours care services, which were previously undertaken by the states and territories and the Australian Government. Under the Framework, approval and regulation of LDCs approved for CCB now occurs through an applied laws system which has been enacted in all jurisdictions, comprising the Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010 and the Education and Care Services National Regulations 2011. The Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority is the independent statutory authority responsible for ensuring that services are meeting the new requirements as set out in the Framework.
Further information on the Framework can be found on the DEEWR website: <http://www.deewr.gov.au/earlychildhood/policy_agenda/quality/pages/home.aspx