DATA QUALITY STATEMENT
In 2013, South Australia (SA) was responsible for one data collection in relation to preschool programs, the Annual Census of Children’s Services (ACCS).
Annual Census of Children’s Services
The organisation responsible for the ACCS is SA Department for Education and Child Development (DECD). Data for the ACCS were collected under the Education Act 1972 (SA) and the Education Regulations 1997 (SA).
Information gathered by the ACCS included patterns of service usage and characteristics of children and families. The data were required by the SA Government for forward planning and the analysis of needs and gaps in current service provision. The data from this collection enabled reporting across the SA early childhood education and care sector for a variety of reporting requirements.
Scope: The scope of the 2013 ACCS included children aged 3 to 5 years (extending to 6 years old for a small number of children who were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin, or children under the guardianship of the Minister for Education and Child Development who may start preschool after their third birthday and are entitled to up to 480 hours of preschool in the two years before full-time school) attending government managed or government funded preschools, including integrated centres, and funded non-government community managed child care centres with a preschool program.
The scope of data provided on workers included all paid workers employed in government managed or government funded preschools, including integrated centres, and funded non-government child care centres and schools with a preschool program. Data on workers includes workers who are usually present to deliver a face to face preschool program, but may have been absent due to illness or extended holiday and are expected to return.
Coverage: In 2013, the ACCS achieved full coverage of all government managed and government funded preschools, including Independent and Catholic schools with funded preschool programs, and funded non-government community managed child care centres with a preschool program. The numbers of non-government community managed LDCs with a preschool program that receive government funding have grown steadily since 2012.
Unfunded Independent and Catholic school managed preschool providers and Long Day Care (LDC) centres are not invited to participate in the ACCS. There are a relatively small percentage of South Australian children who have received a preschool program delivered by one of these unfunded services.
Data collection methods: The 2013 ACCS collected URL data for the following statistical entities:
- Child: data at the child record level
- Service provider organisation: data at the service provider record level
- Worker: data at the worker record level
The ACCS is an annual collection and in 2013 was undertaken on the 2 August 2013 with a reference period of 22 July to 2 August 2013. This reference fortnight was adopted by SA DECD to reflect the preschool delivery model in SA. Information collected during this reference fortnight was then derived by SA DECD to a one week reference period to enable comparison with other jurisdictions for the Collection.
The data processing and validation stages took approximately 2 to 3 months after the collection date, at which time the data were delivered to the ABS.
Data sourced from the ACCS for the purpose of the Collection are published by the ABS in Preschool Education, Australia, 2013
(cat. no. 4240.0).
In 2013, the ACCS collected data through the use of two systems, one for non-government preschool providers and the other for DECD preschools. The ‘Early Years System’ (EYS) is a web-based preschool administration system used by DECD preschools in SA. For non-government preschool providers that are funded by DECD, the Non-Government Preschool Data System (NGPDS) was developed and implemented in time for the ACCS.
The NGPDS has been developed as a web-based preschool data reporting system that serves the dual purpose of collecting data requirements for grant funding administration as well as to satisfy State and National reporting obligations. Both the EYS and NGPDS have been developed with the capability of importing data from other administrative systems (eg. Child Care Management Systems) to provide the facility of reducing respondent burden and input error. Both the EYS and NGPDS have validation rules built in to ensure that services are submitting accurate data that is compliant with the 2013 ECEC NMDS.
SA DECD collated data collected from both systems using a data repository known as the Early Childhood Data System or Data Administration Centre (DAC). The DAC allows for Data Management and Reporting staff to administer a data collection and to run checks and validations on the data received from service providers. Service provider details are stored and maintained in the location services system (LSS) and some data for the 2013 Collection were sourced from LSS.
For the purposes of the Collection, most data collected through the 2013 ACCS were comparable with 2012 data. Due to systems developments and subsequent data improvements, some data collected in 2013 may not be comparable to 2012 data.
DECD is transitioning to a single intake preschool enrolment policy in 2013 that in 2014 children are entitled to access four terms of preschool in the year before they start school as follows:
- If a child turns four years of age before 1 May, they may start preschool in Term 1 in that year
- If a child turns four years of age on or after 1 May, they are eligible to start preschool from the beginning of Term 1 in the following year.
The 2013 transitional arrangements for this new enrolment policy were as follows:
Counts of Children:
- During Term 1 2013, children that have turned four years of age by 29 January 2013 may be enrolled to commence on the first day of Term 1.
- During Term 2 2013, children that have turned four years of age before 1 May 2013 may be enrolled to commence on the first day of Term 2. A preschool may make individual arrangements for this group of children to be offered additional hours to be completed in Terms 3 and 4 of 2013, thereby offering the equivalent of four terms of preschool over three terms.
- There were no children enrolled to commence preschool in Term 3 or 4 of 2013.
It is possible for a child to be concurrently enrolled in and attending two or more preschool programs and attend preschool across years. In order to address collection requirements, it is important to be able to accurately identify matched episode records for a child, both within a collection cycle and between years.
Children in a Preschool Program in 2013:
For SA, counts of children enrolled in and attending preschool programs in 2013 were able to be derived as data were collected using a consistent URL data collection methodology.
Children in a Preschool Program in 2013 and in the Year before Full-time Schooling:
As SA had two years of data collected using a URL methodology and had a child/client database, counts of children enrolled in and attending preschool programs in the year before full-time schooling were able to be derived. When the ACCS was conducted in August 2013, DECD preschools and some non-government preschool providers were operating with an estimated average of 79% of usual enrolments resulting from the one-off impact of transitioning from a termly intake to a single intake preschool enrolment policy. This is due to there not being an intake of children to replace the children transitioning from preschool to school at the end of Term 2 2013. All children in their year before full-time schooling would have been aged 4 or 5 years old as July 1 2013.
SA provided a range of information to assist in the reporting of data, such as the 2013 ACCS Booklet and Coding Instructions. Key material was provided in the form of manuals and fact sheets to support the correct interpretation and explanation of concepts. The NGPDS is an intuitive system and user training has been provided via a webpage that contains user guides, video tutorials, and ACCS instructions. A dedicated EYS/NGPDS Support Team was in place to support users with technical issues or queries with either the EYS or NGPDS and the Data Management and Reporting team were available to respond to any data related questions.
Data sourced from the ACCS for the 2013 Collection are published at the state and territory level in Preschool Education, Australia, 2013
(cat. no. 4240.0) on the ABS website.
The information contained within this repost has been sourced from SA DECD in consultation with the ABS. Further information is available on the SA DECD website <http://www.decd.sa.gov.au>.