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Childhood Education and Care, Australia

Information on children aged 0-12 years and their families, including use of formal and informal care

Reference period
June 2017

Key findings

​​​​​​​Care usually attended

Image 1: children aged 0 to 12 years attending care
Three graphs containing data about children aged 0 to 12 years attending care in Australia from 2011 to 2017.

Graph 1 shows 2011 overall care usage at 52.2%. This proportion is made up of Formal care only at 13.6%, Informal care only at 28.5% and Using both at 10.1%.
Graph 2 shows 2014 overall care usage at 48.1%. This proportion is made up of Formal care only at 15.3%, Informal care only at 24.2% and Using both at 8.5%.
Graph 3 shows 2017 overall care usage at 49.3%. This proportion is made up of Formal care only at 17.4%, Informal care only at 22.2% and Using both at 9.7%.

The proportion of children aged 0 to 12 years who usually attended formal and/or informal care decreased from 2011 (52.2%) to 2014 (48.1%) and was about the same in 2017 (49.3%). Breaking this down into the various care arrangements:

  • Use of Formal care only (e.g. Long day care) increased slowly from 13.6% in 2011 to 15.3% in 2014, then to 17.4% in 2017.
  • Use of Informal care only (e.g. grandparents) decreased slightly from 28.5% in 2011 to 24.5% in 2014, to 22.2% in 2017.
  • The proportion of children using a combination of both formal and informal care changed little from 10.1% in 2011, dipping to 8.5% in 2014, then rebounding to 9.7% in 2017.
     

Care attended last week

ABS data on the use of care back to 1996 shows little change in the use of care in the week before the survey (Endnote A) by children aged 0 to 11 years (Endnote B). The proportion of children in care in 1996 was 45% while it was 47% in 2017.

Over this longer time period, some interesting trends include:

  • The proportion of children in formal care increased gradually from 9% in 1996 to 19% in 2017.
  • The proportion of children in informal care decreased gradually from 31% in 1996 to 19% in 2017.
  • The proportion of children using a package of both formal and informal care increased slightly from 6% in 1996 to 9% in 2017.
     
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Costs and hours of care

Image 2: rising costs of childcare
Two graphs containing data about rising costs of childcare from 2011 to 2017.

Graph 1 shows mean cost after subsidies per week in 2011 was $74.30, in 2014 was $100.50 and in 2017 was $110.50. In 2017 dollars, adjusted using changes in the Consumer Price Index.
Graph 2 shows mean hours per week in 2011 was 15.2 hours, in 2014 was 16 hours and in 2017 was 16 hours.

After adjusting for inflation, the average usual weekly cost of formal care (after subsidies) (Endnote C) increased from $74.30 in 2011 to $110.50 in 2017, however the average usual weekly hours were about the same over the period. (Tables 6 & 8)

Endnotes

Endnote A: Prior to 2008 the survey collected data for the child's week prior to the survey (also known as last week). In 2008 the survey collected data for the child's usual week. Some time-series going back to 2008 for the child's usual week are supplemented by time-series going back to 1996 for the child's week prior to the survey (also known as last week).

Endnote B: Prior to 2005 the survey included families with children aged 0 to 11 years. From 2005 the survey included families with children aged 0 to 12 years. Some time-series going back to 2005 for children aged 0 to 12 years are supplemented by time-series going back to 1996 for children aged 0 to 11 years.

Endnote C: The subsidies that were available to eligible families were the Child Care Benefit and the Child Care Rebate.

Summary of findings

Table 1 - Key indicators, childhood education and care, Australia, 2011, 2014 and 2017

Indicator   Year Differences
  20112014(a)2017(a)2011 to 20172014 to 2017
Children aged 0-12 years
 Usually attended care
  Children using formal and/or informal care52.2%48.1%49.3%-2.9pts(c)1.2pts
   Only using formal care(d)13.6%15.3%17.4%3.8pts2.1pts
   Only using informal care(d)28.5%24.2%22.2%-6.3pts-2.0pts
   Using both formal and informal care10.1%8.5%9.7%(c)-0.4pts(c)1.2pts
  All children using formal care(e)23.7%23.9%27.2%3.5pts3.3pts
  All children using informal care(e)38.6%32.7%31.9%-6.7pts(c)-0.8pts
 Hours and cost per child who attended formal care usually
  Mean hours per week15.2hrs(b)16.0hrs16.0hrs(c)0.8hrs(c)0.0hrs
  Mean cost (after subsidies) per week(f)(g)$74.30(b)$100.50$110.50$36.20$10.00
  Mean cost (after subsidies) per hour(f)(g)$5.50(b)$7.20$8.00$2.50$0.80
 Requirements for additional formal care or preschool
  Additional formal care or preschool currently required5.6%10.0%9.3%3.7pts(c)-0.7pts
   Additional formal care currently required4.1%6.5%6.2%2.1pts(c)-0.3pts
   Additional preschool currently required1.8%4.6%4.0%2.2pts(c)-0.6pts
  Additional formal care or preschool not currently required94.4%90.0%90.7%-3.7pts(c)0.7pts
Families with children aged 0-12 years
 Usually attended care
  Formal and/or informal care62.8%59.3%57.6%-5.2pts(c)-1.7pts
   Only using formal care(d)21.1%22.1%21.7%(c)0.6pts(c)-0.4pts
   Only using informal care(d)31.1%27.3%21.7%-9.4pts-5.6pts
   Using both formal and informal care16.9%14.5%14.1%-2.8pts(c)-0.4pts
 Costs for families with children who attended formal care usually
  Mean cost (after subsidies) per week(f)(g)$99.40(b)$132.80$148.40$49.00$15.60
 Use of flexible work arrangements by employed parents to care for children
  Male parent used work arrangements40.4%41.4%42.3%(c)1.9pts(c)0.9pts
  Female parent used work arrangements74.3%70.8%69.5%-4.8pts(c)-1.3pts
a. Data has been randomly adjusted to avoid the release of confidential data. Discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals.
b. Perturbation was not applied to these estimates
c. The difference between periods is not statistically significant. See the Significance Testing article in this publication for more information: https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/6227.0.55.002
d. The proportion that only use this type of care.
e. The proportion that use this type of care, regardless of whether they also use other types of care.
f. The subsidies that were available to eligible families were the Child Care Benefit and the Child Care Rebate.
g. In 2017 dollars, adjusted using changes in the Consumer Price Index.
 

Use of care

Children aged 2 or 3 years are the most likely to attend formal and/or informal care (71.8% and 71.1% respectively); while children aged under 1 year are the least likely to attend care (30%). (Table 1)

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Children aged 2 or 3 years are the most likely to attend formal care only (37.2% and 37.6% respectively). Use of informal care is more common for older children. (Table 1)

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The most common types of care usually attended for children aged 0 to 12 years who who attend school are Grandparents (18.6%) and Before and/or after school care (14.8%). The most common types of care for children who don't attend school are Long day care (36.9%) and Grandparents (25.8%).

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Employment and care

For children aged 0 to 12 years in couple families, children usually attend formal care more when both parents are employed (35%), than when one parent is employed (16%) or neither parent is employed (13%). (Table 3)

For children aged 0 to 12 years in one parent families, children usually attend formal care more when the parent is employed (34%) than when the parent is not employed (16%). (Table 3)

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Use of flexible work arrangements to care for children by employed parents

The use of flexible work arrangements to care for children aged 0 to 12 years decreased for female parents between 2011 (74.3%) and 2017 (69.5%) (Endnote B).

The use of flexible work arrangements to care for children aged 0 to 11 years (Endnote B):

  • Increased for male parents between 1996 and 2008, then was steady from 2008 to 2017.
  • Increased for female parents between 1996 and 2005, but then decreased from 2011 to 2017.
     
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Costs and hours of care

After adjusting for inflation, the mean cost per week (after subsidies) (Endnote D) of usually attending formal care increased from $74.30 in 2011, to $100.50 in 2014, then to $110.50 in 2017. The average hours attended per week stayed about the same between 2011 and 2017. (Tables 6, 8 & 11)

Requirements for additional formal care or preschool

Additional preschool or formal care is currently required by 9.3% of children aged 0 to 12 years. The main types of additional care currently required by children aged 0 to 12 years are:

  • Formal care (6.2%).
  • Preschool (4.0%).


Children aged 0 to 12 years are more likely to require additional preschool or formal care if they already usually attend formal care or preschool (17.3%) than if they only usually attend informal care (6.8%), or if they did not usually attend care or preschool (4.9%). (Table 17)

Children aged 0 to 12 years are more likely to require additional formal care or preschool when their female parent is unemployed (22.2%), than when they are employed (8.3%) or not in the labour force (10.1%). Children require about the same amount of additional formal care or preschool regardless of the labour force status of their male parent.

​​​​​​​Additional formal care needs

The main type of additional formal care that is required by children aged 0 to 12 years who attend school is Before and/or after school care (84.9%), while children who don't attend school are most likely to require additional Long day care (76.2%).

The most common reason that children require additional before and/or after school care is work-related (84.5%); whereas the most common reasons children require additional long day care are work-related (61.8%) and for the benefit of the child (55.6%). (Table 18)

Parental involvement in informal learning activities

Children aged 0 to 2 years are more likely than children aged 3 to 8 years not to have participated in any informal learning activities with their parents in the last week (8.2% and 0.9% respectively). (Table 19 & 20)

The most common informal learning activity children aged 0 to 2 years did with their parents was Read from a book or told a story at 83.6%. For children aged 3 to 8 years, the most common informal learning activity was Told stories, read or listened to the child read at 95.4%. The proportion for children aged 0 to 2 years was lower than for children aged 3 to 8 years (noting the activities are slightly different). However, children aged 0 to 2 years were more likely than children aged 3 to 8 years to have had their parents read from a book or tell a story every day in the last week (57.2% compared with 47.8%). (Table 19 & 20)

Children aged 0 to 2 years who were born in Australia were more likely to have had parents read from a book and tell a story (83.8%) than children who were not born in Australia (62.8%). However, children aged 3 to 8 years were similarly likely to have had parents who Told stories, read or listened to the child read, regardless of whether they were born in Australia or not.

Endnotes

Endnote B: Prior to 2005 the survey included families with children aged 0 to 11 years. From 2005 the survey included families with children aged 0 to 12 years. Some time-series going back to 2005 for children aged 0 to 12 years are supplemented by time-series going back to 1996 for children aged 0 to 11 years.

Endnote C: The subsidies that were available to eligible families were the Child Care Benefit and the Child Care Rebate.

Data downloads

Tables 1-22: Childhood education and care

Time series — Children aged 0-11 years: type of care attended last week, by age of child

Time series — Children aged 3-6 years who attended preschool last week: characteristics of preschool attendance

Time series — Children aged 3-6 years who attended preschool last week: characteristics of children and their families

Time series — Families with children aged 0-11 years: flexible work arrangements to care for children

Childhood education and care, New South Wales

Childhood education and care, Victoria

Childhood education and care, Queensland

Childhood education and care, South Australia

Childhood education and care, Western Australia

Childhood education and care, Tasmania

Childhood education and care, Northern Territory

Childhood education and care, Australian Capital Territory

Table title concordance - CEaCS 2017 to 2014

Data item list

All data cubes

Survey material

CEACS 2017 Questionnaire

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 4402.0