NQF Early Childhood Services

Legislation and what is covered

Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) services, approved under the Children (Education and Care Services National Law Application) Act 2010 and the Education and Care Services National Regulations, and operating under the National Quality Framework (NQF) include Preschools, Long Day Care, Family Day Care and Out of School Hours Care (OSHC) services. ECEC services for children under school age, operating under this legislation, offer an educational program and practice delivered in accordance with the Early Years Learning Framework. These approved services do not include Prep or Kindergarten minus 1 classes offered by a registered school as the first year of enrolment in that school.

Regulations and Programs Team
02 9299 2845

ACECQA, the National Quality Framework and the NSW Regulator

The Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) oversees the national implementation of the NQF, which is the application of the National Law and Regulations. The NQF covers the following areas:

  1. Approval for providers of education and care services
  2. Assessment and rating systems
  3. Offences, obligations and compliance
  4. Review processes
  5. Roles of regulatory authorities
  6. Records & privacy
  7. Transitional arrangements.

In NSW, the regulator for all approved ECEC services is the Department of Education's Early Childhood Education and Care Directorate (ECECD). In order to operate an ECEC service approved under the NQF, several regulatory approvals are required, including Provider Approval and Service Approval. The ECECD only accepts online applications for approvals and notifications which are submitted through ACECQA’s National Quality Agenda IT System (NQAITS).

All NQF services should ensure they are up to date with recent changes to NQF, which came into effect on 1 October 2017. The changes include the approved number of children to form a condition of service, removing supervisor certificates, changes to incident and allegation notification, complaint notification, definitions of serious incident and emergency and workforce issues – leave periods. A summary of the changes is available here, with more detail available through ACECQA.

National Quality Standard

As a requirement of the NQF, all approved ECEC services are assessed against the National Quality Standard and given a rating against seven quality areas, plus an overall rating. Ratings are published to provide parents and the community more information about individual services.

The seven areas for assessment are:

  1. Educational program and practice
  2. Children's health and safety
  3. Physical environment
  4. Staffing arrangements (including the number of staff looking after children)
  5. Relationships with children
  6. Collaborative partnerships with families and communities
  7. Leadership and service management

It is important for ECEC providers to refer to information from the NSW regulator for requirements for these areas, as there may be local variations from national requirements.

Changes to NQS come into effect on 1 February 2018, reducing the number of standards from 18 to 15, and reducing the elements from 58 to 40. More detail is available through the Decision Regulation Impact Statement (DRIS).

Relevant Documents


Relevant Links