Quality in qualifications: how the childcare industry is changing
Posted February 24, 2014, by Julia Watters
The childcare landscape is changing, and with it the qualification standards for early childhood teaching. In 2012, the Australian government began implementing revised early childhood qualification requirements as part of the National Quality Framework (NQF).
In January of this year, further stages of the NQF were rolled out, continuing the initiative the government hopes will vastly improve quality of care and education standards for children prior to school. Implementation will continue until 2020, with the government establishing the Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) to ensure the framework targets, such as qualification level, educator-to-child ratios and other staffing requirements, are met.
While ACECQA will govern these changes on a national level, the responsibility for implementation and regulation will fall to each state government. There are seven ‘Quality Areas’ on which states will base their ongoing assessment, including: educational program and practice, children’s health and safety, physical environment, staffing arrangements, relationships with children, collaborative partnerships with families and communities, and leadership and services management.
As confusing as it may sound, the two main goals of the new National Framework Qualifications are essentially to boost staff to child ratios and improve the level of caregiver qualifications. Some of these changes have already been rolled out, with others yet to be implemented, depending on the state.
So what are the NQF requirements?
|Birth to 24 months||1 educator per 4 children|
|25 to 35 months||1 educator per 5 children|
|36 months to preschool/kinder||1 educator per 11 children|
Ratios for family day care services:
|Birth to 13 years||1 educator per 7 children|
As of January 2014, access to early childhood teachers will also come under scrutiny. In long day care and preschool centres with 25 children or less, there needs to be a qualified early childhood teacher present for a minimum of 20 per cent of the centre’s hours.
Where child numbers are 25 or higher, the centre needs to employ or engage an early childhood teacher for a minimum of six hours per day, when the centre is open more than 50 hours per week, and 60 per cent of the opening hours when the centre operates for less than 50 hours per week.
Long day care, preschools and family day care must also meet the following requirements:
- Half of all educators must either have or be working towards an approved diploma or higher level education and care qualification
- The remaining educators must either have or be working towards an approved certificate III or equivalent level education and care qualification
- All family day care coordinators will need to have an approved diploma level education and care qualification
- All family day care educators will need to have or be working towards an approved certificate III level education and care qualification
What does this mean for jobs?
If you are considering a role in early childhood education then the new regulations could be considered a blessing in disguise, as the more qualified you are, the higher your pay opportunities. With the increased pressure on long day care and preschool centres to provide more qualified staff comes more openings for higher paid roles within the childcare sector. For example, the award wage for an unqualified childcare worker just starting out is $636.40 per week, while the award wage for a diploma trained childcare worker is $815.70.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics forecasts that government policies such as the NQF and increasing birth rates will see employment opportunities in the childcare sector continue to rise.
If you are keen to pursue a career in childcare, you’ll need to gain the necessary qualifications so enrol in one of our listed online early childhood education courses to achieve your education career dreams.
For a comprehensive list of approved early childhood teaching, diploma and certificate III qualifications, visit the Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority website.