Early childhood education and care is delivered by approved providers and services. The Australian Government subsidises the cost of care. State and territory governments ensure the health, safety, wellbeing and educational outcomes of children.
On this page:
What does the Australian Government do?
Child Care Subsidy
The Australian Government, through the Department of Education and Services Australia, administers the Child Care Subsidy (CCS). Providers must be approved by the department to receive CCS.
The department is also responsible for the legislation that underpins CCS. This legislation is called Family Assistance Law (FAL). All providers that receive CCS must follow the rules under FAL. The department monitors providers’ compliance with FAL.
Services Australia provides frontline services so families can receive CCS.
The department also runs grant programs for disadvantaged, regional, remote and Indigenous communities.
Find out more about grant programs
The Australian Government funds states and territories to deliver preschool. The department delivers this through a funding agreement. Preschool is available to children in the year before school.
Find out more about preschool funding
Closing the Gap
We’re investing in measures to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children through better access to quality early childhood education and care.
Learn about Closing the Gap in early childhood education and care
What do state and territory governments do?
National Quality Framework
State and territory governments are responsible for the health, safety, wellbeing and educational outcomes of children.
State-based education departments do this under National Law through the National Quality Framework (NQF). The NQF sets the rules for how education and care is delivered to children. The NQF includes two nationally approved learning frameworks that support and promote children’s learning.
Providers must be approved by their state government to deliver the NQF.
The Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) is an independent national authority that helps administer the NQF.
Find your state or territory education department
State and territory governments are responsible for delivering preschool services.
What do providers and services do?
Providers and services deliver CCS-eligible education and care to children and families.
The provider is the entity, or organisation, that holds approval to deliver early childhood education and care services. The provider is legally responsible for correctly administering FAL and National Law.
Providers can be for-profit, non-profit, community based or government run.
The service delivers early childhood education and care direct to children and families. There are 4 care types eligible for CCS:
- Centre Based Day Care
- Family Day Care
- Outside School Hours Care
- In Home Care.
Providers can deliver a range of CCS-eligible services. A provider can also be a service.
Families can find and compare services at StartingBlocks.gov.au.
Find out more about the approved care types
What is early childhood education and care?
Early childhood education and care instils social, physical, emotional, personal, creative, and cognitive learning in children. It’s delivered by qualified educators through a formalised learning framework.
Generally, it covers the age range 0 to school age.
Quality early childhood education and care helps with healthy early childhood development and prepares children for school.
Who works in early childhood education?
In 2021 over 216,000 staff were employed in the early childhood education and care sector. The average age of staff is 32 and 92% are female.
Most, 85%, have an early childhood education and care qualification. 12% have a bachelor degree.
Depending on the service type, people who work in early childhood education and care services include:
- early childhood teachers
- early childhood educators
- educational leaders
- support staff like cooks and cleaners
- directors and managers.
In 2021, ACECQA released the National Children’s Education and Care Workforce Strategy 2022–2031. The strategy aims to foster a sustainable and high-quality workforce of early childhood teachers and educators over the next 10 years.
Find out about qualification requirements
Find out about the workforce strategy
Explore initiatives supporting the workforce
Why is early childhood education and care so important?
Early childhood education and care benefits children, families and the Australian economy.
Quality early education and care early leads to better health, education and employment outcomes later in life. Quality education and care lays the foundation for lifelong development and learning. Additionally, children who attend preschool are generally better prepared to start primary school.
Access to affordable education and care means parents and carers can work, train, study and volunteer. This in turn boosts Australia’s economy.
Find out more about the benefits