National Quality Framework

The National Quality Framework (NQF) is Australia’s system for regulating early childhood education and care. It provides a national approach to regulation, assessment and quality improvement. The Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) is an independent national authority that helps administer the NQF.

On this page:

What does the NQF include?

The NQF includes:

  • laws and regulations
  • quality standards
  • approved learning frameworks.

National Law and Regulations

The National Law sets a standard for early childhood education and care across Australia.

The National Regulations support the National Law by providing detail on a range of operational requirements for early childhood education and care services.

Learn more about the national law and regulations on ACECQA’s website.

National Quality Standard

The National Quality Standard (NQS) sets a national benchmark for early childhood education and care services. It promotes the safety, health and wellbeing of children. The NQS includes 7 quality areas.

Learn more about the NQS on ACECQA’s website.

Regulatory authorities assess services against each of the 7 quality areas and give them an overall rating based on these results.

Learn more about the assessment and rating process on ACECQA’s website.

Approved learning frameworks

There are two nationally approved learning frameworks that support and promote children’s learning.

Learn more about the frameworks on our approved learning frameworks page.

Who does the NQF apply to?

The NQF applies to most child care providers and services, including:

  • Centre Based Day Care
  • Family Day Care
  • Outside School Hours Care
  • Preschool and kindergarten.

Who administers the NQF?

State and territory regulatory authorities are responsible for administering the NQF.

The Australian Government funds an independent national authority, ACECQA, to:

  • support state and territory regulatory authorities to administer the NQF, and
  • promote continuous improvement and national consistency in service quality.

Go to ACECQA’s website for more information about the NQF.

Review of the NQF

In 2023, ACECQA conducted a review into child safety in early childhood settings.  

The report found Australia has a very good system of early childhood education and care. However, more can be done to ensure the NQF remains contemporary and fit-for-purpose in the context of child safety.

It made 16 recommendations about:  

  • physical and online safety 
  • child supervision 
  • staffing requirements.

Education Ministers were presented with the report and officials will report to the first Education Ministers Meeting in early 2024 with implementation advice.

Read the Report of the Review of Child Safety Arrangements under the National Quality Framework.