How to choose a quality early childhood service

The quality of early childhood services (like child care and kindergarten) is rated under a system called the National Quality Framework.

The National Quality Framework is designed to raise the quality of early childhood services. A big focus of the framework is measuring the quality of services. This information is given to families to help them choose early education and care.

There are lots of things you can do to help choose a good early childhood service. You can look up the service’s quality ratings and you can visit the service and ask questions.

Go to Child Care Finderfor more information on how to choose child care and kindergarten.

How early childhood services are rated

The quality of early childhood services is measured against seven quality areas. The table below is from the Commonwealth Government’s Starting Blocks website and explains what the standards are and what they mean.

The standards are based on what the research shows are the most important parts of a quality early education and care service.

Quality areas
What this area is about
Educational program and practiceYour child is supported to participate in play and learning
Children's health and safetyYour child is protected from illness and hazards
Physical environmentYour child plays in a safe and well-maintained environment
Staffing arrangementsThere are enough qualified staff to give your child the attention they need
Relationships with childrenYour child is made to feel supported and welcomed
Collaborative partnerships with families and communitiesLocal community involvement and respect for the beliefs and values of families
Leadership and service managementYour child is educated in a positive and well managed environment

For more information about these quality areas, please visit the Department's pages about the National Quality Framework and early childhood services

What are the ratings?

Services receive a rating for each of the quality areas and an overall rating based on these results.

Most services will receive one of the following ratings:

  • Significant improvement required
  • Working towards the National Quality Standard
  • Meeting the National Quality Standard
  • Exceeding the National Quality Standard
  • Excellent.

How do services get rated?

Services are assessed and rated regularly by authorised officers from the Victorian Department of Education and Training.

When visiting the service, the authorised officer will:

  • Observe – what children, families, educators, coordinators and staff members are doing (for example, engaging in caring, friendly and respectful interactions).
  • Discuss – why and how particular practices occur at the service, with the approved provider and educators at the service.
  • Sight – documentation provided as evidence to support particular practices at the service (for example, records of attendance, enrolment records, policies and procedures, meeting minutes, safety checklists, newsletters, photos, collections of children’s work and documentation of child assessments or evaluations).

Each service is unique and the ways in which the elements and standards are met will be determined by the service context, including the service environment; the needs, interests and abilities of the children attending the service; and the needs of families and the wider community.

How do I find out quality ratings?

The and the websites help you find out the quality ratings of early childhood services.