New LDC license issuance ticked higher in March, FDC continues to contract
The number of new service approvals issued to long day care (LDC) centres opening in March 2019 increased relative to February 2019 but was the same as March 2018 according to The Sector’s latest monthly analysis of the Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) register.
In March a total of 34 new LDC licences were granted to centres across Australia. This compares to 28 in February 2019 and 37 in March 2018.
With respect to the key states, New South Wales saw the most centre openings with 16 followed by Victoria with ten and Queensland with five. Western Australia and South Australia saw two openings each.
March saw a slight a pick up in license cancellations with 16 services closing. This compares to five in February. NSW and SA saw the most closures at four centres each followed by QLD with three.
From a quarterly perspective the increases in March combined with the strong numbers reported in January more than offset the quieter February.
This was particularly notable in VIC and QLD where new licenses issued in Q1 2019 were the highest on record.
NSW showed a lower number of new licenses issued as did WA and SA.
Overall, 129 new centres opened across Australian states and territories in Q1 in total which equates to around an increase of 1.6 per cent on Q4 2018 and 4.0 per cent on Q1 2018.
These numbers, albeit indicative, do suggest that the tail of new centres coming to the market thus far in 2019 was larger than previously anticipated in light of the relatively quiet period recorded in Q4 2018.
It is important to recognise that early education supply and demand dynamics are localised, so a national snapshot may not be representative of a particular catchment. That being said, should we see license issuance persist at these levels into April and May, questions will start to be asked as to whether the supply cycle which commenced in earnest in 2015 is indeed over.
In the family day care (FDC) setting the number of cancelled licences continues to outweigh new licence issuance. The closures of FDC’s in the last 36 months has been relentless and March continued that trend with 21 services closed with 11 in VIC and nine in NSW.
Kindergarten and outside school hours care centre numbers were broadly stable with no significant issuance or cancellation trends of note this month.
The Sector’s next monthly analysis of the Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) register will be released in the first week of May.