2020 ROGS report sees funding and LDC enrolment up but preschool steady
The Productivity Commission has released the early childhood education and care (ECEC) component of their Report on Government Services (ROGS) series in which a complete snapshot of the sectors performance in key areas such as participation, funding, costs and compliance are presented.
The report is released annually and is designed to provide information on the equity, effectiveness and efficiency of government services, including ECEC, in Australia.
This year’s report confirmed amongst other things that childcare related funding levels reached new records as did long day care participation levels, in particular the two year old cohort, however Universal Access funding levels were static as were the proportion of children enrolled in 15 hours or more of preschool per week.
In addition, it was notable that LDC attendance of children from low income backgrounds increased materially in the period as did LDC attendance of children located in regional areas and from a preschool perspective children from a non english speaking background continued to record significant increases.
For a full summary of this years performances please see below:
- Total funding – Total funding on ECEC in the 2018-19 period reached record levels to $9.8 billion up significantly from the $9.4 billion recorded in the previous year. The increase was a function of the increased funding allocated as part of the Child Care Subsidy.
- Universal Access funding – The Commonwealth funding contribution through the National Partnership on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education that supports states and territories to increase participation rates in preschool fell marginally in 2018-19 to $432m million compared to $433 million in the prior year.
- Children using approved child care services – 44.4 per cent, a new record, of all children under the age of 5 years old are now enrolled in an approved child care service. The proportion of children has increased steadily over the last 10 years, up from 36.0 per cent in 2010. Notably, within the 0 to 5 age cohorts, 2 year old participation has grown the most, by 1.8 per cent in the last five years and under 1 years olds the least with a 0.2 per cent fall over the same period.
- Children enrolled in a preschool program – The percentage of children enrolled in a preschool program in the year before school rose slightly this year to 91.0 per cent across Australia, up from 90.1 per cent in 2017 and the percentage of children enrolled in 15 hours or more per week was steady relative to last year at 96.3 per cent. New South Wales continues to be the laggard on both counts with 84.4 per cent and 92.9 per cent respectively. From an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspective enrolment dipped slightly to 96.3 per cent.
- Hours of attendance per week – Long day care hours of attendance rose to a new record in 2019 to 29.7 hours on average per week with the longest attendance levels being recorded in the Northern Territory, 36.1 hours, and the ACT at 31.1 hours. Family day care attendance continued to fall and is now down to 24.2 hours per week and Outside School Hours Care, like LDC, recorded a new record to 10.1 hours per week.
- Children with special needs attendance at child care – The proportion of 0 to 5 year olds from low income backgrounds attending child care services jumped to 23.4 per cent, 3.4 per cent higher than the same period last year and back to the levels recorded in 2015 and 2016. A similar outcome was recorded for children in regional areas which rose to 24.7 per cent, the highest level recorded in the last five years and 1.8 per cent higher than last year.
- Children with special needs attendance at preschool – The proportion of children who are classed as disadvantaged and attending preschool increased to 17.7 per cent in 2018, a small increase on the previous years 17.3 per cent. Children from non english speaking backgrounds saw the largest increase over the past three years with 15.9 per cent attendance this year up from 13.7 per cent two years ago.
- Confirmed breaches at NQF approved ECEC services – Confirmed breaches at LDC, OSHC and preschool settings all climbed again this year when measured per 100 services. LDC recorded 158.8 breaches per 100 services, OSHC 90.3 breaches and preschool 55.4. It was the second consecutive year of breach increases. FDC on the other hand continued to see a fall in confirmed breaches.
- Serious incidents at NQF approved ECEC services – The total number of serious incidents reported in 2018-19 rose 4.8 per cent compared to last year with the largest increase recorded in the “emergency services called” category up 20 per cent. In terms of service types LDC incidents rose by 4.2 per cent, preschool by 6.1 per cent and OSHC by a material 10.3 per cent. OSHC also recorded the most incidents per 100 services at 71.7 up from 66.8 last year. From a state perspective the ACT recorded the most incidents per 100 services up 22.5 per cent to 161.5 and the NT the least at 76.0 per 100 services.
For more information on this years release including reports and data sets please click here.