ACECQA’s 2021 Family Survey provides new insights into key centre selection criteria and rating awareness
The ACECQA Family Survey, which is conducted biannually and most recently completed in 2021, shows a material shift in parents’ awareness of the quality rating system as well as a jump in the importance of educator skills as a key factor in a families service evaluation and selection process.
This latest addition of the survey had over 4,000 responses and provides a valuable insight into the shifting attitudes and beliefs of a nationally representative sample of families using, or considering using, children’s education and care services.
The key highlights of the survey results as shared in this year’s NQF Performance Report are as follows:
- Awareness of NQS quality ratings jumped substantially – 55 per cent of respondents indicated an awareness of the NQS quality rating system, up from 46 per cent in 2019. 62 per cent had knowledge of their services rating, up from 51 per cent in 2019 and notably, 85 per cent of families who were aware of the rating found it helpful or very helpful, compared to 80 per cent in 2019.
- 75% of families say word of mouth is the most important info source for a service – Word of mouth remains the dominant source of information for families seeking to learn more about a particular service with 75 per cent relying on it. That being said the overall percentage has fallen by 3 per cent since 2019 with families now using more digital and social channels such as search engines, government websites, social media and other websites, including search platforms, to help with gathering information on a service.
- “Highly skilled educators” are now as important as location to prospective families – On average families now consider educator skill and location as equally important when evaluating the most important factors when choosing a service. This is a substantial departure from previous years when location was consistently the most important factor.
- Cost / affordability now fourth most important factor when selecting a provider – Parents now consider the cost of care as the fourth most important factor when selecting a child care service, down from second in 2019, a significant reduction which could be connected to the introduction of the Child Care Subsidy legislation in 2018 and the subsequent improvement in affordability it offered the vast majority of families across Australia.
It’s important to recognise that these results represent a cross section of families using each of the main ECEC service settings in Australia and are not setting specific. This year’s survey saw a relatively even spread of respondents using each of the centre-based service types of preschool/kindergarten, long day care and outside school hours care with a smaller contribution from family day care users.
To review the results within the NQF Annual Performance report please click here and go to page 45.
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