Decline in sessional kinder attendance and LDC enrolment growth stalling key highlights of ROGS 2021-22 report
The Sector > Provider > General News > Decline in sessional kinder attendance and LDC enrolment growth stalling key highlights of ROGS 2021-22 report

Decline in sessional kinder attendance and LDC enrolment growth stalling key highlights of ROGS 2021-22 report

by Jason Roberts

February 14, 2023

The Productivity Commission has released the early childhood education and care (ECEC) component of its Report on Government Services (ROGS) 2022 series in which a complete snapshot of the ECEC sector’s performance in key areas such as participation, funding, costs, compliance and more are presented.


The ROGS report is a valuable high level snapshot of the key long term trends impacting the ECEC sector and is an important tool for benchmarking overall effectiveness of not just Government policy and funding but also service level performance. 


This year’s report saw a return to long term averages in many categories as the one off impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic worked through the system, however some statistics did stand out.   


A key highlight from this year’s report was the continued decline in attendance at Government and non Government preschools. Just 34.4 per cent of all children participating in a preschool program in the years before school attended a sessional kindergarten program in 2021, down from a high 43.0 per cent in 2018. 


Also notable this year was a stalling out in growth in attendance in long day care (LDC) settings. 818,310 children attended an LDC in 2022, compared to 816,818 in 2021, the first year of only marginal growth in at least five years. 


For a full summary of this years performances please see below:


Total funding – Total Government funding, both Federal and State based, for ECEC in 2021-22 saw divergent trends. Federal expenditure decreased 1 per cent to $10.3 billion and State and Territory increased 10 per cent to $2.5 billion. Increases were muted this year due to a lack of LDC attendance growth driving the child care subsidy (CCS). 


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 in preschool in the year before school rose marginally in 2021-23 to $472 million, a five per cent increase compared to the prior year.  


Children using approved child care services – 48.2 per cent of all children under the age of five years are now enrolled in an approved child care service, another new record. The proportion of children has increased steadily over the last ten years, up from 38.3 per cent in 2010. In terms of numbers of children, 879,988 under five years of age used a child care service in 2022-23, slightly higher than last year, and below the ten year average annual growth rate.  


Children using approved child care services by age groups – The age group that grew the fastest in terms of attendance was birth to one year olds which saw an increase of seven per cent, slightly lower than the 10 per cent recorded last year. A substantial slowdown in one to two year old attendance growth was recorded down from seven per cent last year to one per cent this year. Growth across the other age groups was flat or slightly lower this year. 


Overall children enrolled in a preschool program – The percentage of children enrolled in a preschool program in the year before school rose rebounded in 2021 (the latest year reported) to 87.2 per cent across Australia, up from 84.7 in 2020 as the impacts of COVID-19 wore off. New South Wales continues to be the laggard with only 83.1 per cent, followed by Queensland at 85.6 per cent and Victoria at 87.4 per cent. 


Children enrolled in a preschool program within Govt, Non Govt and LDC settings – Attendance at preschools operated by Government and non-Government organisations fell again for the fifth consecutive year. On the flip side, attendance at programs operated by LDC’s increased four per cent last year. 41.6 per cent of children now attend a preschool program within an LDC. Overall attendance at preschools has been rising but LDC growth is compensating for losses in the sessional kinders. 


Hours of attendance per week – LDC hours of attendance rose to another new record of 31.8 hours on average per week with the highest attendance levels being recorded in the Northern Territory, at 38.2 hours, and Queensland at 33.6 hours. Family day care (FDC) attendance rose slightly to 24.5.5 hours per week and Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) was steady again at 10.3 hours per week.


Children from special needs groups attendance at child care – The proportion of birth to five year olds from low income backgrounds attending child care services was down to 23.1 per cent, a second consecutive fall with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community bucking that trend recording a new record level of 4.6 per cent of 0 to 5 year olds attending care. 


Children with additional needs attendance at preschool – 2021 (the latest year reported) was a better year for children who are classed as having additional needs and attending preschool, with increases in the proportion attending from non English speaking backgrounds and families of children living with disability. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community cohort actually saw a fall in the percentage of children attending a preschool from 6.1 per cent, to 5.8 per cent. 


Paid contact staff – As of 2021 there were 183,315 paid contact staff working in ECEC services across Australia, up from 144,491 at the last census reading in 2016. 25.4 per cent of team members are Certificate III or IV qualified, 32.0 per cent are Diploma qualified and 11.5 per cent Bachelor qualified. Since the last census in 2016 the percentage of Cert III’s and IV’s has dropped significantly with Diploma qualified educators jumping by nearly 14 per cent. 


Confirmed breaches at NQF approved ECEC services – Confirmed breaches in OSHC, preschool and FDC settings fell this year in absolute and on pre 100 centre basis. LDC breaches increased again in 2022 but at a slower rate than previous years. Overall breaches increased by just 2 per cent, a materially better performance than the last several years.  


Serious incidents at NQF approved ECEC services – After a huge increase in serious incident reports last year, 2022 returned back to more moderate levels with a rise of just two per cent across all the settings in the year. LDC report numbers were up five per cent year on year, compared to a massive 30 per cent increase last year. OSHC, FDC and preschool all recorded falls in 2022. 


Children are developmentally vulnerable on one or more domains – The proportion of children deemed developmentally vulnerable on one or more domains as measured by the AEDC increased to 20.3 per cent for those who received some ECEC, 40.7 per cent for those that received no ECEC and 22.0 per cent over all. The proportion that attended an ECEC service and were deemed vulnerable reached a new high this year. 


For more information on this year’s release including reports and data sets please click here.

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