Substantial funding increases, LDC enrolment growth and big rise in confirmed breaches key highlights of ROGS 2022-23 report
The Productivity Commission has released the early childhood education and care (ECEC) component of its Report on Government Services (ROGS) 2023 series in which a complete snapshot of the ECEC sector’s performance in areas such as participation, funding, costs, compliance and more is 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.
As always with the ROGS report there are some highpoints and low points, with the following key highlights notable:
- Record rises in CCS funding from both Federal and State and Territory governments
- A fall of 7.75 per cent in Federal contribution to Preschool Reform agreement
- Modest increases in LDC attendance overall but strong growth for children two years and under
- 89.1 per cent of all children in the year before school enrolled in a preschool program
- A notable fall in children from low income backgrounds enrolled in preschool programs
- A 21 per cent jump in NQF confirmed breaches and 15 per cent rise in serious incidents
A more detailed summary of key categories has been outlined below. To review the Productivity Commission’s data see the link at the end of the article:
Total funding – Total Government funding, (both Federal and State based) for ECEC in 2022-23 increased. Federal expenditure increased 8.9 per cent to $11.6 billion, a number which will be even larger this year as the Cheaper Child Care contributions are included. State and Territory increased 17 per cent to $3.2 billion, a very large jump reflecting scaling of kinder and preschool funding programs.
Universal Access funding – The Commonwealth funding contribution under the newly named Preschool Reform Agreement that supports states and territories to increase participation in preschool in the year before school fell 7.75 per cent to $455 million, the first such meaningful contraction in support since 2013-14.
Recurring Government expenditure per child – The Federal, State and Territory expenditure on ECEC services per child reached a new high last year of $9,315 (up 3 per cent) at the Federal level and an average of $9,467 across the States and Territories. Across all jurisdictions spending per child was up, except for VIC which was slightly lower. QLD recorded a 7 per cent increase and NSW a 3 per cent rise.
Children using approved child care services – After a lacklustre year of growth in 2022, the number of children using child care services jumped 3 per cent in 2023 to a new record of 910,208 with just under 50 per cent of all children in Australia now accessing care and education of some form. The number of children attending centre based care increased 2.6 per cent year on year.
Children using approved child care services by age groups – The notable growth driver this year was the one year old age group which saw attendance jump by 9 per cent. This to some degree reflects the post COVID baby boom generation starting to work through the system. Last year the birth to one year old age group attendance was up 8 per cent, and the year before up 10 per cent. These strong entrance level numbers bode well for service demand going forward.
Proportion of children enrolled in a preschool program – The percentage of children enrolled in a preschool program in the year before school rose rebounded in 2022 (the latest year reported) to 89.1 per cent across Australia, up from 87.2 in 2021. This solid improvement was driven by growth in the larger states of NSW (up 2.0 per cent), VIC (up 4.6 per cent) and QLD (up 1.5 per cent). The other states were a mixed bag with falls in WA, SA, TAS and NT.
Number of children enrolled in preschool programs across types in YBFS – The number of children attending a preschool program in the year before school actually fell from 2021 to 2022 (the latest data available) with all states and territories presenting negative growth. Notably, a lower proportion of children attended a program offered in an LDC setting with marginal gains recorded in the Government and Non Government categories.
Hours of attendance per week – LDC hours of attendance rose to another new record of 33.0 hours on average per week with the highest attendance levels being recorded in the Northern Territory, at 38.8 hours, and Queensland at 35.3 hours. Family day care (FDC) attendance rose slightly to 24.9 hours per week and Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) was slightly lower at 10.1 hours per week.
Children from selected equity groups attendance at child care services – The proportion of birth to five year olds from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community attending ECEC services rose again in 2022, to a new record level of 4.8 per cent of 0 to 5 year olds attending care, with the proportion from low income families falling to 21.1 per cent, 3.2 per cent lower than the record levels recorded in 2020.
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 as a class of actions under the NQF surged in 2022-23 recording a 21 per cent increase on the previous year, with OSHC showing a 35 per cent increase, FDC a 21 per cent increase and LDC a 17 per cent increase. These are large rises and it is unclear what has been driving them.
Serious incidents at NQF approved ECEC services – The number of serious incidents reported spiked again this year after a quiet year last year. There were 3,053 cases where emergency services attended a centre, up 17 per cent year on year and 2,315 cases where a child was locked in, taken away or unaccounted for up 17 per cent also. Overall cases were up 15 per cent this year.
Children are developmentally vulnerable in 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.
To access the full release click here.
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