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National Quality Framework

Most early childhood education and care services are regulated under a scheme known as the National Quality Framework.

Who is regulated under the National Quality Framework (NQF)

Most early childhood services that provide education and care to children on a regular basis are regulated under the National Quality Framework (NQF).

There are a number of different service types: family day care (FDC), long day care (LDC), preschools (kindergartens) and outside school hours care (OSHC) that provide education and care to children under 13 years.

If you are interested in occasional care or limited hours care, offered at Neighbourhood Houses, gyms or other locations please refer to Children’s services regulated under State Law. These services are not regulated under the NQF.

How the NQF works

The NQF is a national regime which operates in all States and Territories across Australia.

The Department of Education (the department) is the Regulatory Authority in Victoria, and is responsible for:

  • all provider and service applications and approvals
  • making sure NQF services meet the requirements of the National Law and National Regulations
  • carrying out the quality assessment and rating process
  • monitoring compliance with the National Law and Regulations, and the Children’s Services Act and Regulations
  • investigating any complaints received, or information that alleges that offences have been, or are being committed that pose a risk to the safety, health or wellbeing of any child at an early childhood service
  • taking compliance or enforcement action against a provider, service or nominated supervisor for an offence under either the National Law and Regulations (NQF) or the Children’s Services Act.

Quality Assessment and Regulation Division operates nine regional offices which each oversee providers and services in their area. Find your regional office and speak to an Authorised Officer: Quality Assessment and Regulation Contacts.

The department also shares responsibility with the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) and the other states to:

  • create minimum standards that approved providers and services must meet to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of children attending NQF services
  • promote quality educational and developmental outcomes for children outcomes
  • encourage continuous improvement through Quality Improvement Plans (QIPs) used in the assessment and rating cycle.

Who’s who in the NQF

The glossary section of ACECQA’s Guide to the NQF explains key terms and roles in the NQF.

How to open a NQF service

For information on applying for provider or service approval refer to Opening a childcare service.

How to operate an NQF service

For information on operating an NQF service, and all your obligations refer to Operating a service.

How to find an approved NQF service in Victoria

To find an approved NQF service visit Starting blocks - a website designed by ACECQA for parents.

Further information and legislation