Information Booklet

What is Starting Blocks

img is a new, family friendly resource to provide parents with information about early childhood education and care to help them make the best choice for their child and family.

Starting Blocks is a starting point for families to:

  • learn about children’s developmental milestones
  • understand what to expect from an early childhood education and care service
  • find services and learn about their quality ratings
  • get tips on starting child care or preschool, and what can be done at home to encourage their child’s learning and development.

Why was Starting Blocks launched?


Parents want to better understand the many education and care options available and how to make the best choice for their child and their family.

ACECQA launched Starting Blocks to provide families with trusted information, all in the one place.

It uses language which families can relate to and understand and delivers easily accessible evidence-based resources to enable families to make informed decisions.

While it does include some information about outside school hours care, its focus is on families with children aged birth to five. Its focus may expand in the future.

Starting Blocks is in place to help families understand that quality early childhood education and care is important, not only for their children, but for future generations of Australians and our community.

Visit Starting Blocks for more information.

What the NQF means for your child?


National Quality Framework Research shows quality education and care early in life leads to better health, education and employment outcomes later in life. The early years are critical for establishing self-esteem, resilience, healthy growth and capacity to learn.

That’s why the National Quality Framework (NQF) was introduced – to give every child the best start to life and learning.

The NQF introduces legal requirements and a new quality standard to improve education and care across long day care, family day care, preschool/kindergarten, and outside school hours care services.

The major benefits for parents and children include:

  • improved educator to child ratios in most services
  • greater individual care and attention for children
  • educators with increased skills and qualifications
  • better support for children’s learning and development
  • a ratings system to help parents assess the quality of education and care providers in their area.

Read the NQF fact sheet for families on the Starting Blocks website.

Find a service near you and their quality ratings.

National Quality Standard and quality ratings


Services are assessed and rated against seven quality areas of the National Quality Standard:

  1. Educational program and practice: Your child is supported to participate in play and learning
  2. Children’s health and safety: Your child is protected from illness and hazards
  3. Physical environment: Your child plays in a safe and well maintained environment
  4. Staffing arrangements: There are enough qualified staff to give your child the attention they need
  5. Relationships with children: Your child is made to feel supported and welcomed
  6. Collaborative partnerships with families and communities: Local community involvement and respect and inclusion of all beliefs and values
  7. Leadership and service management: Your child is cared for in a positive environment

Services receive a rating for each of the quality areas and an overall rating based on these results. Services must display their ratings.

Ratings can help you choose a service for your child. It is important to look at the rating for each of the seven quality areas as well as the overall rating.

Most services will be rated: Working towards; Meeting; Exceeding National Quality Standard.

Services that receive an overall rating of Exceeding may apply to be rated Excellent. If a service is assessed and there are serious compliance issues, it is rated Significant Improvement Required. In this situation, the regulator uses penalties to make sure the service improves, or otherwise will stop the
service from operating.

Find a service near you and their quality ratings.

Read about the different types of education and care services.

Read our fact sheet on preparing for child care.

Benefits of the NQF


The NQF aims to improve quality of education and care in a number of ways.

More qualified staff


Research shows higher qualified educators improve outcomes for children. The higher their qualifications, the greater their understanding of child development, health and safety issues. These educators are better
equipped to lead activities that inspire children and help them learn and develop.

More individual care and attention


Improving educator to child ratios allows staff to give more individual care and attention and contributes to better social and learning outcomes for children. Educators are able to develop more effective and meaningful relationships with children, resulting in more engaged, happy and relaxed youngsters.

Read more about improved educator to child ratios being introduced throughout Australia.

Consistent information on quality


All services are being assessed and rated to give families consistent information on their quality. This means wherever you live in Australia or if your family moves interstate, you can compare apples with apples
when it comes to finding child care. These ratings are published on the Starting Blocks website.

More information


The Starting Blocks website offers helpful tips for parents on early childhood development and what to look for to ensure your child gets a quality care and learning experience.

If you have concerns about a service, contact the service provider or your local state and territory
regulatory authority

Videos and translated resources for families


Starting Blocks is ACECQA’s new, family friend resource. The Starting Blocks website provides parents with information about early childhood education and care to help them make the best choice for their child and family.

There are a range of resources available for families on the National Quality Framework (NQF) and quality rating system on the Starting Blocks website and below. Some have been translated.

ACECQA has developed a series of videos to help explain the NQF, quality ratings and how services are assessed and rated. Watch them in the above player or on our Guide to the NQF playlist on YouTube.

You can also watch our video from Starting Blocks on choosing the right child care service for your child.

Posters, fact sheets and translated resources

You can download and print the following posters on the National Quality Framework in a range of languages. Translated fact sheets on choosing the right service for your child, preparing for child care and more are available on the Starting Blocks website.

If you have suggestions for other resources or language groups for ACECQA to consider, please contact our Enquiries Team.

Find a service and quality ratings


You can find approved education and care services by visiting the Starting Blocks website.

Contact information on services including their quality ratings is regularly updated.

This data is collected through the National Quality Agenda IT System.

More information



Translated Resources


Families Library


Contact details of Regulatory Authority and ACECQA


Please contact the regulatory authority in your state or territory from the list below. If you wish to contact ACECQA, please click here.



Department of Education and Training

Address :
GPO Box 4367
Website :
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need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Phone :
1300 307 415