What is the ACECQA educator-to-child ratio?


The guidelines set by the National Quality Framework (NQF) for educator to child ratio requirements are strictly observed in children’s education and care services. The educator-to-child ratio counts educators who work directly with children which means they have to be physically present with the children and directly involved in providing education and care to those children. The National Regulations require educator to child ratios for education and care services. This also includes requirements for early childhood teachers (ECTs). The ratio requirements vary for specific types of education and care service.

Family daycare requirements

The ratio for family daycare services is one required educator for seven children. Ratio includes the educator’s own children younger than 13 years of age if there is no other adult to care for them.  The service is not allowed to have more than four under preschool-age children.

Childcare educator and parent as well as child

Centre-based requirements

Centre-based childcare services compute for their ratios across the whole service and not by individual rooms. This allows the centre to adequately allocate educators based on the age and needs of children in the service.

The number of educators required in a mixed age group of children differ. The number of educators needed for the youngest age range is not the same required educator count for children in an older age range. An educator who is caring for one age range of children can also be counted against another age range of children. The centre must ensure that they maintain the ratio for each age range and there’s adequate supervision at all times.

The Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) which works with all state and territory regulatory authorities, developed an online calculator to simplify ratio calculations across centre-based services. The Educator To Child Ratio Calculator computes the minimum number of educators and ECTs required in a centre-based service based on the age mix and the given number of children at any point in time.

Differentiations between states

The national ratios for centre-based services including long daycare centres and preschools differ in states and territories

  • The ACECQA ratio for children birth to 24 months age group is one staff member to every four children. This applies in all states and territories.
  • One staff member to every five children is needed for children over 24 months and less than 36 months. This applies to all early childhood education providers in all states and territories, except for Victoria which the educator to child ratio for this age group is 1:4
  • One staff member to every 11 children is the acceptable ratio for children over 36 months up to preschool age range. This applies in all states and territories, except for NSW (1:10),
    TAS (1:10), TAS (2:25 for children attending a preschool program) and WA (1:10)
  • For the over pre-school age children bracket, one staff member to every 15 children is the educator to child ratio. It applies in all states and territories, except for ACT (1:11 ), WA (1:13 or 1:10 if kindergarten children are in attendance)
AgeStateRation Parents to Children
0-24 MonthsAll1:4
24-36 MonthsNSW, Qld, WA, Tas, NT, SA, ACT1:5
24-36 MonthsVictoria1:4
36 Months – Pre SchoolQld, Vic, NT, SA, ACT1:11
36 Months – Pre SchoolQld, Vic, NT, SA, ACT1:10
Pre SchoolNSW, Vic, Tas, NT, SA, Qld1:15
Pre SchoolACT1:11
Pre SchoolWA1:13
Playful learning at childcare

Why is it important?

Impacts children’s learning

Early childhood education plays a significant role in a child’s formative years. During this period, they develop intellectually, socially, emotionally, and physically. Their early childhood interactions have a lasting effect on their learning journey and having an adequate number of qualified educators that supervise children helps in building healthy progress for them.

The national regulations on the ratio of educators to children is an essential component in a child’s development and learning. Applying the minimum educator to child ratio and standard qualification requirements ensure that each child receives the attention and care they need from qualified educators.

Achieving the educator-to-child ratio increases the chances of forming strong, lasting and responsive relationships between the child and the educator. Meeting the required number of educators equates to having knowledgeable staff or an early childhood teacher that can determine each child’s individual needs and encourage developmental outcomes.

Helps with supervision of children

Maintaining the National Quality Framework staff-child ratio requirements ensure that children are supervised at all times. Having the right child ratio helps the staff be more aware of the environment and individual needs of children so they are able to adjust accordingly.

Supervision goes beyond just watching children, staff must be actively working to listen, interact, monitor, and prevent problems in the centre. When they are not overwhelmed with the number of children in their care because the educator to child ratio is adhered to, the staff is more aware of all children in the group, even when they take time to attend to an individual child.

Influences childcare environment

The age range is one defining factor on how many educators a service should allocate for a group. The younger the age group, the more attention they need from their early childhood teacher. It is ideal for younger children to be in smaller groups with more staff. Having the right number of educators required can help create a safe environment that focuses on children’s safety and wellbeing. The national regulations educator to child ratio allows educators to develop more effective and meaningful relationships with children in the centre helping them be more engaged, happy and relaxed.

Mother picking the right childcare

Benefits of picking a childcare with an appropriate ratio

In choosing a childcare service provider, it’s very important to know how many qualified educators they have and how they are adhering to the ACECQA educator to child ratios. When a service has the ample number of early childhood educators who meet the care qualification requirements, children will experience more one-on-one care.

When a child receives adequate supervision it helps them develop better social and learning skills. Low child-to-adult ratios and small group sizes in care services ensure that a child gets enough attention from their educator who attends to each child’s unique needs.

Receiving undivided attention positively affects a child’s social and emotional development, physical well-being, and overall learning experience. They feel more safe and secure reducing tendencies of getting overwhelmed or feeling anxiety.

Every child deserves the best care, go for a quality childcare centre with an appropriate staff-child ratios.

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