In 2017, of children aged 0–12 years, 1,261,041 children (or 31.3 per cent) attended Australian Government Child Care Benefit approved child care services, an increase of 3.3 per cent from 2016.
In 2016, of children aged 3–5 years, 514,028 children were enrolled in a preschool program. Of children aged in the state-specific year before full time schooling, 288,369 children (or 92.4 per cent) were enrolled in a preschool program. Of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged in the state-specific year before full time schooling, 90.4 per cent were enrolled in a preschool program.
At 30 June 2017, 73.4 per cent of National Quality Framework approved services with a quality rating were rated as meeting or exceeding the National Quality Standard — up from 70.4 per cent at 30 June 2016.
Total Australian, State and Territory government recurrent and capital expenditure on early childhood education and care services was $9.4 billion in 2016–17, compared with $9.2 billion in 2015–16.
Early childhood education and care services aim to meet the education, care and development needs of children, and meet the needs of families including enabling increased workforce participation, by providing universal access to early childhood education services for eligible children and accessible child care services that:
- are high quality, affordable, flexible and can be implemented across a range of settings
- are delivered in a safe, nurturing and inclusive environment
- target improved access for, and participation by, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, vulnerable and disadvantaged children.
Governments aim for ECEC services to meet these objectives in an equitable and efficient manner.