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4240.0.55.001 - National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection Manual, 2010  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 05/04/2011  First Issue
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VICTORIA

OVERVIEW

In Victoria, 'kindergarten' is the term used for a child’s year before full-time schooling (referred to within this manual as 'preschool') and 'preparatory' is the term used for a child’s first year of school. Children in Victoria are eligible to enrol in preschool at the beginning of the year if they turn 4 years old prior to 30 April of the same year.


LEGISLATION AND LICENSING

All Victorian preschools fall under the Amended Children’s Services Act 1996 (Vic.), Children’s Services Act 1996 (Vic.) and the Children’s Services Regulations 2009 and are bound by the conditions of these Acts and Regulations. The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) licenses child care services including preschool, long day care (LDC), family day care, in-home care, occasional care and outside school hours care. All regulations and conditions of applications for licenses are covered under the Children’s Services Regulations 2009.

The Victorian state government provides contributory funding towards one year of preschool for each child in the year before they start school. To be in receipt of funding, preschools must be licensed under the Children's Services Act 1996, and operate a preschool program that meets the criteria for funding eligibility. Some children are funded for a second year of preschool if eligibility requirements are met.


MANAGEMENT TYPES

In Victoria, there are a variety of program settings and physical settings for preschool programs. Victorian providers may operate their services from a stand-alone facility or in a LDC centre. The actual service model can be a sessional preschool program that is operated in a stand-alone setting or an LDC, or a preschool program which may be fully integrated as part of an LDC setting. Preschool programs may be delivered from a number of different types of physical setting which could include a school setting. These services may be government or non-government managed.

Preschool

Preschools in Victoria consist of the following management types:

Government managed

Government preschools in Victoria are those managed by local government.

Non-government managed

Community managed: Community managed preschools include those managed by parents, a church or co-operative, where the main service activity type is preschool.

Independent schools: Independent schools are schools that are governed, managed and accountable at the level of the individual school.

Private for-profit managed: Preschools managed by the private sector include for-profit private providers, companies or natural persons, where the main service activity type is preschool.

Long day care

LDCs in Victoria consist of the following management types:

Community managed: Community managed LDCs include those managed by parents, a church or co-operative, where the main service activity type is not preschool.

Private for-profit managed: LDCs managed by the private sector include for-profit private providers, companies or natural persons, where the main service activity type is not preschool.


QUALITY OF DATA SOURCE

Confirmed Kindergarten Funding Data Collection

In 2010 Victoria had one main source for the collection of data in relation to preschool programs, the Confirmed Kindergarten Funding Data Collection.

Institutional environment

The organisation responsible for the Confirmed Kindergarten Funding Data Collection (the DEECD Collection) was the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD).

Relevance

The data from the 2010 DEECD Collection enabled reporting across the Victorian ECEC sector for a variety of reporting requirements. The information was used by DEECD to make decisions about the level of funding each organisation was eligible to receive for each preschool child enrolment (per capita funding) and the number of children eligible to receive the Kindergarten Fee Subsidy.

The scope of this collection included all children aged 3 to 6 years old who were officially enrolled in a state funded preschool program during the collection period, that was provided by an organisation with a current Service Agreement with DEECD. These services with a current Funding and Service Agreement with DEECD were licensed and funded by DEECD, and therefore participation in the collection was a mandatory requirement.

For 2010, data were collected at the aggregate level for:

  • Preschool programs: information on service operations and characteristics.
  • Children enrolled at a preschool program: information on child characteristics, and enrolment, but not attendance.
  • Staff: information on employment arrangements and qualifications.

There may be a small number of preschool programs that operated in LDCs that were not funded or licensed by the DEECD, and therefore were not included in the 2010 DEECD Collection. The Early Childhood Education and Care National Minimum Data Set (ECEC NMDS), defines that a preschool program can operate in an LDC if the program comprises a structured education program usually provided by a qualified teacher. Jurisdictional collections currently do not have full coverage of preschool programs being delivered in LDC as defined by the ECEC NMDS for the National ECEC Collection. Data sourced from the Child Care Management System (CCMS) is required to achieve full coverage of preschool activity in LDC nationally. CCMS preschool data was not included in the 2010 collection due to the required information not being collected. In the future, the National ECEC Collection aims to include information on preschool programs provided within LDC through the CCMS.

Timeliness

Data for 2010 was collected during a 4 week period, beginning 12 April. The collection reference period adopted by Victoria did not align with the recommended August collection reference period adopted by the other jurisdictions for the 2010 National ECEC Collection.

In Victoria, it was a condition of preschool funding that organisations provide accurate information to DEECD by the due date. The timeliness and accuracy of data provided by each organisation is reviewed annually as part of a service agreement. If an organisation failed to provide accurate information or to return the forms to their regional office by the required date, DEECD may decide to delay or cease payments of funding.

The data processing and validation stages took approximately 2 to 3 months after the collection date, at which time data were delivered to the ABS.

Accuracy

Organisations with a current service agreement with DEECD and who continued to meet the eligibility requirements for funding, were required to submit data collection forms to their regional office. There are two data collections each year and organisations are required to provide data for both collections.

In the April 2010 collection, organisations were required to confirm the number of enrolments and the number of children receiving the Kindergarten Fee Subsidy who were enrolled and attending at the time of the collection. User and service characteristics were also provided at this time.

In the November 2010 collection, all organisations receiving preschool funding were required to complete a form to estimate the anticipated number of preschool enrolments, and the number of children eligible to receive the Kindergarten Fee Subsidy for the following year.

In April 2010, data were collected for the first time via an on-line form from the majority of service providers. A paper based form was used to collect information from a small number of providers. These forms were then included with data collected from the online form. Service providers were required to access the on-line form to record enrolment and attendance data for the reference week. The on-line form allowed service providers to type in information or select appropriate answers from available options by either ticking a box or selecting from a drop down list. Some information on the form was already pre-populated for the organisations. Pre-populated information was required to be checked for accuracy. Automatic alerts allowed the user to know if there were mismatches or errors in cross-referenced data, so that they could check their answers and edit if necessary.

The process of obtaining and processing data in Victoria commenced with the service provider's entry of data into the 'Kindergarten Confirmed Funding Data Collection (Organisation) On-line Part A Form' and the 'Kindergarten Confirmed Funding Data Collection (Service Location) On-line Part B Form'. Once service providers completed these forms, they were returned to DEECD via the internet. Funding data from these collections was then entered and stored in the DEECD data repository, Children's Services Online (CHISOL).

In order to consolidate the CHISOL and on-line survey data, the Data and Evaluation Division matched data from the two sources to ensure there was no duplication. Data was then extracted from CHISOL for the 2010 National ECEC Collection.

Victoria carried out data validation in response to missing fields of data as well as cross checking data for accuracy. With the move to on-line data collection, many fields were entered via drop-down boxes containing only valid options. Intermediate totals were system calculated, rather than manually entered. DEECD staff performed verification checks on every preschool service submission, such as ensuring that no blanks occurred in data records, and comparing enrolments across years.

Coherence

In 2010 DEECD used an aggregate data collection methodology. Aggregate jurisdictional data collection methodologies using the 2010 ECEC Aggregate National Minimum Data Set (NMDS) did not allow for the identification of multiple enrolments for a single child. In the collection reference period, a child may be enrolled and attend two or more different preschool programs. Aggregate data from the 2010 DEECD Confirmed Kindergarten Funding Data Collection did not allow identification of unique records. This methodology can only produce episodes of attendance, and not the attendance of individual children. 2010 ECEC statistics from DEECD should be interpreted with care as they are not directly comparable with other jurisdictional data included in the 2010 National ECEC Collection.

Victoria was able to supply data on approved second year preschool enrolments, which provided further contextual information on preschool enrolments in Victoria. This information was not available for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander children for 2010, but will be available in future collections.

Due to expected developments to the Confirmed Kindergarten Funding Data Collection, a time series will not be achievable with 2010 data. It is anticipated that time series will be achieved in the future as the DEECD Collection develops in its capacity to capture unit record level child and staff data.

Further information on data elements:
  • Preschool attendance hours was not provided (only preschool enrolment hours).
  • LDC fee schedule was not disaggregated by age of children, as specified in the NMDS.
  • Preschool fee schedule was not disaggregated by age of children, as specified in the NMDS.
  • Child data was not disaggregated by sex. This impacts aggregate data on enrolment, attendance and Indigenous status of children.
  • Child age was specified 'as at 30 April', not the recommended 'as at 1 July'.
  • Indigenous data was not disaggregated by age.
  • Attendance data was not supplied.

For LDC data, Victoria did not supply disaggregated data by the 'preschool program delivered by teacher indicator'. As a result, Victorian LDC providers represented in table disaggregations of service activity type within the publication Experimental Estimates of Preschool Education, Australia, 2010 (cat. no. 4240.0) may not be delivering a preschool program as defined by the collection. A preschool program is defined as a structured, play based learning program, usually provided by a qualified teacher on a sessional basis, primarily aimed at children in the year or two before they commence full-time schooling.

Interpretability

Extensive explanatory information is provided on the collection form. Information such as a 'frequently asked questions' fact sheet on the data collection process was available from DEECD. If providers required clarification about a question they were able to contact a Children’s Service Adviser in their regional office.

Accessibility

National and jurisdictional level information is published in Experimental Estimates of Preschool Education, Australia, 2010 (cat. no. 4240.0) on the ABS website.

The information contained within this report has been sourced from the DEECD website <http://www.education.vic.gov.au/ecsmanagement/default.htm>, and from consultations held between the DEECD and the ABS.





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