Early Childhood Education and Care DSS 2018

Identifying and definitional attributes

Metadata item type:Data Set Specification
METeOR identifier:686186
Registration status:Early Childhood, Superseded 02/12/2020
DSS type:Data Set Specification (DSS)

This data set has been developed to support the collection of data under the National Information Agreement on Early Childhood Education and Care. Responsibility for early childhood learning and care is shared between the Australian Government and the state and territory governments, and involves a wide range of service providers including government, local government, community, schools and the private sector.

The Agreement provides a framework for cooperation between the Australian Government, state and territory jurisdictions and information agencies to develop the early childhood education and care (ECEC) information base required for the Council of Australian Government (COAG) early childhood reform agenda.

Data and information in scope of the Agreement include:

  • Activity under the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education (NP UAECE)
  • ECEC information required to support the information needs of other National Agreements and National Partnerships, including the National Partnership Agreement on Indigenous Early Childhood Development and the National Indigenous Reform Agreement
  • Outcomes in relation to the COAG Participation and Productivity Agenda
  • Other national reporting purposes, including but not limited to, the Report on Government Services (ROGS), Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage, Report to COAG Reform Council, and Headline Indicators on Children’s Health, Development and Wellbeing
  • Monitoring, research and evaluation related to children, families and early childhood development services under the Early Childhood Development Strategy (ECDS).

Service provider organisations for the purposes of this collection are agencies directly providing services to children at a specific location. This includes organisations providing early childhood education programs, and other early childhood education and direct care services.

Organisations may provide multiple services, however for the purpose of reporting against the NP UAECE, only early childhood education programs are included.

The scope of the data set is therefore all service providers delivering an early childhood education program to children enrolled aged 3 to 6 (inclusive) during the reference period, noting that coverage of 3 year olds varies across jurisdictions.

Within this scope, an early childhood education program is a structured, play-based learning program, delivered by a qualified teacher aimed at children in the year or two before they commence full-time schooling, irrespective of the type of institution that provides it or whether it is government funded or privately provided. Programs may be delivered in a variety of service settings including separate preschools or kindergartens, Centre Based Day Care, in association with a school etc.

The terms most commonly used to describe early childhood education programs which are subject to the NP UAECE in states and territories are:

  • Kindergarten – Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania
  • Kindergarten or Preschool – Victoria, South Australia
  • Preschool – New South Wales, Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory.

An early childhood education program may or may not be delivered in such a way that meets the Universal Access goal. The requirements for Universal Access are listed below.

The NP UAECE is a commitment to joint Australian Government, State and Territory action to provide universal access to quality early childhood education programs.

Universal access means that every child, in the year before they commence full-time schooling, has access to, and participates in:

  • quality early childhood education program(s)
  • delivered for at least 600 hours per year
  • in a form that meets the needs of children, parents and community
  • and at a cost that does not present a barrier to participation.

To apply the requirements of the NP UAECE to the data set, a 'quality' early childhood education program is a program which is delivered in the year before full-time schooling by a qualified early childhood teacher, in accordance with the Early Years Learning Framework and the National Quality Framework (NQF).

Monitoring information is to be maintained for the previous NP UAECE where possible. However, specific data elements, data definitions and terminologies in the data set conform to those used in the NP UAECE.

Collection and usage attributes

Statistical unit:


Service provider organisation

Person (employed)

Collection methods:

The collection date for the National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection (NECECC) is the first Friday in August of each year, with a reference period of one week in the same week as the collection date. Some jurisdictions prefer to incorporate a reference period of two weeks that includes the collection date, to better reflect their preschool program delivery model. A summary of jurisdictional collection reference periods can be found within the ABS' explanatory notes.

Implementation start date:01/07/2018

The glossary items supporting this data set specification include:


Source and reference attributes

Submitting organisation:

Australian Department of Education and Training

Steward:Early Childhood Data Sub Group (ECDSG)

National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education

Reference documents:

National Information Agreement for Early Childhood Education and Care, 2016-18

Relational attributes

Related metadata references:

Supersedes Early Childhood Education and Care DSS 2017 Early Childhood, Superseded 24/07/2018

Has been superseded by Early Childhood Education and Care DSS 2019 Early Childhood, Superseded 02/12/2020

Metadata items in this Data Set Specification

    Show more detail
Seq No.Metadata item Obligation Max occurs
-Early Childhood Education and Care: Aggregate NMDS 2018Mandatory1
-Early Childhood Education and Care: Unit Record Level NMDS 2018Mandatory1
-Person (employed)—hours worked in early childhood education program delivery (per week), total hours NNNOptional1
-Person—person identifier, XXXXXX[X(14)]Optional1
-Record—linkage key, code 581 XXXXXDDMMYYYYNOptional1