Parental knowledge and use of the National Quality Framework in their childcare decision making: Informed believers, informed dismissers and indifferent disregarders

Amber Hinton
Sheila Degotardi
Macquarie University

Marianne Fenech
The University of Sydney

The introduction of the National Quality Framework (NQF) aimed to improve the quality of formal early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings across Australia, and enable parents to make informed childcare choices. Since this Framework was only introduced in 2012, research has yet to determine if these intended outcomes have been achieved. The impact of this policy on the choices of prospective parents is explored. Findings suggest that prospective parents’ knowledge of the Framework is low and their use of NQF quality ratings to inform ECEC decision making even lower. Various influences on prospective parents’ ECEC choices appeared to prevent those who knew about the ratings from using them effectively. Notwithstanding efforts to promote the NQF and quality ratings as tools for parents when choosing ECEC for their children, findings suggest that the use of these tools is highly influenced by market failures.

Australasian Journal of Early Childhood—Volume 42 Number 4 December 2017.

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