Effects of Systemic Characteristics on the Quality of Family Day Care Services in Australia
The National Quality Standard (NQS) in Australia has set a national benchmark for the quality of education and care services, including long day care (LDC) and family daycare (FDC). However, previous studies have examined the influential factors on the quality and quality improvement in LDCs, leaving FDCs understudied. This study aims to explore the effects of systemic characteristics on FDC’s NQS ratings, with a focus on management type (MT), socio-economic status (SES), community accessibility and remoteness (CAR) and managing jurisdiction (MJ). Altogether 441 FDC schemes across all states and territories of Australia were derived from the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority's (ACECQA) national dataset, including 4 FDCs with an overall rating of “Significant Improvement Required”, 209 FDCs with a rating of “Working Towards NQS”, 170 with a rating of “Meeting NQS” and 58 with a rating of “Exceeding NQS”. Multinomial logistic regressions (MLR) were conducted to predict FDC’s overall NQS rating for each systemic characteristic, controlling for the NQS version assessed against (2012 vs 2018). The results indicated that: (1) private for-profit FDC schemes were more likely to have lower NQS ratings than not for profit schemes; (2) FDC schemes located in low-SES communities were more likely to have lower NQS ratings than their counterparts in high-SES communities; and (3) schemes located in metropolitan areas were more likely to have lower ratings than the schemes in regional or remote areas. Results indicated that MT, SES, CAR and MJ could explain up to 19.3%, 9.2%, 6.9% and 7.8% of the variation in FDC’s NQS ratings, respectively. These findings imply that policy attention should be paid to the variations and inequalities caused by the major systemic features. In addition, efforts should be made to further explore the urban-rural and poor-rich gaps to promote equality and equity in early childhood education and care.