The NSW Department of Education is working to strengthen and grow the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector.

The importance of quality early childhood education and care

Quality ECEC experiences help give children the best start in life and learning. In NSW, 90% of services are meeting or exceeding the National Quality Standards.

Research shows that most of a child’s brain development occurs by the age of 5. Children learn millions of things about themselves and the world around them in the first few years of life. Discover more about brain development in young children.

The ECEC sector in NSW is responsible for providing approximately 500,000 children with quality learning experiences, helping to build crucial physical, social, emotional and cognitive skills before they start school.

The first 5 years of life have a big impact on a child’s long-term education, health and social outcomes. Discover trusted NSW Government and Australian Government services and resources for pregnancy through to age 5 on the Brighter Beginnings Parent and Carer Information Hub.

Delivering on commitments

The department aims to deliver quality outcomes for children, families and the ECEC workforce. We are working to give all families in NSW access to affordable, safe, inclusive and quality ECEC.

A valued, engaged and high performing workforce is critical to delivering great services to children and families. There are approximately 80,000 people employed in the sector, delivering a wide variety of education, care and support work. ECEC professionals use their expertise in child development and quality, play-based learning to make all the differences to the lives of children, families and communities.

Learn more about the workforce initiatives the department is rolling out to support ECEC professionals in NSW.

The department's role in ECEC in NSW

The department serves 4 main functions in NSW’s ECEC system as part of our commitment to providing safe, high quality ECEC for every child in NSW.

The NSW Regulatory Authority for Early Childhood Education and Care plays a vital role in keeping children safe. It is responsible for monitoring and enforcement of compliance with the National Law and Regulations, investigations and, quality assessment and rating for all ECEC providers and services in NSW.

The Regulatory Authority can also support families to investigate complaints where there are safety or quality concerns, and the service has been unable to support a resolution. If you are concerned about the health, safety or wellbeing of a child, you should contact the department as soon as possible on 1800 619 113 or via email and we will investigate the matter. You can call anonymously if you wish.

Read more about giving feedback or making a complaint.

The department provides funding for a range of service types to increase access and participation in ECEC. This includes Start Strong funding and fee relief for families.

Find out more about a range of grants and funded programs, including current opportunities for support.

The department currently operates 99 public preschools and 2 distance education services.

Public preschools aim to provide quality preschool services for the most disadvantaged children in the local community, that support universal access to high-quality early childhood education in the year prior to school.

You can read more information including how to enrol on our website.


  • Early childhood education

Business Unit:

  • Early Childhood Outcomes
  • NSW ECEC Regulatory Authority
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