Compliance focus – educator to child ratios explained

Educator to child ratios must be maintained at all times a service is operating. Learn more about the minimum ratio and qualification requirements and new provisions commencing 1 July 2023.

Female educator sitting at a circular table smiling at five children also sitting at the table facing her with their backs to the camera. Female educator sitting at a circular table smiling at five children also sitting at the table facing her with their backs to the camera.
Image: Services can use ACECQA’s educator to child ratio calculator as a guide to determine the number of educators required to meet minimum ratios.

The National Quality Framework (NQF) sets out the minimum educator to child ratios and qualification requirements. To be counted in ratio, educators must be working directly with children and hold (or be working towards) an approved qualification.

The minimum number of educators required to educate and care for children at a centre-based service is to be calculated in accordance with the following ratios for children:

A graphic illustrating educator to child ratios in centre based services and family day care, details explained in tabled below A graphic illustrating educator to child ratios in centre based services and family day care, details explained in tabled below
Image: Minimum number of educators required to educate and care for children.

Centre-based services

Age Ratio
From birth to 24 months of age 1 educator to 4 children
Over 24 months and less than 36 months of age 1 educator to 5 children
Aged 36 months of age or over (not including children over preschool age) 1 educator to 10 children
Over preschool age 1 educator to 15 children

Family day care

Age Ratio
From birth to over preschool age 1 educator to 7 children

*Maximum of four children preschool age or under.

*Ratio includes educator’s own children younger than 13 if there is no other adult to care for them.

Ratios are calculated across the whole service, not by individual rooms. This provides some flexibility in the placement of educators across the service to ensure they are allocated based on the age and needs of the children in the service, which may change throughout the day. 

Centre-based services are required to keep a record of educators working directly with children, each time the service provides education and care.   

Importantly, when considering the placement of educators across multiple rooms, in addition to meeting the minimum ratio requirements across the service, there is a need to ensure supervision is adequate for each space.  

The Australian Children's Education & Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) has developed an educator to child ratio calculator to be used as a guide to assist services to determine the number of educators required to meet minimum ratios.  

Changing qualification requirements from 1 July 

Changes to the National Quality Framework (NQF) will come into effect from 1 July 2023, which will provide centre-based services with some flexibility in meeting qualification requirements, including: 

  • When Certificate III and Diploma trained educators are absent for a short period of time, they will be able to be replaced by an educator with a primary teaching qualification. 

  • Early childhood teachers can be replaced by an educator with a diploma or primary teaching qualification for short periods of leave. This is being extended to include following a resignation. 

From 1 July 2023, approved providers will be required to keep records of when educators are being replaced. Read ACECQA’s Short term relief of educators at centre-based services (PDF 678 KB) for more information. 

There is also a change for new family day care (FDC) educators, who will need to hold a Certificate III or higher qualification prior to commencing their role in an FDC service. Existing FDC educators will have until 1 July 2024 to complete an approved qualification. Further details are available in ACECQA’s Legislative requirements for family day care educators: From 1 July 2023 (PDF 1.09 MB) information sheet. 

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