Assessment and rating process

Information on the risk-based approach, assessment and rating, compliance and investigations and the National Quality Framework.

All relevant education and care services in NSW are regulated, assessed and rated under the same framework. This framework has been set up to ensure the health and safety of children in an education and care service, improve educational outcomes for these children while ensuring the regulatory approach by the department is not overly burdensome.

Assessment and rating visits

Since 2012 early childhood services have been subject to an assessment and rating process, which results in a service being given an overall quality rating, assessed against each of the National Quality Standards.

Assessment and rating influences and positively impacts developmental and educational outcomes for children. It is important the observations made during assessment and rating reflect typical, everyday practice at the service. Requests to postpone assessment and rating will be considered in exceptional circumstances in accordance with the Assessment and Rating Scheduling Policy.

Inactive assessment and rating periods to support services

To support services to plan for assessment and rating, the below dates are inactive periods where assessment and rating visits will not be conducted other than to services that predominately operate during these periods (e.g. vacation care). Other regulatory visits and requests may still occur including requests to submit quality improvement or self assessment documentation.

  • 18 December 2023 to 12 January 2024
  • 27 March 2024 to 3 April
  • 1 July 2024 to 12 July 2024
  • 16 December 2024 to 10 January 2025

National improvements to assessment and rating

There are 2 key improvements occurring nationally to make assessment and rating more effective. These are important to ensure assessment and rating provides families with confidence around the accuracy and currency of quality ratings.

From October 2023, the use of partial reassessments is increasing. This will continue to involve reassessment of 2 or 4 quality areas, instead of all 7. When notified of assessment and rating services are advised whether their assessment is a partial reassessment or a full assessment. Services can nominate 1 quality area in a partial reassessment.

In 2024, the reduction in notice period for assessment and rating visits to 5 business days will be gradually phased in. From mid-2024 all assessment and rating visits will have 5 business days' notice.

In January 2024, all services will receive an email providing access to the online Self-Assessment and Quality Improvement Planning Portal. The portal will be available for services to use at any time, not just before assessment and rating.

If you are interested in early access to the portal or would like more information, please contact

Risk-based approach

The department applies a risk-based approach to all regulatory processes.

As children are vulnerable members of the community, their rights and best interests are paramount. Our priority is to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of children attending education and care services in NSW.

The department uses evidence to inform our planning and decision-making. When assessing the level of risk, we look at:

  • General risk: including our understanding of particular groups (such as service types and entity types) within the early childhood education sector; and
  • Specific risk: including information we hold on individual applicants or services.

By targeting our resources using a risk-based approach, we:

  • decrease regulatory burden to the sector, and
  • ensure our actions and processes are proportionate to the risks posed to children.

The determination of the risk level of a situation or applicant impacts the way the department monitors and regulates.

National Quality Framework

Most NSW services are regulated under the National Quality Framework (NQF). The department collaborates with other state and territory jurisdictions and the national authority, the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA), to ensure a coherent approach to compliance under the National Law and Regulations across Australia

Information for family day care educators

We’ve updated our factsheet for family day care educators which explains the assessment and rating process including:

  • how you’ll be notified of an upcoming assessment and rating visit
  • how to prepare for a visit
  • what to expect during a visit
  • what to do if you have concerns during or after a visit.

Read the factsheet using the link below.

Assessment and rating factsheet for family day care educators


  • School operations

Business Unit:

  • Quality Assurance and Regulatory Services, Early Childhood
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