Assessment and rating process

Information on the risk-based approach, assessment and rating process, 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.

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.

Assessment and rating process

In accordance with the risk-based approach, Assessment and Rating of early childhood services is completed by prioritising higher risk services. 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.

National improvements to assessment and rating

There are two 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.

In the second half of 2023, some services scheduled for assessment and rating will receive a partial reassessment. This will involve reassessment of 2 to 4 quality areas, instead of all 7. These services will receive a phone call and support from our Continuous Improvement Team.

We will work with these services to gain feedback and support them with this change.

In 2024, the reduction in notice period for assessment and rating visits to 5 business days will be gradually phased in. Prior to this, services will be provided with access to a new 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 being first to use the new portal or having a partial reassessment, please contact our assessment and rating team by emailing

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:

  • Early Childhood Outcomes
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