Opening a new service
What you need to know about opening a new service.
What you need to know to open an education and care service in Australia.
I want to learn about:
- the legislation
- the National Quality Framework
- the types of education and care services
- applying to operate a service
- more resources
- upcoming changes to the Provider and Service Application process
- who to contact
For more information about your responsibilities as an approved provider, select the following link to access a series of eLearning modules about obligations under the National Law and Regulations.
Before opening a service you must understand what regulatory and funding requirements apply.
The Education and Care Services National Law and Regulations applies to most education and care service types in Australia.
You should be aware of:
- local government planning controls
- working with children or vulnerable person checks and child protection laws
- health department rules
- food safety requirements.
Understanding how these rules apply in your state or territory is important to planning a new business and working out the costs involved.
There are funding programs that subsidise child care fees for families using child care. StartingBlocks.gov.au is the national government one-stop-shop for families. Use our free government website to find and compare early childhood education and care services, view fees and quality ratings, and estimate out of pocket costs.
The National Quality Framework
The National Quality Framework is a national system which aims to raise quality and drive continuous improvement and consistency in children’s education and care services through:
- the National Law and National Regulations
- the National Quality Standard
- an assessment and quality rating process
- national approved learning frameworks
- a regulatory authority in each state and territory responsible for the approval, monitoring and quality assessment of services in their state or territory
- a national body – ACECQA, which assists governments to implement the NQF.
Types of education and care services
Most long day care, family day care and outside school hours care services are regulated under the NQF. The NQF also applies to preschools (or kindergartens), except in Western Australia and Tasmania.
If the service you are planning to operate is covered by the NQF, you will find information about applying for approval and regulatory requirements below.
Services that are not covered by the NQF may be regulated under local law. Information on seeking approval to operate one of these services is available on the website of your local regulatory authority.
Applying to operate a service
There are two types of approvals:
- Provider and service approval from your state or territory government (National Law). This approval deems you suitable to ensure the health, safety, wellbeing of children under the National Law. To be approved, you will need to demonstrate you understand your obligations under the National Law and Regulations.
- Provider and service approval from the Australian Government (Family Assistance Law). This approval deems you suitable to administer Child Care Subsidy (CCS) under the Family Assistance Law. If you are applying for CCS approval, you will also need to demonstrate you understand your obligations under the Family Assistance Law. Children's education and care providers must be approved under the National Law to be eligible to administer CCS.
State or territory government approval
Your state or territory regulatory authority will assess your application for National Law approval.
You will need to apply for:
- Provider approval - to become an approved provider. Provider approval is ongoing, recognised nationally and allows you to apply for service approval/s.
- Service approval - to operate an education and care service. Service approvals relate to the individual site/premises and the type of care provided e.g., centre-based (which includes long day care, kindergarten/preschool, and outside school hours care services) and family day care.
You can apply for provider and service approval online after registering an account on the NQA IT System (NQA ITS). Lodging notifications and applications through the NQA IT System offers reduced processing times.
Australian Government approval
The Australian Government will assess your application to administer CCS payments. This is known as CCS approval or Family Assistance Law approval.
Family Assistance Law sets out the rules you must follow if your service is approved for CCS. These obligations are outlined in the Child Care Provider Handbook.
Visit the Australian Government Department of Education for information on how to apply for approval under the Family Assistance Law to administer the CCS.
Regulatory authorities in each jurisdiction are responsible for assessing most applications and notifications. In most cases your regulatory authority is the first point of contact.
Visit the Australian Government Department of Education website for CCS information and resources.
The Child Care Provider Handbook is an operating guide for approved providers that offers practical information about the requirements and responsibilities of providers and services that are approved under the Family Assistance Law.
You may also find useful information about setting up and running a service from your local council and state or territory government agencies responsible for health and child protection.
For information and resources on business planning and the steps for setting up a new business, visit www.business.gov.au.
Upcoming changes to provider and service application processes
From July 2023:
- applications to administer the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) under the Family Assistance Law will be submitted through the NQA IT System
- combined applications for CCS and/or National Law approval may be submitted through the NQA IT System by prospective providers
- existing approved providers can also submit applications for a new service through the NQA IT System
- some applications will require a Provider Digital Access (PRODA) registration
- PRODA enables your identity to be verified quickly and securely and will reduce the need to submit identity documents with every application
- changes to the NQA IT System will streamline CCS and National Law application processes.
For information about these upcoming changes, watch this 2-minute video.
Who to contact
Find out what we do and how we can support you.
Contact your state or territory regulatory authority for inquiries related to provider and service approval applications under the National Law.
Family Assistance Law and CCS application inquiries:
1300 667 276